At the end of August, my class and I hiked seven miles into the middle of nowhere along the Rubicon trail. These seven essays are a collection of stories from those three days.
In hindsight, I probably should have expected something to happen that was less than ideal. On our first full day in The Great Wide Middle of Nowhere, something happened that made us all think differently about the experience. What no one knew going into Senior Survival was that a few of the sponsors had the idea to stage an accident to see how we would react. They told us we were going on another hike and had us all get our stuff ready. Once my small bag was packed with granola bars and my camel pack, I sat next to a few other girls to help them get their stuff together. We heard a small voice in the distance, but ignored it because we figured it was one of the guys doing something we'd never fully understand anyway (you know, per the usual). It wasn't until we heard a sponsor call out "did any of you hear that?" and start running towards a nearby rock that the majority of our class began rushing in behind her. I held back a little but was soon joining the hoards of people.
Before I continue, my thought process was as follows: "It has to be fake... everything seems so staged. But then why are all the sponsors running over? Wait, is that.... no, they're okay. But no, some sponsors are moving slower, why would they be simply meandering over if this was real?" It was then that I actually saw the "accident" and when I realized who it was, I instantly turned around to make sure the people behind me (who would have been affected by this horribly if it had been real) were okay. We were led closer to the group of people, and, seemingly out of nowhere, I lost it. Even though at this point I knew it was fake, it was extremely difficult to see one of the guys in my class staged to look as though he'd somehow been caught under a rock and had been seriously injured. I burst into tears, and although I tried to turn away, I was only turned back to watch as my class (who all knew by this point it was fake) try to treat him as though it was real.
If I had to pick one event in which our class was bonded more than the others, this would be it. When a small group of people in my class were able to lift him out and over to a clearing, we were all gathered into a circle to debrief what had happened. A few of us were still in a state of shock, me included. Our leader called attention to us, and pointed out that none of the sponsors had expected "such a genuine reaction." To this I would like to respond by saying neither was I. To be completely honest, while I knew before this that I cared about the people in my class, this event made me realize just how thankful I am for everyone.
This part of Senior Survival changed how I thought about the experience for a couple reasons. One, it made me realize how thankful I am for everyone I've met because my life would simply not be the same if none of them were there. Two, it made me think about how easily I could lose them. This is incredibly morbid, but unfortunately, as was pointed out during the debriefing, it's also realistic. For the rest of the weekend and even now, I've tried to make the most of every moment I have with these people. It doesn't have to be as tragic or morbid as an accident, because the simple fact of life is I'm not going to be around these people 90% of the time for forever. In eight months we're going to go our separate ways, and I know that in that amount of time I can either treat everyone horribly or I can be kind, supportive, and generous to them. We all have that choice, and we all have opportunity to be good to the people around us. Make the most of the time you have with the people you love. I promise you will never regret being kind.