Posted by: csdailyblog | November 30, 2012

Canoeing in Sylvania

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS5 student Kate Carpenter. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Kate is from Tomah, Wisconsin where she attends Tomah High School.~

Exploration Week Group

Exploration Week Group

Conserve School Learning Goal: Appreciates and experiences the wonder of nature; values fundamental, life-long connections with nature; and expresses those connections in creative ways.

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

Exploration week. So many memories pop into my mind when I see or hear these two words. Most prominently, canoeing and camping for a WHOLE week in the Sylvania Wilderness, of course! However, there are so many more memories that made exploration week the amazing experience that it was: sleeping in a tent, canoeing every day, portaging heavy packs and canoes, skipping rocks on the shoreline, sand flopping (lying on the beach when the sun escaped the clouds), eating gorp, chub, and all of the other trail food, hanging bear bags, sitting around the campfire, drying our clothes, going on hikes and nature walks, swimming in the lake, battling through rain, hail, sleet, high winds, and thunderstorms, seeing wildlife such as loons, ducks, pine martins, and owls, going a week without showering, using a pit toilet in the middle of the night, watching the steam rise off of the water at night, experiencing nature completely disconnected from the outside world, and bonding with my group members, Maia, Jessie, Alex, Ian, Nate, Andy, Dexter, and the grad fellows, Bill and Jaime. Team Trail Spice for life!

In the woods, we return to reason and faith.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sylvania Sunset

Sylvania Sunset

The quote above shares a very special place in my heart. I truly believe that a person returns back to their foundations of reason and faith when they are in the woods, or any other kind of nature for that matter. Being completely disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the outside world allows a person to share an experience like none other. Because of our day to day lives, we often forget to take time for the outdoors/nature. We are often found tangled in numerous activities. However, nature is an essential part of who we are. We are connected to the natural world in every way, just like the trees, insects, fish, birds, mammals, etc. When we spend time outdoors, we return to the basis of who we are, or we “come down to earth.” We find ourselves realizing and appreciating nature and life itself more than ever before. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but nature teaches us more than we will ever know. Exposure to the beauty and elements of the natural world acts as a guide back to who we are, what we believe in, and how we view the world. What better way to cleanse the soul than in the woods?

Spending a week camping and canoeing in the Sylvania Wilderness helped me return to my foundations of reason and faith. With internet, television, my cell phone, and other types of media, I am easily distracted from what nature has to offer. On exploration week, I could enjoy nature in its entirety without any interruption from civilization. It was an amazing experience, and I always look forward to oppurtunities of going into remote areas. Sometimes I feel as though I look at nature, but I don’t really see it. This past week definitely gave me a much needed eye opener into the depths of nature. I am now proud to say that I have developed a newfound love of nature that I have never had before. I think a part of that is connected with my first experience of canoeing and camping for a week, but it has impacted who I am. I see the world differently now. All of them good, of course!

Lastly, to the quote stated at the top of this entry: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” This quote could not be said any better, but I now view it differently after typing this entry. I believe that exploring involves learning about yourself and connecting that with the landscape. Yes, one learns tons of things from exploring the woods, but the journey is what counts at the end of the day. Connection to the world we live in is of utmost importance. No matter how much time you spend in nature, you always learn more each time you enter; you grow in every aspect. Always take time for nature, always.

~Kate Carpenter, Conserve School Semester 5


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