As I reflect on the nine incredible and unique retreats we hosted this winter at Arctic Hive, I've decided that a group’s last day here feels exactly like the last day of summer camp.
My dad always told me when I first boarded the bus to camp at age 6, I was crying because I was scared, and didn’t want to leave home. A week later when the bus returned, I was crying again because I wanted to go back to camp!
That bittersweet feeling of completion was confusing — and heart breaking — and exciting, all at once. On that last day, I looked forward to seeing my family and friends and to share all the new skills I’d learned.
But on the flip-side, I was leaving Utopia.
(Below: Students enjoying the Yoga Hive during this spring's SHEWild Yoga Teacher Training)
I was leaving a group of friends who’d temporarily become my family. Our tight-knit group had felt so seen and heard. We’d bonded over a deep love of the outdoors and through an adventure in the backcountry. Of course, we all swore we’d keep in touch by writing letters, but neither handwritten letters nor modern-day texting/emailing can bring back the feeling.
Truthfully, nothing brings back the feeling of a profound shared experience.
So, this begs the question: If we’re destined to not re-create (or even fully remember) that magical Utopia, then how do we know the experience was worth it?
The answer became clear once I started facilitating those journeys. I saw it in the eyes of my campers as they finished their first backpacking trip. I see it in the confident smiles of the women who complete yoga teacher training. I see it in the glow surrounding anyone leaving a retreat here at Arctic Hive.
(Below: Part of the 11-member crew from Rove Co. that enjoyed three blissful days of XC skiing and snow science education in the Brooks Range!)
The experience is worth it because we are changed.
Nature is defined by change — if you look outside, change is all there is. But as humans, we possess a unique ability to unconsciously stay the same. We get stuck in a rut of our life like a hamster stuck on its wheel.
Then one day, for whatever soul-stirring reason, we wake up and decide to hop on our own metaphorical bus to summer camp. As we stare out the window of the bus and wipe away our tears, we acknowledge the fear in our belly and we muster all the courage we have for the task ahead.
The change that occurs on a journey of shared experience and self-discovery is profound because we’re aware that it’s happening. We’ve consciously signed ourselves up for an experience outside our comfort zone. Assuming we’re open to learning and growing, our minds take what we learn and apply that wisdom to other parts of our life.
In other words, learning through adventure helps us grow.
(Below: Guests snowshoe hiking during REWild this March)
Although we may never feel the exact feeling of Utopia after we leave it, we know it was worth it because our mindset has changed. And here’s the magical part: the world around us changes simply because the lens we’re viewing it through has changed.
Eventually, our world “at home”(regardless of the daily struggles) starts to feel more and more like a personalized, sustainable version of Utopia. If you change your mind, you change your life.
To me, that’s not only worth it… it’s priceless.
Sending you lots of love and adventure, wherever you are! 💕
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