By Colin Heller, LAS fall 2022
I truly believe that going on the Adventure Treks gap semester was the best thing I could have done after high school. I learned so much about myself, met lifelong friends, and explored some of the most amazing places on Earth. You don’t realize how fun it is being out in nature. While having fun, I feel that I also grew as a person from participating in all these outdoor activities. Being able to see foreign cultures had to be the highlight of the trip for me. It’s just so amazing to me that we are all human, but live so differently.
Having to live with people you just met isn’t the easiest thing to do. Learning how to work with them is even harder. At the start of the program, my group and I struggled to work as a team. No one was trying to be helpful. Everyone would do their assigned work, then walk away. Our bad teamwork was highlighted when going on excursions. When setting up camp, there are many different tasks that need to get done. It’s very hard to set up your campsite when nobody is helping each other. We realized how inefficient we were at getting things done and that we all needed to change. It took us a little while, but we slowly learned how to work together. By the time we were on our final capstone backpack, we were great at working as a team. That’s a life skill that everyone is going to use at some point in time. Whether you’re working with your family to keep your house clean, or with your coworkers to meet the boss’s deadline, it is an essential skill for any adult. I’m very glad that I have learned this.
Also, I am truly grateful that I was able to spend at night with the Cabécar people [in Costa Rica] and see how they live, as it is such a different lifestyle compared to mine in the States. The Cabécar people are self-sustaining and live off the land they own, with many animals roaming over the entire property. With their own source of food, water, and shelter, they are able to not depend on the outside world. I have never gotten to see this way of life back where I live. Everyone is too worried about being more successful than one another, trying to impress their neighbor with some fancy new car. So it was very eye-opening to see the other side of the spectrum, where everyone is looking out for one another… where they use things for functionality, and not for looks. My experience with the Cabécar tribe has made me very grateful for everything I’ve got. I’ve become more mindful of all the things I’ve taken for granted. I’ve become grateful for the people around me.
When you’re hiking all day, sleeping in tents, and cooking all of your food on the ground, you realize that stepping out of your comfort zone is something that everyone should do more often. Knowing that I can thrive in different conditions gives me confidence when entering a new environment, whether it’s a new job, team, or location. The Adventure Treks gap semester allowed me to realize my full potential and learn that I know that I can thrive wherever I go.