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    Found in the Woods

    “Silence is golden, but only when it’s in moderation. If people are not careful, they will become prisoners of that silence, and as a result they will be lost.”

    By: Josh Stricker

    Lost but now I’m found – that part of Amazing Grace is the best way to describe how I felt at the end of Senior Survival. The experience of Senior Survival can be summarized in three words: emotional, connected, and experience.

    The emotions behind Senior Survival are many and varying just as the people who think and feel them. Senior Survival was an emotional time for me – the initiatives made me more emotional than any other time in my life.

    For instance, the first initiative was designed to cause dissension within a group – and for the members of my Group B, it did just that. However, it also induced emotion. I’ll be honest; I was frustrated with our group because everyone knew the solution to the initiative’s puzzle, but some deliberately took the wrong path. And this was just the first initiative.

    Initiative two showed me what terror was as it dealt with my terrible fear of heights, and initiative three taught me that when passion and desire burn brightly, even torrential downpour is unable to douse it. Finally, the most emotional experience of all: initiative four. Many emotions ran high that day, and it didn’t affect me any less than anyone else in that group. We had finally developed trust for each other, and a feeling of mutual friendship echoed through the forest as we made our way to what Mr. Thorman had waiting as the fourth intiative. Arriving at the initiative, I was overcome with emotion during a briefing Mr. Thorman and Mr. Graves were giving us, and I began to write down thoughts about who and what I was. When my turn for the challenge rolled around, I decided to give a speech to my classmates, shaking from both fear and anticipation because I was stepping out of my comfort zone, one of the hardest things for me to do, and I completed the challenge. Overcoming the challenge of initiative four will always be remembered as the day I finally was recognized, acknowledged and known.

    The second word I use to describe Senior Survival is connected. When I say connected, I mean we grew closer. At the start of the trip, I was a stranger in a sea of even stranger strangers, but after I left, I felt like I had found a place among those strangers. Now those strangers – my classmates – aren’t strange strangers, but strange friends. When I say strange, I mean we act downright peculiar and odd; we’re strange, but we’re still friends, and even friends are strange.

    To be a friend, they say one has to be a friend. Well, that’s fine and all, but prior to the trip, I wasn’t the friendliest guy in the world. I honestly couldn’t have cared less if these people were going to be eaten by a bear or something crazy like that – I know, I have a strange imagination. But after initiative four, and, well, after that whole trip, I feel like I wouldn’t let anything hurt my friends. I trust them, and as far as I know, they trust me. So if you feel like you don’t want to get closer to your class and want to go on Senior Survival, then I’m afraid that it’s just not possible.

    The final word I use to describe Senior Survival is experience. Nature, spiritual, fun, boring, slow, fast, passionate, lax, wet, uncomfortable, friendly and emotional are all adjectives I use to describe my experience on Senior Survival. Whether it was learning about wild edibles with Uncle Chuck, scrounging for natural materials with “Dangerous” Doug, or working as a class for the initiatives with Mr. Thorman, my experience at Senior Survival is something I won’t forget any time soon. The real kicker for me, however, was the drastic change I experienced during those five to six days we were there. For the first time since seventh grade year, I opened up about who I really am and admitted to a dark prison of silence I had placed myself in and I pleaded to my group for their help to break me free of my chains. I never had been so emotional before, and it felt satisfying. So, yeah, I guess you could say that my experience at Senior Survival “leveled” me up – it made me feel stronger and changed me.

    I sincerely recommend that underclassmen go to Senior Survival when the time rolls around. I guarantee, underclassmen, that there will be no other time through your senior year that will be more emotional and connecting than Senior Survival, and the experience that you’ll have is priceless. Oh, and as a final note: never, EVER drink any kind of tea that has something in it which comes from a tree. You will regret it, I assure you.

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