I am writing this at 11,000 feet. I have not showered in 17 days, and I am about as happy as I've ever been in my life. If someone had told me 3 weeks ago all of the things that I would experience, I probably would have been too scared to do it. But standing on the other side of all these hurdles, I have never felt. more capable or connected to the outdoors. This program is as mentally demanding as it is physically demanding. There will inevitably be moments where you feel that you can't go on, but you can. My mental support came not only from within but from the consistent support and encouragement from the leaders and my fellow students.
I think that I have laughed harder, and more often, in the last 18 days than I have in a long time. The people that you spend your time with became as much a part of you as the mountains or the trees. The people are what can get you through a long work day by making you laugh with a stupid joke or a silly song. The human connections, knowledge, and experiences that I encountered on this program have permanently changed not just my views on the environment, but the way that I see and related to people who are different from me or have different perspectives from my own.
If you are even remotely considering this program, my advice to you would be [to] take the leap. You will never be completely ready for something like this, but there is no better group of people or program to catch you when you fall, dust you off, and make sure you to go the top of the mountain.
- A reflection from Elena Costa-Smith, a 2020 Earth Corps Field Studies Student