By Kimberly Germain
I first heard about NOLS through my Summer Search mentor. I hoped I would find some pleasure in a program designed to push me out of mybox. I was excited to learn I would be horsepacking in Wyoming, but then my mentor told me I would be spending two weeks in the outdoors camping. That was where I was worried because I had never been camping—ever—and did not know what to expect.
I had never been camping—ever—and did not know what to expect.
Before coming to Wyoming, I did not expect much from wilderness horsepacking except to ride horses and sleep in a tent. However, I learned so many things about the environment, horses, and my leadership capabilities that being in Boston I probably would never have known.
I learned how to identify geographic features and how to pinpoint those things on a map. In my city life we have GPS, the Weather Channel, and the Internet, and I saw no use for knowing which way the sun came up or weather patterns. Honestly I never really cared for the environment that much and did not pay attention to it, especially with the technology I have to distract me at home. Now that I have spent weeks with the true nature as my home, I want to take care of it more.
Now that I have spent weeks with the true nature as my home, I want to take care of it more.
The most important and most informational part of the whole experience was the horses, or more specifically, my horse Wilson. I was one of the only people on my course who had never ridden a horse, never even slept outside for one night. My knowledge expanded greatly during my course. I learned to trust my horse Wilson because there were some steep passages, and Wilson remained calm throughout. I also learned to give the love and proper care to Wilson, and I feel he came to trust me as well.
I learned to trust my horse Wilson ... and I feel he came to trust me as well.
This course also helped me to find ways to work with people. I had originally enrolled to push myself to become a leader with a group of strangers and to interact with new people as a team member. I learned that being a leader comes in many ways, and I feel that I learned to be a leader. At first I was distant and reserved and did only what I had to do. However, as the course went on, I started taking more initiative, which to me is more of what a leader is. Granted, throughout the course I was not the perfect student. I forgot how to do some things and had poor communication but I just got better and better as the course rolled on. I now feel confident saying I am a leader.
I was not the perfect student ... but I just got better and better as the course rolled on. I now feel confident saying I am a leader.
Kimberley Germain completed her 2011 Wilderness Horsepacking course and returned to complete her junior year of high school. She used her new leadership skills on a community service trip in Guatemala, where she taught English, then returned to finish high school.