- Expedition: Apr 15-19, 2019
- Generation Green Southern Expedition 04/19
- Yosemite National Park: Hetch Hetchy
Students and their mentors from Generation Green Southern traveled all the way from LA to return to Yosemite for another WildLink expedition.
On Monday morning, students met their educators, Elizabeth and Nanci. The day consisted of packing backpacks, distributing gear, addressing hopes and fears, and getting to know one another. After doing all of the preparation necessary for the trip the next day, the students were able to relax for the evening and spend a little time thinking a bit more about the meaning of the word ‘wilderness’ in their evening program.
Tuesday began with a beautiful drive to the trailhead. Upon arrival, the group left their cars and continued on by foot towards the wilderness, where they would create a temporary home for the week. The six mile trek was challenging mentally, emotionally, and physically, but luckily the group fully supported each other, which allowed them to make it to camp before sunset. After cooking dinner and setting up camp, everyone enjoyed a well deserved sleep.
The next day was dedicated to stewardship and teambuilding. Ranger Dan helped the students remove campfire rings that did not follow regulations, and clean up others that were in good spots. After Dan left, the group participated in a teambuilding activity that strengthened dynamics of trust, support, and friendship in the students.
At the evening campfire, the group made s’mores and learned a lesson from their graham crackers that would inspire a night of authentic and vulnerable sharing. When a student chose not to take a broken graham cracker from the stack, a chaperone responded: just because it’s broken doesn’t mean that it has any less value. This quote became important for the group throughout the trip. Later, a student led a pre-bedtime meeting in which he recited a reading that struck a chord which the group. Shortly afterwards, the night filled with stories and tears that formed unbreakable bonds between everyone in the group. The conversation provided valuable insight to the students; they realized that everyone is facing comparable challenges, they are not alone, and that it is healing to share.
With a newfound strength from their previous nights campfire, the group completed the challenge hike with excitement and ease. They all felt accomplished to summit “Generation Green Mountain” and add their names to the summit registry along with many previous WildLink groups.
The last night was spent sleeping under the stars, with an early wake up and departure to follow. The group moved efficiently and made it to the trailhead earlier than expected. They were grateful for real bathrooms and a fresh change of clothes.
It was incredible to see how the students changed from the beginning to end of the trip. There was dirt on their face, but also a glowing wisdom. It was clear that they now know that the wilderness is a place for growth, they are capable of more than they previously thought, and they have a new community of love and support.