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How Passion Grows

Nature's impact on my life

Trees+on+the+Appalachian+Trail-+Photo+by+Tyler+Harrington
Trees on the Appalachian Trail- Photo by Tyler Harrington

Trees on the Appalachian Trail- Photo by Tyler Harrington

Trees on the Appalachian Trail- Photo by Tyler Harrington

Tyler Harrington, Editor

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For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about the outdoors. It was first ignited when my grandfather would hike and explore the Berkshire County backcountry. He showed me the land, animals and why it is important to protect and appreciate everything around you. In middle school, my love for the outdoors turned into a way of life, a way that I could escape all the  pressure and stress of everyday life. From the time I got home from school until sunset, I would be outside. I found a new appreciation for the wilderness through teaching myself about the trees and plants and their many uses. I learned how to build fires safely and use a knife responsibly. I would use this time to meditate; sitting in the woods reflecting on my life, focusing inward, forgetting my busy schedule of schoolwork and extracurriculars. The summer of my freshman year of high school, my love of the outdoors evolved into an interest in backpacking after reading Awol on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller. I spent endless hours reading articles and watching movies and videos to get a better understanding of all that backpacking and living off the land entails. I turned into a walking encyclopedia of backpacking knowledge.

This new found love led me to be the first sophomore accepted into a unique course my high school offers, People and Their Environment.  There, I found my perfect space, where the classroom and the outdoors could live in harmony.  My instructors taught me more about the Berkshire Hills that have surrounded me my whole life and how to respectfully navigate them through hands-on experiences. After taking the class once, and then becoming a Teacher’s Assistant for two semesters, I have spent a total of 24 days in the wilderness of Western Massachusetts. Not only is the course itself unique, but it also gives a special opportunity to students. Each student in the class comes from a very different background, but we can all work together leading us to become a tight knit family. Within three days of backpacking, I went from not knowing half of the class to being close friends with many of the students.

Through this course and the interest of my peers, I had the resources and support to start Monument’s Outing Club. After realizing what the outdoors did for me and how it positively changed my life, I wanted to have the ability to share this passion and love for nature with my peers. Since the creation of the Outing Club, our 40 members have experienced new environments hiking unfamiliar peaks and rock climbing at local gyms as well as forging new relationships with people in the community. We have teamed up with our local youth center as well as a trail maintenance group that also focus on youth involvement. The popularity of the Outing Club has been inspiring, stemming largely from instructors and students who have also taken People and Their Environment.  I am proud of how my experience in the woods has grown from a place where I can step away from the hectic pace of everyday life to something meaningful that I can share and teach others about.

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Celebrating the Spirit and News of Monument Mountain
How Passion Grows