Better late than never! That is how I describe the day I finally registered for The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School. Occasionally, I think about choices I might have made differently had I graduated from this life-changing program decades earlier, but I heed the advice of Galway Kinnell in his poem, Wait: “Distrust everything if you have to./But trust the hours. Haven’t they/ carried you everywhere, up to now?” In fact, I entered The Immersion program at just the right time – at a point in my life when I was ready to receive the teachings.
My relationship with the school dates back to 2010 summer camps. That first summer camp season led to many more, including my son’s year of Friday Community School when he was in 6th grade and woefully underwhelmed by his new middle school. Friday’s on the land each week filled him with a joy fierce enough to protect him through the remaining school year. It was life-saving for him, and something I wanted for myself – so I enrolled in The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School.
Thanks to The Immersion, I practice the following awareness mantra: “Just because I didn’t know about something until now, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there all along.” That could refer to a barred owl on a limb just above me, a cougar stalking at the edge of a pond, a teenager subtly and desperately calling out for attention, or a harmful pattern of “whiteness” someone asks me to let go of. I learned how to practice awareness during my time at The Immersion. I’m imperfect in this practice, but it continues to nudge me toward curiosity and humility.
After I graduated The Immersion in 2018, I continued with the Youth Nature Instructor Training program, became an active member of the Equity Council, and volunteered for summer and school year programs. This year I’ve joined the Adult Nature Instructor Training program in support of the 2020-21 Immersion students.
What is it about this program and this community that continues to pull me in? Awareness and Camouflage.
Daily life in Seattle finds me in many different circles: on the Board of a local outdoor preschool; active as a philanthropist; in parent associations at my kids’ schools; on the Equity Committees of three different organizations; committed to anti-racism work through self-reflection, white caucus groups and mixed-race communities of practice and action. Most importantly, I am a mother of three emerging adults who are best served when I notice, listen, and protect them for (not from) life’s challenges.
Before The Immersion, I thought camouflage was clothing painted in splotches of green, brown and tan and similarly colored make-up caked on my face. After The Immersion, I consider myself in full camo when I’m in a black dress and a string of pearls. My Immersion mentors taught me that when I blend in with baseline – nestled in a clump of sword fern beneath a Western Red Cedar, sitting unobtrusively by a fire within a circle of teens, or by using my salad fork at a fancy-pants dinner in the Four Seasons Hotel – I can accomplish amazing work without causing concentric rings of disturbance.
I’m grateful for a decade of participating in the learning, mentoring, and loving community my son and I have found at Wilderness Awareness School and I look forward to the decade to come!