7 Misconceptions about the Mysterious Backpacking Trip: WalkAbout
Misconception #1: “I cannot go on WalkAbout because I’m not an RC or on GCSA.”
It is true that the people who hold these positions are required to go on WalkAbout, but that does not mean that WalkAbout is limited to only them! WalkAbout is open to anyone who would like to participate in this trip—those in need of an HPRA credit, any student leader, including class councils, Senate, Agape staff, etc., or people who just enjoy the outdoors. All are welcome!
Misconception #2: “I would go on WalkAbout, but I don’t want to do solo.”
First of all, let’s explain a bit of what “Solo” is. Solo is a 48 hour experience that you spend alone. The group leaders are close and will check on you, bring you water, and see what’s wrong if you blow your whistle. This experience is designed to put you outside of your comfort zone and to challenge you, so of course it can be intimidating. However, it also has some incredible benefits of time with the Lord, a chance to process what has happened over the summer and throughout the trip, and time to reflect and pray about the year to come.
Misconception #3: “The boars, bees, and bears are going to eat me!”
I would love to tell you that these animals are just mythical creatures similar to Sasquatch and Quadricorns, but that is not the truth. The truth is that these animals do exist and it is possible for you to encounter them during your time in the woods. However, Dustin Fenton and your leaders have all been trained by the likes of Bear Grylls and Steve Irwin’s daughter in the art of animal wrestling. Okay… maybe that is not entirely true, but Dustin and the leaders have taken the proper measures to make sure that they do know how to handle it if you would encounter any of these majestic creatures in the woods. Some precautions that are taken are:
● You hang your food up every night so that animals are unable to get it.
● Norm Hall trains you in the art of animal scaring (similar to what you see in Monster’s Inc.)
● Trails are used frequently and animals tend to stay away
● You are not allowed to bring scented items that will attract animals
● Your leader teaches you how to run away from bees!
P.S. It is rumored that if you encounter a Sasquatch and offer him jerky, he will carry your pack for the rest of the hike.
Misconception #4: “Eating during WalkAbout is so gross–I’m going to starve.”
As a matter of fact, eating on the trail is really good! You get oatmeal, granola bars, peanut butter and jelly, rice, noodles, etc. The best is the cheesecake, made with powdered milk, graham cracker crust, jello pudding, and a fruit topping. Yuuummmm (Also, they accommodate for food allergies!).
Misconception #5:“WalkAbout will be too hard on my body” (Paul)
Walkabout is not an easy task and it will take a toll on your mind and body. During this time the normal things of everyday life now must take place in the context of the woods, including eating, drinking, changing clothes, showering (which is just swimming in lakes), and even pooping and peeing. Even though this may seem like a lot of change for your body to handle, it is possible. Now if you happen to get sick while on the trails my friend Marissa has a story that should calm your nerves.
“On the very first night of solo, 48 hours of fasting and solitude during WalkAbout, which was the third night of being on the trail, I became sick. My solo time was spent underneath the tarp sleeping most of the day and not feeling well. God was there the whole time. The day after solo ended for everyone else I was hiked out, which meant that Emily Fakkema and I walked out of the woods and stayed in a hotel in Cherokee, North Carolina. The leaders were prepared and knew exactly what to do in case someone needed to be hiked out. I wanted to be on the trail with the rest of my team, but it was best to take care of my body. I knew I was in good hands and God was watching out for me, there was no need to worry about the situation.”
Misconception #6: “I am not strong enough.”
WalkAbout is definitely hard physically, but not impossible. You’re in a group that is designed to embody a variety of strengths and weaknesses. This includes anything from physical strength to the ability to cook a meal or tie a knot. Your group will re-pack their bags every morning before hiking, and you will have a chance to communicate with your group what kind of help you would need to physically handle your pack and the day ahead. Remember: communication is key.
Misconception #7: “I don’t know anyone going.”
During the summer, several people work very hard to prepare for WalkAbout, including buying food, gathering supplies, and putting together each group. The groups are put together so that very few people know each other in the group prior to the trip. The goal is to form new relationships and connections, so you’re in the same boat as everyone else! You’ll get plenty close after 10 days in the woods.
Additional questions or concerns? Come to a WalkAbout Informational Meeting on April 8 at 9:30 pm in Snyder 104 or email Dustin Fenton at firstname.lastname@example.org.