This is a question that has been at the center of many conversations for me over the last eight years. I was never overtly drawn to being outdoors until I entered college. Having constant structure, deadlines, responsibilities, and never enough sleep, I turned to nature for respite. Being outside reminded me of summer camping trips with my family and being happy and stress free. Around this time, I found out about a major that was offered at my school called Outdoor Leadership.
When I entered the major, I fell in love with the healing qualities of being outside. I found peace in the adventure. I became enthralled with the culture of the program and the outdoors community. The program I was enrolled in had a very strong philosophy of experiential education. I was challenged to learn by doing, instead of learning by reading. Classes were centered around discussion and challenge.
One of my most memorable trips was the first trip of my senior year. I was enrolled in a course we called Immersion. It was a semester dedicated to trips- planning, packing, and participating. Our first trip of the semester we were presented with a challenge of writing our life stories down and sharing with our group. Some of the people in my class, I had only met that semester. It was uncomfortable, scary, and ultimately freeing. Sitting around a campfire every night one person would tell his or her story. It was the closest and most connected I’ve ever felt to a group of people. Being surrounded by the noises of the woods at night, feeling a cool breeze, and smelling the smoke of the fire brought me comfort and strength to share the deepest parts of myself with almost strangers.
After college, I took a job at a wilderness therapy program in Florida that worked with teenage girls. Many of my deeper conversations with my campers were about healing through being outdoors, hard work, and living simply. Despite spending all of my working hours outside, I still craved the outdoors on my days off. I would spend my free time hiking, exploring caves, and paddling natural springs. I simply couldn’t get enough of being outside.
I believe that being outdoors connects us to a deeper part of ourselves that is rooted in our DNA. I believe nature connects us to something bigger than ourselves.
Why do you adventure? Why is nature important to you?
Marie Cole is a full time employee at Frugal Backpacker in Greenville, SC.
She graduated with a degree in Outdoor Leadership from NGU in 2015.
Her favorite outdoor activities are hiking, camping, kayaking.
Her favorite book is Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.