This week on Survivor: Mountain Classroom Edition! The group headed into the wilderness...alone. We left Colorado and the mountains for South Dakota and the Black Hills. We spent the days leading up to Solos preparing by shopping and packing our individual food, learning to set up tarps and discussing our hopes and fears for our time alone in the woods.
Some worried about snakes, some about the dark, and some worried about the crippling boredom they would face. Armed with techniques to conquer our fears and how to get the most out of our solo experience, we headed into the woods. For most, it was their first time spending an extended period of time alone in the wilderness. But all of our fears were for nothing.
Four days later, we emerged from our solitude. Each of us was happy to see some familiar faces and to share how we spent our time. There were stories of unnecessary panic in the middle of the night, staring contests with squirrels, and waking up surrounded by hungry deer. We all had time to reflect on any problems we are facing in our lives, think about ourselves in relation to the world and people around us, and be present in the moment.
After solos the group boarded Sea Biscuit and headed east, leaving the Black Hills in our rear view mirror, and towards the Lakota Rosebud Reservation. The group would spend the next three days learning about the spirituality of the Lakota people and their connection to the earth around them. We stayed at the White Hat's residence where we would meet new friends in JR, Albert White Hat’s son, his family, Duane and Greg Grey Cloud who all shared stories of Lakota Tradition, like the Lakota creation story. The group learned how to set up a tipi, which provided great coverage from the sleet that was unleashed upon South Dakota during our stay there. The entire process, from set up to starting a fire, took us about two hours. JR then shared with us that it has been done in eleven minutes by two older women.
The group participated in a sweat lodge ceremony, led by family friend Duane, which is a period of time where the body, mind and spirit are cleansed by the steam and prayers are made for relatives. We learned the meaning of “Mitakuye Oyasin,” which translates to “all my relatives” or “everything is related” and conveys that every other being in the world is our relative and should be treated with the love and respect we show to our human families. The Lakota Nation left an everlasting effect on us by their insightful nature of their beliefs that have changed our views on nature, the people around us, and our own spirituality.
As we left Rosebud Reservation, the group realized why its connection to Proctor is so special, and we are thankful because of the opportunity we were given. We left behind our new relatives and began the journey east, across the great plains of the United States. Over the course of the last few weeks the group has spent time growing as individuals and as a group. Moments occurred that will never be forgotten and cherished forever.
Kelsey and Riley