Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Joining the Guide Program

I remember the way I felt as the first day of college approached. It was a mix of primarily excitement, but also a little anxiety mixed in. Would I find people to connect with? How would I adjust? How friendly would people be?
These fears quickly dissolved. As I was preparing for the orientation adventure, I was met by a handful of friendly and excited current guides and fellow freshman. Over the next three days, I made new connections with many of the participants and guides on Pre-O. I was now ready to begin college with no fears, no doubts, and a 100% love for my new life.

The guide program has been an invaluable asset to this once scared and uncertain freshman. It immediately provided me with a new home. I have met so many friendly and wonderful like-interested people through the program. I met some of my best friends through Pre-O, and I continue to make new friends with every guide training and training trip.
Both Pre-O and the Channel Islands training trip have been the best parts of my first year here. I still say, eight months later, that Pre-O was the most fun I’ve had at college. January Guide Training was a great experience as well. The trip reignited my commitment to the program. For one week some fellow guides and I camped in one of the most remote national parks, spending our days kayaking, exploring sea caves and hiking. For an outdoorsy girl like myself, it was a great week.

The last night of January Guide Training was mixed with nostalgia and sorrow. I was so grateful for all of my experiences I had and shared with my fellow guides on Santa Cruz Island. And for that reason, I was slightly distraught about its terminus. My biggest fear was that the trip had served to bring us all together but that our bonds would for whatever reason fray. This fear never materialized. I still greet my fellow Channel Islanders with vigor whenever I should run into one. The island brought us together in a way that is tough to break easily. We shared the some unforgettable and “legendary” moments out there. We watched the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean- a rare possibility in the U.S. We got up at 3 am to hike up to the highest point on the island at 2000 feet. We huddled together near the summit for an hour and a half in raging winds that threatened to rip us off our feet. We toasted the long-awaited sunrise with smoked oysters at 6 am. We watched, and laughed, and gagged, as a fellow guide rolled strawberry jam, chocolate, and leftover oyster sauce into a tortilla, and ate it- all. We waded through streams in a part of the island that bore a likeness to the island in the show Lost, only to discover a hatch and a jeep named Hurley. We kayaked near a pod of orcas. We laughed off the minor mishaps, from a guide’s inexplicable fall from a kayak to my own failure at wielding a throw rope correctly. We rooted on a brave soul to finish eating the largest calzone I had ever seen, singlehandedly …Essentially, we shared a week together that only those who were there could understand and appreciate fully. These experiences brought us together, but the memories keep us together. The opportunity to have similar experiences is one of countless reasons why I love the guide program.
The guide program has given me and continues to give me so much. It provides a unique opportunity to get to know people in a way nothing else can. It provides an easy environment for people to bond, be it guides or participants. It trains us and prepares us well to lead outdoor trips. It has inspired me to pursue summer outdoor jobs. It provides an opportunity to get to know others, the world, and myself in a more intimate way. It provides the opportunity to become closely acquainted with the sublime beauty and magic of the natural world. Bottom line: it provides countless opportunities and asks for not much in return, and I could not be happier at this college because of the guide program.


  1. Lots of amazing sunrises and sunsets, amazing food, and a great group of people to spend a week on an island. Good times. Thanks for sharing!