Rainy Day Leadership- Brewer Castle

Alzar School | 19.03.14

There are many stresses to deal with when leading a group of 13 teenagers and 5 adults through a rainforest on a muddy trail in the rain on a backpacking trip. The pace is slow, no one is particularly excited, and everyone around you is soaking wet and bitter about their damp possessions as a result of the never ending rain (and some mistakes in megamid set up). On a day like this, when the wakeup time is 6:00 AM, you have a 3 and a half hour walk ahead of you, and all you’ve eaten that day is a small bowl of unseasoned oatmeal, moral is unsurprisingly low. You find yourself asking questions like, “How much farther away could this place possibly be?”, “Why did the trail just disappear for the fourth consecutive time?”, or “Who on earth could possibly find this activity enjoyable and why?”.¬† These are all very hard things to deal with as a leader. But the challenge was welcome to me and Alec.

So when standing in front of a group of messy, unshowered teenagers and trying to explain to them why it is important to walk fast so we can get to camp on time and unpack, We did our best to stay positive. There wasnt a whole lot of knowledge about where the camp was, how much longer we’d be on the trail, and how easy the trail would be, so positivity was really just confidence that we would get there at some point, and Alec and I had that. So that is how we managed to keep the group going; simply encouraging the group to keep moving forward, and doing so ourselves. We are both strong hikers, and for that reason we were able to focus hard on what decisions needed to be made and how to keep the group in good shape. But leading a group that size can be stressful, and there was a lot of awareness and risk management required to make the right decisions. Fortunately, we didnt encounter many problems along the way, and in about three hours we had managed our way to La Junta in Cocham√≥.

While leading, I had to take the time to view things differently in order to keep myself positive. I learned a lot about how changing your outlook on a situation can help greatly. When I was walking through the woods, I wasn’t so concerned with my wet clothes or my heavy backpacks. I was more focused on getting everyone where we needed to go. When you don’t think about the negatives, after a while they just disappear. I could hear some of my classmates who weren’t so happy with their situation, and I was able to help them be more positive as well. I enjoyed our trip to la Junta that morning. despite the rain, it was a good experience.

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