Adventure Trip. 11 days, 11 hours, 11 minutes. (I’m pretty sure that’s lucky!)
It’s on everyone’s mind. For months we’ve been planning and anticipating, and now it’s almost here. I don’t think any of us have really absorbed the fact that it’s happening. We’ve all been talking about it, pretty much since the second the retreat was over, but that doesn’t even begin to compare to the trip itself. There’s no way to describe what really happens on the Adventure Trip. Every year, we make new memories, new jokes, new friends. We face new challenges, and learn how to get past them, working together as a group, but we also learn how to do it on our own, overcoming our own personal conflicts and issues. The Adventure Trip is about endings and beginnings. The Grade 9s have almost completed their first year, and (by the end of the trip) are ready to step up and become leaders for the upcoming year. For the Grade 10s, this is the last big Talons experience, other than In Depth night, and it marks the end of our time in Talons. The trip gives us a chance to tie up loose ends, and prepare to leave. Whether you love camping, or have never slept in a tent before, it’s an amazing, unforgettable experience.
Each year, there are concerns about the trip. Grade 9s that are nervous about doing things they have never tried before, and aren’t sure if they should be in Talons, and Grade 10s that wonder whether or not they really still belong in Talons. Many of us have doubts, but none of us need to. We are all in Talons together. We all belong in Talons together. And as Talons, we will all go on the Adventure Trip and finish off an amazing year with an even more amazing, inspiring trip.
There is something about being away from home, forcing you out of your comfort zone, that brings you closer together with those around you. In the past two years of high school, I have been on five different school trips: three with Talons, and two with Band. With the Jazz Band last year, we went to an international festival in Idaho, and this year the Band went on a trip to Cuba. In Talons, I have been on two retreats, one as a Grade 9 and one as a Grade 10, and then my Grade 9 Adventure Trip. All of them have meant a few days away from school, family, and regular routine. I got to spend time all day, every day, with a group of students that had similar interests. And each time I came back home, I had gained something new. The experience of not having somewhere or someone to run to the minute I weren’t so comfortable pushed me to form new friendships and spend more time with others. As someone that isn’t super social, that was an amazing thing. And even when we got back, it may not have been quite the same “family” feel, but I still get hugs and hellos from people in the hallways that I spent a week with in Cuba, and I’m closer with some of the Talons students than I ever have been before.
Now, trying to imagine that multiplied a hundred times, doesn’t even begin to add up to what this year’s Adventure Trip is going to be. With more students than in the past, there will be more people to spend time with, more friends to help you out, and definitely more challenges and bumps along the way. This is Grade 10. There’s only two more months in the school year. And before the stress and craze of exams and last-minute assignments hits, we have one more trip, five days, to relish the time that we spend together in the Talons program.
Of course, with all of the excitement and anticipation, also comes a lot of work. On the trip itself, there will be plenty of work, mentally, physically, and emotionally. With 70 km of biking each day, cooking and cleaning responsibilities, tent set up and tear down, endless problems always in need of solutions, and a never ending fountain of blood, sweat and tears, the trip can be exhausting. Every morning we wake up at six am, and every night, we go to sleep around 11 pm (or at least we try, it probably won’t happen). Average six hours of biking, one or two hours of cooking, cleaning, and loading and unloading bikes and gear, plus leadership activities, temperature readings every night, and lots and lots of emotionally draining challenges, and you have a recipe for disaster. But it’s never a disaster, and I don’t think any of us would have it any other way. Because at the end of it all, you’ll feel more accomplished than you ever have before. There will be smiles and laughter and singing and hugs and the good kind of tears, and you’ll wish it wasn’t over. Then school starts again, and we have to go back to regular classes and routines, but everyone keeps giving each other these knowing looks because we all have these secrets and inside jokes from the trip. And it is quite possibly the most magical thing in the world.
I can’t wait for this year’s trip!