On March 10, 2011, eleven students and two staff members from Turning Winds Academic Institute set out on a seven day super trip to Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. For many of the students, this was their first experience out of the city submerged into pure nature. The adventure began with a jet boat ride to Granite Creek. From there the students strapped on their backpacks and began their journey.
Over the next seven days of this adventure, the students hiked a total of 26.6 miles. Their daily hiking average was 6 miles per day with the longest day totaling 11 miles. The students and staff camped each evening in individual tents, cooked their own meals, and learned how to start a fire. Students also learned how to hang their food to prevent it being eaten by animals.
For Elizabeth Bailey, Venturing Director at Turning Winds Academic Institute, one of the most incredible moments was watching the amazement in the student's faces when they experienced true nature for the first time in their lives. Several students commented that the first evening when they experienced a true starlit sky was unlike anything they had ever seen before. Josh, a Turning Winds Academic Institute student said, “My Hells Canyon experience was awesome!
It was great to be in the middle of nowhere. I loved listening and only hearing the sound of the wind in the grass and the soothing sound of the Snake River flowing downhill. I reflected on how I affect nature. I realize that I influence a lot more than I think I do. It was great to be outdoors for awhile.”
Often students are filled with anxiety and worry of the unknown, but their confidence in themselves grows throughout these backpacking trips. By the end of the experience, they are confident in what they can accomplish individually and as a team. Ian, another student at the institute said of his experience, “Hells Canyon was the most beautiful backpacking trip I’ve ever been on. I love the way being completely separated from civilization for a few days feels. It’s like nothing else. A combination of beauty and solitude together developed a completely unique feeling that I’ve never felt before.”
“RENEW their belief in their own potential”. An opportunity like this trip to Hells Canyon allows students to not only experience the great outdoors and develop a new appreciation for true nature, but it also presents an opportunity for them to discover and develop their own self-confidence; allowing students to realize for themselves the pure beauty of earth as well as uncover potential they did not know they had. Furthermore, it creates memories and life skills that the students will use the rest of their lives.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” ~Chinese Proverb