Spring Break on the Coast

 

Earlier this month a group of girls from Tacoma Rescue Mission (TRM) headed to the Olympic Coast for their annual spring break backpacking trip. Each of the teens were brand new to the outdoors, and we spent a lot of time counting “firsts”: first time setting up a tent, first time swinging on a rope swing on the beach. We added up over 30 firsts for the girls, who were overjoyed (and sometimes admittedly cranky) to experience the most physically challenging moments of their young lives. IMG_1887

The second day of our trip consisted of walking down the beach through soft, deep sand. Several of the girls on the trip were funny and sometimes dramatic about the physical challenge of carrying their packs across the sand. As the day went on, however, I began to notice one girl in particular, Emily, who was quietly and contentedly making her way down the beach just ahead of the other girls.

Around the fire that night, the leaders identified strengths that each girl brought to the group. John, a leader from TRM, said Emily had shared with him that she enjoyed the solitude of hiking alone; enjoying the peaceful breeze and looking at the ocean even as she grew tired under the weight of her pack. John then pointed out what I had been trying to put my finger on all day. He said to Emily: “If you can figure out, at 11 years old, that time alone and the chance to reflect restores you and brings you peace, you’re going to go very far in life. Most people don’t figure out that they need that solitude until much later in life.”

After the  trip, Emily went back to her everyday, chaotic life where she holds much more responsibility than most 11-year olds I know. At Peak 7, we hope that the strength she found in solitude on the beach is something Emily can hold onto for the rest of her life. That is our prayer for Emily and the youth we serve.

– Julia Horn