The Woods Project has me hooked, plain and simple. What a unique perspective I was able to have as a first time leader and volunteer. It’s hard to describe in short what took place in the woods, but there is something about the mountains that creates an opportunity for self-reflection. You know each person, student or volunteer, experienced their own journey out there, and having seen the results, this opportunity almost seems vital for anyone.
There is a personal awareness and development that took place during this time and I am so impressed that these kids stepped out of their comfort zone all because an opportunity like this presented itself in school. The expectations for this trip seemed physical at first, with rock climbing, backpacking, and hiking, and in no way did the students know what kind of personal depth they were getting in to, but, away from the city, and away from their family, they embraced it. Each student had the opportunity to recognize strengths and weaknesses in themselves and each other. Challenges were made, accepted, and conquered, and in the end, no one gave up, ever. Patience, leadership, critical thinking, social awareness and physical abilities were all put to the test over and over.
By the end of the second week, as a leader, we didn’t have to wonder if this trip served a purpose to the students, or hope they got something out of it, we knew. We knew because they told us how important this trip was to them, how it changed them, how it opened their eyes to possibilities of who they could be or should be, and that is enough to volunteer year after year.