Vagabond A Trail-Tale of City Slickers

Hot. Sticky. Rainy. New... 6:45 am, and it's time for Vagabond. I've been a group leader at TrailBlazers for less than a week now, FOUR DAYS, and I'm about to set out on the Appalachian trail for three, leading a bunch of 12 year olds on a hiking adventure; that's right, 12 year olds. I know. With the journey ahead almost certain to be comprised of a few salty tears,sweaty socks, scrapes, falls, bears, screams, weary travelers and a nightmare or two, terrified is an understatement; "guard them with my life " is all the advice I can seem to give myself. Most of my children are first timers just like me; I've never been to camp before. Just the tots, my Co-leader Natalie and I, a few scraggly tents and the AT, in all it's green and intimidating glory; "this should be interesting" i thought...this should be interesting...

...and it was. In fact, it was probably the most interesting thing i've ever done.

My kids and I ate our breakfasts, and with bright eyes, heavy packs and nervous bellies, we were off.


Dropped at our sight, all 24 feet bustling and accounted for, the team started moving. That's exactly what we were too, a team; they were there for me just as much as I was there for them. My nerves began to dissolve, and I soon realized just how incredibly lucky I was to be out there. I had seemed to become a parent, mentor, shoulder, medic and nature buff in all of what felt like just a few seconds.

Vagabonders enjoy the view

The hiking and climbing wasn't a cake walk for them though, as I more than half expected; in fact, it was quite hard. 90 % of my children were from the inner city, and had never walked more than a mile at a time in their entire lives. They were glued to their iPads and phones, game consoles and comfort; many experienced emotions that they "didn't even know they could feel before" as one of my campers had once put it. Two days of rock climbing and 3 miles they faced...

...and two days and 3 miles they completed. I was overwhelmingly proud of all of my campers and their accomplishments over this Vagabond journey. They conquered an array of fears, from heights and bugs, to animals and hills. My kids crushed it all.

I had never in my life had a singular experience teach me so much about empathy, compassion and kindness as this first summer excursion had. I became a leader, and most importantly had a direct hand in giving some amazing kids what I truly hope for them was the summer of a lifetime.

Created By
Sodasia Thompson


Created with images by mbaylor - "Hiking"

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