Magnus and his tripmates resting in their tent after a day of exploring the North Maine Woods.
The last Chewonki Wilderness Trip I went on was two years before this year when I went on my semester school wilderness trip. My previous trip was a five week white-water kayaking adventure in the summer. In comparison, the two wilderness trips were wildly different. The first obvious difference would be the weather. Although the rivers in Maine can be very cold during the summer, they are nothing compared to the negative twenty degree weather during the winter. On my summer trip I stayed in a three person tent and on the winter trip I stayed in a five person tent with a stove in it. The stove was used at night to keep the tent warm. Despite the obvious exterior differences between the two trips, I would say that both trips offered similar experiences and a new outlook on life. When you set off on a Chewonki Wilderness Trip there is a lot of planning to do. While your trip leaders will take care of most of the extraneous details, you yourself have to help pack and load the gear. It is a great feeling to look at all of the food and gear sprawled out on the floor and then watch as your group later drags it on sleds behind them. To pack so concisely gives the feeling that your experience on trips doesn’t depend on what you bring physically but what you bring mentally. Of course coming unprepared to your trip can lead to dire consequences. I mean to say that in my experience, it is more about what you want to get out of the experience rather than what you brought to it.
In past wilderness trips, I have been clouded with homesickness. While it is great that the wilderness trip exposed my weakness of homesickness to me so that I could work on it, it also detracted from my experience. All I could think about was going home. While on a trip, it is important to constantly tell yourself that you may never have this experience again and even if it is hard, you must push yourself because that is when you find out the most about yourself. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if it wasn’t for wilderness trips. Trips like these have the potential to expose things about yourself that you would have never known, albeit there are some who know themselves very well. Even though the trip for semester students is four days, there is a strong possibility that it will test you and you will feel very accomplished on the bus ride home.
In addition the internal growth that wilderness trips expunge, there is a parallel growth from the community as a whole. I came back to campus excited to recount stories with friends knowing that I had new ones to tell them with. As a student body, we were suddenly all on the same page. We all ate the same disgusting bean spread, we all experienced the incredible power that skiis and snowshoes have to suck the energy out of you, and we all learned something new. Personally, it felt great to hear all of the interesting stories and facts that my peers had experienced on their trip. If I were to go on another wilderness trip, I would want there to be much smaller groups. I believe that getting to survive with three other people creates a much more intimate relationship than surviving with seven. Also, coming back to campus after creating such strong bonds with only a few people would definitely bring us together more. I have noticed that I enjoy talking to other people about there experiences rather than explaining mine to others. By having smaller groups, it would lead to many more interesting experiences and a higher net amount of relationships in place at Chewonki. For me, there were good and bad times on trip, but overall I feel like I have changed and that we now have a stronger community.
-Magnus Peterson Horner, Lower Merion High School, PA