May 29, 2006

Thoughts on NOT being on expedition

It never fails, the expedition departs and I'm hurring around campus preparing this or responding to that or cleaning up the other thing. I hurry past a group of students or staff and they look at me shocked, "Aren't the sophomores already gone?" Of course, I respond, they are already gone, I just don't go on expedition any more. Surprised and a little disapointed they respond, "Well what do you do then?"

In reality - I don't do much, I don't sleep in the snow, or guide student's process or facilitate their uncomfortableness (which is really when learning happens). That's the magic our field staff create.

Likewise for each of our students there are parents, relatives, friends, older siblings who aren't on expedition. What do each of you do? Again, you aren't in the rain or staring at the compass willing it to grant insight, or shivering in a tent. Yet you've each had a part in making it possible for this remarkable group of young people to accomplish everything they did last week.

So what do we do? I guess I never really understood this in any of my previous work. I was blissfully ignorant of what I was really doing as I sent off young people on uncomfortable adventures. Then I became a father and my reality completely shifted.

At baccaluareate I was joking with someone that it was raining out and I wasn't worried. It's true that I worry and toss and turn and stress when I hear it raining outside and the expedition is out. When a parent calls with a concern - it makes total sense to me probably because I've already lost sleep over the same thing they're calling about.

So all the students who are back home from expedition, comfortable and no longer in the snow - well done! It's true I had a cell phone and an emergency action plan for one week of your life - but there are parents, grandparents, care givers, siblings and loved ones out there who are 'on expedition' with you every day. We're all really proud of what you did on expedition and what you do every day too.

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