Five years ago, we were preparing to move from Minnesota to Washington so that my husband could attend naturopathic medical school. Moving cross-country, with young ones in tow, to a state that I had never even visited, I was busy researching activities for our children to be involved in when we arrived. I remember wondering and worrying about how we would find community. I ran across the Wilderness Awareness School online and applied for scholarships for our two daughters to attend. Little did I know that WAS would become our community!
A lump in my throat forms and I get teary-eyed, all rather quickly, when I think about how much this Wilderness Awareness experience has meant to both of our daughters and our family. To discover a place, a community, where our children have made dear friends, where our family has found some of the closest family friends that we have ever known, where instructors and apprentices have treated our children with respect and love, where elders share their love and wisdom, where our children are deeply supported, encouraged to be just who they are, and challenged to embrace their growth and independence…it’s really a discovery of magic, a gift unlike any we have ever known. We have learned the significance and importance of rites of passages. As parents, we have learned to be comfortable with giving our children the freedom to explore, freedom to just be in nature, freedom to trust that they may be self-sufficient in ways we had not previously imagined.
As we begin our journey back home to Minnesota this summer, we are leaving behind an organization and a community of committed people who have shaped our children and our family, too. To say ‘Thank You’ just doesn’t seem sufficient. I don’t know that there really are words to describe how grateful we are. Wilderness Awareness School isn’t just another youth activity. It’s an experience, a community, and a safe place for children to find their way as they navigate their young journeys. It is a place of magic: a place where children and adults alike learn to nurture their souls. It’s a blessing to those who are fortunate enough to experience it.
We appreciate all of the people, resources, and dedication that it takes to make WAS the special experience that it is. We have deep gratitude to the people who have generously donated to the scholarship program so that our family and others who may not be able to afford it may also benefit from all it has to offer. WAS was a life-changing experience for us. I know that the memories we have, and especially our children’s, will be nurtured deep in our hearts for years to come.