More Than Just a College Experience
White water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, ropes course, camping, winter survival, First aid training and more: sounds fun right? That’s what I though as I filled out the application for Explore. WI was stoked a few weeks later when I got accepted, but I had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. I kind of wanted a normal college experience, but I realized as soon as I got my packing list that explore would be anything but normal. Let me explain, any normal college kid when moving out would pack up their favorite clothes, bedding, and a few accessories, I-pod, laptop, TV, micro-wave etc., the essentials right? Not in explore, my packing list for clothes alone sent me on a few hundred dollar shopping spree, and don’t even get me started on gear. I didn’t even know what half the stuff we needed was. Eventually I got everything I needed, packed up and headed off to Three Hills, Alberta where I found the smallest college I have ever seen filled with some of the coolest people I have ever met.
The first two weeks were fine consisting of mostly classes and homework. It’s when we moved down to Plains, Montana that explore really started. Remember the necessities of a normal college kid? Well in explore they look something like this. Your wallet becomes a knife, your cell phone is now a whistle; that handy GPS in your car is now a map and compass, and your car is your boots. Everything you need to survive for the next ten days is shoved into a backpack and loaded on your back. Your nice comfortable bed is now the flattest spot you can find to hang your house which, by the way is a tarp, and all the comforts of our easy lives are long left forgotten at the trail head. I knew the program was going to be hard, but I had no idea how much it was going to challenge me mentally. Most fall activities were fine; it was the bitter string of winter camping that got me. When the cold creeps in and chills your every bone as you try and cook dinner in the middle of a blizzard for the rest of your team, just try and have a good attitude.
But to try and explain to you everything that I have learned about God and come to appreciate about life would be impossible. I can only tell you that as I sit up against a tree watching the sun rise over snow covered mountains, and sparkle like diamonds on the calm Clarke Fork River after having spent the night alone, I couldn’t be happier I didn’t have a normal college experience.
By Megan Ely
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