~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS6 student Sarah Santizo. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Sarah is from Wheaton, Illinois where she attends Wheaton North High School.~
At the beginning of the semester I set a goal to learn new activities that I’ve never had the opportunity to do and to acquire new outdoor skills and add them to the ones that I already have. After this amazing four month experience, I am able to say that I have achieved the goal I set out to accomplish.
I have had the opportunity to go downhill skiing several times as well as cross country ski. Before attending Conserve, the thought of sliding down an enormous hill standing on just two small slabs of plastic was not something that appealed to me. However, I took a chance and tried it and loved it! Snowshoeing is now another winter activity that I am able to cross of my list. Although this was not something that I particularly enjoyed, mostly due to the fact that I am not at all the most graceful person and that having two enormous extensions added to my feet caused me to trip nearly every five steps, I truly love that I was able to experience this.
Kayaking and camping are two warmer weather activities that I can say I have now done. Our solo trips began and ended almost three weeks ago now. I was exuberant as I walked out into the wild on my own. For nearly 30 hours, I had no human contact. I was left alone to search through my thoughts and explore the endless realm of beauty surrounding me. Being alone is something that I have never had trouble with. I can spend hours at a time sitting alone anywhere and completely entertain myself with just my thoughts to keep me company. Growing up in a family of six, you would think this the opposite. At home, there is rarely a time when I am alone. People constantly entering and exiting the house, the phone ringing, cell phones buzzing, someone running around the house screaming if anyone has seen their left shoe, the angry shouts of people fighting over the last of the home-made cookies, are just examples of the constant commotion of the Santizo household. Being constantly around my family has allowed me to thoroughly enjoy the bits of time I get to spend on my own and here at Conserve, although still often surrounded by people, I was able to find solace in the woods and deepen my connection with nature. Our solo trips were an experience that I will never forget and that I hope to do more of. Swinging in my hammock, watching as the clouds bobbed their way across the sky, or listening to the gentle lull of the rain as I laid in my tent to keep dry was more than amazing. And it allowed me to re-connect with not only nature, but myself as well.
After these past four months, after learning all these new skills and reaching my goal, I learned more about myself than I thought possible; about my independent nature and about my core values. I learned that it takes me a while to be able to trust a person. And I learned that this is not a bad thing. Being an independent person, I typically attempt to do things on my own, without help. I both value this characteristic and despise it. I love my desire to do things on my own for my own personal growth and achievement. I love the fact that I know that I am capable and strong enough to do things without having to rely on someone else. However, sometimes I have a difficult time realizing that not everything can be done on my own, and that sometimes, it’s okay to ask for help. That sometimes, it’s better to ask for help. Being at Conserve has shown me this. I have been able to count on all my amazing friends here when I need the support. When I knew I couldn’t do something, they have been there ready to help in any way they could. And I hope, more than anything, that I have shown them the same thing.
I have grown a lot in my time being here as well. I am physically, emotionally, and mentally stronger than I was in the beginning of February. And I will continue to grow. The friendships I have made here are going to be long-lasting and I look forward to being able to keep in touch with everyone. Back home, I want to keep experiencing new things. I do not want to settle for the everyday, boring status quo. I want to show my friends what I’ve learned and learn new things with them. And along the way, I want to make mistakes. Isn’t that what life is all about? You live and you learn. You try and you fail. But you get back up and try again. Sometimes, you don’t have to fix everything, but let life continue and eventually, the pieces will fit back together the way they’re supposed to be. I hope to be able to achieve in making mistakes. And I hope to be able to have the courage to keep going after I fail and after decisions are made. To me, the mistakes along the way are better than the victory ahead. What is the point in victory if nothing is learned from it? If you can’t move forward, stronger than before and with the will to change the wrongs and strengthen the rights? So, I want to make mistakes and I want to learn from them and not make them again. That alone is what I want to accomplish as I continue my way through life and especially these next few years, which will ultimately influence the course of the rest of my life.
As I move forward and leave Conserve as a beautiful memory, I want to continue to stand up for the environmental issues I believe in. I want to spread environmental stewardship to my sending school. Not much is done back home for the environment, though mostly because there isn’t much nature to protect anymore. More trees are being cut down to build big, unnecessarily big, houses. I want to be able to show my high school, the students my own age, what they can do to help. I want to show them that small steps lead to larger ones until eventually, you’re gliding through the air. By spreading word, and raising awareness, I hope to take environmental action.
I know that I will continue hiking and camping with my friends from Conserve and my friends back home. I love being outside and hope to spread those emotions to my friends that did not have the same opportunity that I did. I will also continue to ski, whether it is downhill or cross country, or both I really don’t mind. I will continue to use the outdoors as my playground and spend as much time as I can participating in activities that will allow me to see the natural beauty of the area.
Conserve has been the start of a life-long journey of passion, adventure, and courage. I will miss everything about the campus, however new adventures will come along and further my love for the environment. It is not the end of an experience, but the start of a series of them and I look forward to each and every one of them and to the places that they will lead me.
Thank you for this amazing opportunity! 🙂
~Sarah Santizo, Conserve School Semester 6
More photos from Ryan’s semester at Conserve School.
Visit the Conserve School website to learn more about this unique semester school in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.