A Sense of Place
Clayton, CS16 Student (Shorewood, WI)

This year has involved a lot of new experiences for me. From leaving home for such an extended period of time, to the growth I've had in taking initiative in environmental stewardship, Conserve School has honed in my responsibilities I have to others and our common environment. Perhaps the most significant impact of living here is somewhat more subtle, yet something that drives my desire to act consciously. At the very heart of that realization lies the solo experience, shedding a new light on the need for stewardship.

It was the novelty of spending solo time in the Northwoods of Wisconsin that ultimately re-framed my sense of place. As someone who loves to be outside, it wasn't until relatively recently did I learn how a connection to somewhere plays into our need to protect it. The concept is simple in theory, but in the real world, fostering that connection to a place can have a million faces. Personally, being physically active dominates my interactions with the environment.

While absolutely bringing me closer to my surroundings, the most valuable experiences in my life have always revolved around what anyone would consider the more mundane. And in that, the power of the solo experience becomes clear. Through spending over 24 hours in a single area, some of the more intricate workings of this campus became familiar. The crisp air stepping from the tent to view the sunrise or the woven moss and lichen that characterize the forest's hummocks are two of many examples, all of which brought me to realize how I personally hold a stake in this place. Similarly, to develop a love for a place like solos allowed strikes a powerful chord in learning to be a steward. By increasing access for all to foster a love of natural places, the more strongly people feel to protect those places.

lichen photo

tree silouettePhotos contributed by Clayton