By: Whitney Wais
This week will be my last week of having a Youth Outdoors crew for the spring. It has prompted a lot of reflection for me as well as my crew. For me it feels odd to be finishing up so soon. It seems like just yesterday was our first day when we were all anxiously awaiting a new group, a new schedule and a lot of unknowns.
And now, my youth are finishing up our service learning project, putting together their new resumes, portfolios, attending our Career Exploration Day and making decisions how they will continue their service in the future. They are making note of all they have accomplished. The many buckthorn and mulberry brush piles they built, all the garlic mustard they pulled and hauled out of Minnehaha Falls and the many beds of roses they uncovered and pruned at the Rose Garden.
For me it has been really fun to see my crew transform throughout the eleven weeks. In college, I was on the quarter schedule so in a way, I am used to having eleven week chunks of learning. However this time around—being in a leadership position—it seems too soon to be ending. And I guess that speaks to the fact that I enjoyed all of my students: their unique personalities, humor and insight into life and work and friendship.
At the end of our Tuesday education day we had a little impromptu reflection about our service, where we tossed a ball of yarn in “popocorn style” across the circle. One person would share a reflection and then hold onto the end of the yarn, so that after a few times, a yarn star formed inside the circle. As we built our star, I was touched as each crew member shared something real that they have learned: how to identify trees, how to work in very cold and wet conditions and how to work on a team and resolve conflicts.
It would be easy for me to lie. To say that I have been able to teach them so much, share all of my expansive wisdom—but I really don’t feel like that has been the case. Instead, I feel grateful that they have been willing to learn and have had patience with me as I have learned how to manage a group of high schoolers. I have been grateful that they have pushed through the difficult moments and given us constructive feedback for the future.
So to all of you—Powderhorn Crew, Thank you for a great eleven weeks. I have learned so much, and I am excited to see where your path leads you.