One of our trainings at Sprog (see Jared’s post below) was about using the public narrative – telling the story of your campaign, helping people to empathize and understand why you’re so passionate about your issue. So, since I never wrote an introductory post, I figured I would share my “story of self,” the part of the public narrative that recounts how I got here.
I remember the moment I felt closest to God. I was sitting on the canoe dock, just after nightfall, looking out on a surprisingly still Lake Ocoee after another hectic day of camp. I felt this overwhelming peace and calm envelop me, as the crickets chirped and the moon shone. I was surrounded, with every sense, by beauty.
While this particular night stands out in my memory, growing up I was lucky enough to be given many opportunities to get outdoors. My parents had me in a canoe on the Hiawassee River by six months of age, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times we made pancakes on the camp stove in some state park or another. I went on to a private middle and high school with an incredible outings program that taught me how to whitewater kayak, rock climb, and took me on my first backpacking trip – a program that, unfortunately, has since been
seriously downsized. Today, I attend Dartmouth College, home to the country’s oldest and largest college outing program, where I can literally walk on the Appalachian Trail as it runs through our campus and get to beautiful forests and vistas in half an hour, tops.
But back to that night on Lake Ocoee, that incredible feeling of bliss I found in the outdoors. It’s that feeling that has me, somewhat counter-intuitively, spending my summer volunteering in an office in D.C. I know that I’ve been privileged in the amount of access I’ve had to the outdoors. But that shouldn’t be the case. All Americans are the owners of the public lands the conservation movement has fought so hard to protect, our purple mountains and fruited plains, if you will. The joy I feel when I look down from the top of a mountain, or just sit with my feet out under the sun in a kayak, that’s a feeling I want to pass on to as many people as I can.