Post by Lindsey Slavin
[This post is part of a series of real-time communication from participants in the 2012 Juneau Icefield Research Program. The program begins June 23rd and concludes August 18th.]
It is absolutely amazing how much one can grow when given time to reflect. The first few weeks of JIRP I spent counting the days until I could go home and return to my “normal life.” I went about each day with a strong head and an uneasy heart; knowing that I was going to struggle physically, socially, and emotionally everyday definitely didn’t make it any easier to get out of my sleeping bag. The beginning of this experience was very tough for me and I realize now that I was making it harder than it had to be on myself. I realized that I needed to put forth the effort, strength, and positivity in order to get something out of this adventure.
Originally, my motive in coming to JIRP was an opportunity to have freedom and seek independence. I wanted to see how I could handle myself in difficult situations without familial support. In no way, shape, or form was I expecting to truly “enjoy” my summer here on the icefield. In fact, walking to board the plane to come here was like walking the plank. I just wanted to do JIRP to do it. Feeling sorry for myself was a wasted emotion. Now, 6 weeks into the program, I simply changed my frame of mind and became proud of myself for all that I am accomplishing. I adopted an enthusiastic outlook on life and am able to spread my happiness from person to person.
This is me GPS Surveying. I think I look like a mutant with the antenna sticking out behind me! (Photo by Christian Hein)
Coming on this adventure stripped me of everything that is familiar to me. But instead of hating the fact that everything is new, I have learned to appreciate it (new concepts, new friends, new environment, new feelings, etc.). I can’t even explain how much I feel like I have grown up on JIRP. I have such a different perspective on life. I love where I am right now and I adore who I am with.
This is me with my amazing friends Coco, Marco, Zach, Scott, and Annie at Camp 8. They are all great and I love them dearly. (Photo by Lindsey Slavin)
When I was flown off of the icefield for 2 days to go to the hospital for a torn tendon in my toe, I wanted nothing more then to come back up. My attitude was centered around being OK to return; all pain that I had was masked by my eagerness to get back.
Tobias, a true friend and older brother figure, offered to carry me across the icefield because I can no longer ski! (Photo by Cameron Miller)
I see so many changes in myself. I am such a stronger, tougher person. I no longer allow things to bother me and I don’t dwell on upsetting things. I react calmly, fix the issue, and move on. For example, when I dislocated my toe, my reaction was to pop it back in, tell the field staff, wrap it up, and happily ski 20 miles (unfortunately this resulted in the torn tendon). Though the act of cross-country skiing severely hurt my big toe, I continued on with the rest of the group traversing the icefield. I know you may think that I am a little “coo-coo”, but I just have this new sense of dedication and perseverance. I would have given up in the past, I would have cried and pitied my poor, crooked toe, and I would have complained and requested to no longer participate in physical activity. But no, I wanted to push my limits and keep going.
This is me walking around in my sleeping bag, absolutely loving life on a beautiful Saturday morning at Camp 18. I look like a true Floridian! (Photo by Kristin Timm)
I’ve met friends for life here. I never thought that I would get along with college and graduate students so easily. From the field staff to the students, each has such a special place in my heart. All have helped me immensely throughout this journey and have noticed my transformation.
This is Zach and I. He is the other high school senior on this trip. He has become one of my best friends here and I have grown to love him so much. (Photo by Erika Schreiber)
I know who I am now. I have so much clarity and see my future ahead of me. Though leaving my new family and readjusting to my Florida life is going to be difficult, it is just another challenge that I will be able to deal with. All of my true friends here have reassured me that they are only a phone call away if I need help with anything.
This is Christian and I. He always makes me laugh and is just one of the many incredible human beings I have met here. (Photo by Tobias Küchenmeister)
It is a bittersweet feeling; I wasn’t expecting my homecoming to be somewhat sad. I mean I miss my family greatly but leaving everyone and knowing that this is all over is honestly leaving a hole in my heart (I’m tearing up right now as I am writing this). Everyone has taught me so much and I will forever remember my time here at JIRP. I did it; I came looking for time on my own to discover and reflect and I achieved that and beyond. My confidence, comfort, attitude, and thoughts have positively changed thanks to this experience. I am forever going to cherish this journey and I will miss everyone so much.
I feel on top of the world to have made it this far… (Photo by Tobias Küchenmeister)