I'm looking forward to improving my outdoor skills this weekend, taking a class that leads to becoming a Sierra Club Outings Leader. Part mountain survival, part Leave No Trace, part leadership, the class is set at a hostel out on the eastern edge of the Appalachian's central valley in Northern Virginia, at a spot where some of the lowest mountains of the Appalachian Range rise to lift the AT off the floor of the Shenandoah Valley.
|From the PATC to the Sierra Club - it's all about becoming a better leader|
The feeling? Awkward. I hadn't been in school long enough to make friends, so I just developed a crush on my patrol leader and did anything he asked me to do, with enthusiasm. I made it through. But I ended up with chaffing in very uncomfortable spots because I wasn't that great at managing personal hygiene in a simulated wilderness environment. We slept in wet tents down by the creek, at a clearing in the woods, with a field nearby for capture the flag, somewhere with no bathrooms, just a swell in the creek big enough for group bathing.
I had no idea over time it would prove to be one of the most significant of my personal experiences growing up in terms of providing a richness, texture and framework to my life that always brings me back to concepts I learned in scouting.
Hence, the blog Man of Merit where I am trying to go back and finish all the merit badges I'd not been able to complete when I was that confused transitioning teen; I'm working to fill in the gaps as I explore the art of living in the great outdoors. First the PATC Trail Patrol Training. Now this.
I feel like I finally get it. Now I'm ready to camp.