Mountain Classroom Spring 2019 is off and climbing in Red Rocks, Nevada. Emily '20 shares a moving reflection on her pursuit of her inner child and the role Mountain Classroom has already played this spring in a much needed rebirth in her own spirit. This is the power of Mountain Classroom.
This has been a hard year; I have been challenged physically, emotionally and spiritually. From the moment I returned to campus this fall, to the seconds before I finished my last final this winter term, my heart and mind have been preoccupied by a terrifying heaviness. Because of this, I lost my favorite piece of myself: my inner child.
Tough stuff often forces you grow up, and after some tough stuff, I found myself too serious; unable to laugh at the little things and disconnected from people who could breathe easily. I no longer vocalized all the stupid puns that came to mind in class, stopped initiating spontaneous dance parties in the dorm and began to scoff when others participated in these “childish” activities.
During the past five days in Red Rocks, Nevada, I cannot recall a period of time greater than ten minutes where I have not found myself smiling. It was not just that first day of excitement, not the “honeymoon stage” if you will- it is the program, the people and the place. Collectively, these three factors contribute to an undeniable happiness that is beautifully infectious. When one member of the group is under-the-weather or feeling worn-down, it does not take long before they are lifted up by the brilliant light exuded by the remainder of the group. This remains true in all the activities we have conquered from the first two days of orientation to our three days of belaying and climbing.
This has been an awesome week; I have been challenged physically, emotionally and spiritually… in the best of ways. My first day of Mountain Classroom began when I stepped out of good ‘ole Debby (the Proctor Van) and was greeted by a fleet of smiling faces. Immediately my cheeks inflated, so much so they began to cramp; we were all simply enjoying each others company because that’s how it should be.
After two days of initial orientation, we embarked on our next adventure which was learning the basics of rock climbing. Not only did we fall asleep beneath world-renowned mountains, we got to climb them. Day one of “climbing camp” began in Calico Crag in Red Rocks National Parks, lead by our chipper guide and part-time freestyle rapper, Cody. Cody taught us how to tie belaying knots, set up our belaying devices and finally, how to climb. To say the least, I am fearful of heights, but by the end of Cody’s introduction to climbing, I had successfully climbed a 5.7 route (disclaimer: this is not something to brag about) while acquiring new smile lines indented in my face. Day two of climbing camp brought us to a gorgeous outlook, consisting of limestone formations (coined the “urban crag” due to it’s tasteful aerosol detailing). At Urban Crag, the constant stream of giggles became problematic because, as you can imagine, it is very difficult to belay or climb as you develop cramps from all the laughter. Day three called us back to the Calico Hills, where each member of the team challenged themselves a little more; facing 5.10’s and learning how to repel. Here, our giddy presence followed, still chuckling loud enough that other people nearby could hear our echoing laughter.
As I reminisce upon our time in Red Rocks, I cannot emphasize how much fun, pure genuine belly-ache inducing fun, I have had. Mountain has quickly resurrected my lively spirit and replenished all the yummy bits in my soul. PLEASE APPLY FOR MOUNTAIN CLASSROOM and if you are a parent reading this- please know that your kids are doing just fine and you can breathe now. My last comment I have to make before signing off is remind yourself how to be a kid, even as an adult. It is easy to get caught up in demanding schedules or be consumed by stress while glaring down your GPA, but it is most important to protect your liveliness. Remember what it was like to be a “little you” and think about how you can nurture that child so they don’t turn sour from negativity. You are still youthful, whether your 17 or 70, so act your age and belt it in the shower from time to time. Everyone deserves to reap the rewards of this amazing life, and while it is a little easier to appreciate this sentiment while snuggling next to close friends under cotton candy sunsets, maintaining your inner child is crucial to our well-being and happiness.
With the utmost sincerity,