Being Without Distractions
Ali, CS15, Atlanta, GA

Leaving for Exploration Week took a lot of planning, packing, and thinking. "Do I actually need 6 pairs of socks? How cold is it going to get?" But one of the biggest questions on my mind was, "how am I going to entertain myself?" We weren't allowed phones, the most we could take is a book and a journal. Eventually, I decided I wasn't going to bring anything, and the people around me were going to be enough. On the first day of camping, I regretted this choice greatly. Almost my whole group brought hammocks, and a book or journal. I just sat by the lake and watched the water ripple with the water striders. In those moments I realized that I didn't need any entertainment, because I was at complete peace in nature.

Every morning I woke up early to watch the sunrise and be present in nature. At the end of the week I was really glad I brought nothing, because I had such a good time with the trees. My personal goal for Exploration Week was to take the time and live in the moment. I didn't want to be distracted by a book or a journal, and instead take deep breaths and enjoy the time I had there. This personal goal relates to the first school learning goal: Appreciates and experiences the wonder of nature; values fundamental, life-long connections with nature; and expresses those connections in creative ways. I think that by living in the moment with my surroundings, I really connected with nature. Especially when I was watching the sunrise in silence. I was appreciating nature and taking in the breathtaking beauty of purples, blues and oranges being painted across the sky.

Another thing my group decided to do was go on a night paddle. It was a split second decision, and I am so glad we went. The stars were incredibly beautiful and plentiful. We all sat in silence looking up at the sky. I think we must have been out there for a solid hour because we floated all the way across the lake and then some. It was interesting that seven teenagers, who are supposed to have their heads in their phones, sat in silence, gazing at some stars. Around the end of the night paddle, our group leader, David shared some of his star expertise with us. He showed us Cassiopeia and Delphinus for example.

Exploration Week really deepened my understanding of LNT. The wilderness is a special place that must be protected. Thinking ahead to the future, I hope to continue connecting to nature by not bringing any entertainment. I think it was a great choice to put down the distractions and experience nature to its full potential.

- Ali, CS15, Atlanta, GA.

- Eagle Photo by: Logan, CS15, Sun Prairie, WI.