Monday, November 07, 2011

Challenge 6: Hiking

I have challenged my students to write a college application essay of at least 300 words every day for 30 days, working off a long list of essay topics. Below is one of my attempts. (Note from the future: Out of about 50 students, 22 actually completed it. I tried but gave up after 18 days.)

#117: Hiking to Understanding

Team sports in the park, cycling along Lake Michigan, weekend white-water rafting trips in Wisconsin: I've always been an outdoorsy person. So when the opportunity arose to go on a week-long trek into the Himalayan range with a group of tenth graders, I signed up. It led to some major understandings:
  • What's the secret? Drink lots of water. On the first day, I didn't listen to our guide, and this resulted in fatigue and sore muscles. The next day, I drank at least five liters and felt fine.
  • Mountain stream water is cool, refreshing, and completely tasteless, unlike whatever that is that comes out of the faucet back home.
  • If the school offers a trek called "the sprained ankle hike," it will involve 10 km of walking over rocky terrain and an elevation increase of at least 1,500 feet per day.
  • Students who sign up for the "sprained ankle hike" will complain about walking. At least one will sprain her ankle.
  • It gets cold quickly after sunset. Your wool hat will help, but not you; usually, it'll warm up a student who lost his hat.
  • Do not let anyone tie a shoe while wearing a pack. It's funny watching someone stumble backwards while trying to get up. It's less funny when that person gets hurt and then you have to carry the pack.
  • Walking sticks help. Well, at least they make you look cool.
  • Tenth graders think the word "stick" is hilarious.
  • It's impossible to teach teenagers to bury their toilet paper. Some prefer to throw it into the trees.
  • It's tough to help others when you're so out of shape that you can't breathe.
  • Camping in a field covered in cow dung makes you feel dirty.
  • Sleeping on the cold, hard ground is possible if you're tired enough; ever being comfortable is impossible.
  • No shower for a week, or jump in the freezing mountain river? Sometimes, a choice is not really a choice.
  • Crawl out of the semi-warm sleeping bag in the middle of the night, or try to hold the bathroom break until the morning? Treks seem to be full of lose-lose choices.
  • I guess I don't really need a beer after a long, hard day. But there's a huge difference between need and want.
  • Ultimately, wants are more important than needs.
  • I don't need to ever go on a trek again. I don't think I want to, either.
  • I love nature, but I guess I prefer the city.

No comments: