I went on the 10th grade backpacking trip. We travelled to Harriman State park by train. Once we got there we started hiking around noon. The first day was pretty hard with a lot of steep hills. It was also a pretty far distance. We arrived at our hiking shelter around 5 pm. The next day we hiked to a lake and then to our next hiking shelter. It was a very leisurely hike and extremely pretty. We had lunch by the lake and a meeting for worship (which was one of the highlights of my trip). However, once we got to the hiking shelter, it was already occupied. We knew it was going to rain that night and so as a group we had to make difficult decisions about where everyone was going to sleep (more to come on that later). The next day we woke up early in order to hike out and catch the 9:15 train. We were able to catch the early train, which everyone was very happy about. We then returned to Friends and unpacked.
I really enjoyed the trip. I felt I learned a lot. I came into the trip expecting to have a terrible time. However, I ended up really liking all the kids on the trip and interacting with them a lot. However, since I was taking the role of a leader and this was their time to bond as a 10th grade ExEd group, I tried not to force myself into conversations too much.
One thing that I did not think about when thinking about my leadership style is what do you do when somebody in the group has to do something that nobody wants to do. I tried to help out by carrying a lot of group gear and cleaning up a lot. However, my true test came the night we did not have a hiking shelter to sleep in. Deanna and Jack presented us with 3 options: hike all the way back to the previous hiking shelter, have a short hike to a large rock outcropping where we could be somewhat sheltered, stay where we were and divide the two tents and the tarp that we had among everyone. The group chose the last option. This option meant that Deanna and Jack would have to sleep outside, the three boys would get a tent, four of the girls would get a tent, and two of the girls would get a tent. This also meant that it looked like one more person would have to sleep outside. I felt that it was my job as a leader to do this. Ultimately, there was room for me under the tarp. However, even though I avoided sleeping outside in the rain, Jack and Deanna did not. I learned that being a leader (to me) means putting yourself in uncomfortable positions when unexpected issues arise. This is something I definitely want to add to my leadership statement.
In my leadership statement I included that I wanted to play a lot of games. We did not play any of the games that I was prepared to play. However, Jack and Deanna had given me movie quotes, and the second night at dinner I made up a guessing game with the movie quotes. I was really happy that everyone got involved. I then also suggested we play a game where someone throws out a word and you think of a song lyric that has that word. Everyone seemed to be having fun and this was a moment where I was proud of my leadership skills.
When looking at my leadership document now I am proud of how I acted. However my first statement was “do not judge”. I definitely judged the people on my trip before I went on it. Luckily I was wrong and they were amazing. This showed me that “do not judge” is an important part of my educational philosophy and I should try and enact it better when I am in group settings. Since I had never been backpacking before, this allowed me not to be controlling or bossy because I did not know anything about our trip. However, I know that this is something I have to avoid when I go on a trip in which I am already adept at the skills needed for the trip.