Julian Clark

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    This past 2010 summer break I was given the opportunity by Big City Mountaineers to embark on a six-day backpacking trip in the infamous Sierra Nevada Mountains. BCM’s goal is to take a group of kids from big cities and test their mental, physical and emotional toughness in the wilderness, and to teach them a few things as well. My BCM trip did just that. I was selected to attend and represent the East Oakland Youth Development Center boys trip.

    Before I actually went on the trip, I made sure I got an idea of what it was about from friends and peers who went previous years. They all told me the same thing: “You’re going to hate it while you’re there, but, when it’s over, you’ll really appreciate all you went through.” I was shocked that they said I would appreciate it because the idea of carrying a backpack half my size through the woods all day for six days is not exactly my dream trip. Nevertheless, when Ms. Regina told me she wanted me to go on the trip, excitement was the last emotion I felt. I was scared and wondering what I would be getting myself into.

    When I found out who the other teens were that would be going I felt a little better. Brent, also known as my brother/twin/goofball, and are almost always together and knowing he would be there with me in the woods made me feel more comfortable about the situation. Louis is the hilariously loud mentor who can turn any dull moment into one full of light. Isaiah, also known as “the next big rapper”, is such a positive person who sees the glass half full while others may see it as half empty. Then there’s Chris, also known as “Mr. Team Spirit”, who has been leading youth for years and was able to inspire us to push harder. All of theses personalities put together can either be a disaster, or a great thing. Fortunately for this particular trip, it was an excellent thing. Isaiah and Louis were like older brothers to Brent, Chris and I considering they are one to two years older than us, and had a bit more life experience than us. Their “shotblocking” also pushed every single one of us to really push it for a short amount of time. Also, we all sort of had this second-nature competition between us, which compelled me to make sure I pushed myself so that I could keep up with the big boys. In the beginning, I did have my doubts on just how effectively we could work together and survive in the woods, but after a few days in the trip, all doubts faded away.

    The group leaders for this trip could not of been any better; Chance (Fireman Sam), Dane (Mr. Anteater), Andrew (The Wise Man), Rico (Mr. Gassy), and Chris (Mr. Athletic) were all grade A mentors. Chance gave great advice on what to do when you see this and how to start/put out a fire. He also gave us a lesson on bobcat poop. Dane made us all laugh with his Dane Cook-like personality and interesting diet. Andrew gave us great tips on how to read maps and tell the time with no technology. Rico’s humor and connection to all of us teens helped us get through the trip with ease. Chris’s openness really surprised me and inspired me, and the others, to stop hiding my feelings and to be open. Also his athleticism made things more interesting in the sports we played. All together these leaders made the trip a fun, yet educational and inspirational outing.

    Even though I was kind of skeptical about going on the BCM trip at first, because of the hardships I knew I would endure, it was one of the most beneficial trips for me. It taught me a lot about being open and trusting my peers, and it taught me how to make it in the wilderness. It may not seem like it at first, but the trip that Big City Mountaineers has organized is the most positive, inspirational and beneficial trip I have ever been on. Thank you to Ms. Regina and the Big City Mountaineer staff.

    Julian Clark
    9/9/10

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