Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Expedition Five took place from January 9 – 14. It was a twenty-five mile trip through deep snow, ranging from one to two feet deep, with an elevation change of 2,600 feet. I felt it was a good expedition overall, even though there were some times when I just wanted to give up. The hike was through some beautiful country and along some very nice trails in Eastern Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. We hiked along the Virginia Creeper Trail the majority of the time, and the campsites were great, although some of them were short on wood. It snowed every day, with the exception of two, and the men had to break trail for two days in a row because Mr. Mike had hurt his back. It was a fun experience to be in front, even as my backpack seemed to get heavier and heavier each day. After a couple of days of hiking in deep snow, my back and shoulders were killing me.
On Day One, it was a normal wake up for me, although I hadn’t slept much because I was so excited. After a good breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee cake, I started getting nervous as we were waiting around to leave, especially when I saw that it was only three degrees outside. The hike that day was a short three mile, mostly uphill trek which wasn’t too bad. There were lots of animal tracks along the trail, including deer, coyote, raccoon, bobcat, and a few dogs. The snow was deep and it was hard hiking through that. After getting camp set up, I warmed my numb fingers beside a nice warm fire, and then retired for the night.
Day Two began with cold and cloudy weather. It was a hard morning for me, because I was tired from the day before. Brent and William were late getting to rally so I had to walk around to keep warm. The hike was mostly along roads and through a tree farm which had a very pretty view. I was worn out by the second break. The seven miles we hiked pushed me and everyone else to their limits, both mentally and physically. It was late and cold when we arrived in camp, so we set up fast. It was a pretty camp site with lots of good wood, and since it was snowing like crazy, there was plenty of water.
Waking up on Day Three revealed another cold, cloudy, and snowy day. We hiked three to four miles along the Virginia Creeper Trail to Trestle Camp. The hike felt much longer than it actually was. I was so tired, I fell asleep by the fire after we arrived in camp, but was soon awakened by a classmate who checked on me because I wasn’t moving.
The morning of Day Four was bright and cold, and there were a couple of inches of new snow on the ground. Getting a fire started was easy after thawing out my hands a little. We hiked another few miles to a new camp site, where we had a tent city with the other guys because of the weather and because the camp site was small. The guys had a huge fire that night with flames higher than my head. It felt nice to have such a fire, and to dry out our gear and sleeping bags.
On Day Five we hiked less than a mile to Straight Branch, where we had a first-aid review class. I was glad to have it, because I like knowing my fellow classmates can help me in an emergency, and that I can do the same for them. The skies were clear for a change, and it was a good day.
Day Six began with a very cold, clear, crisp morning. We were allowed to wake up late. The fire took a little while to start because I put it out by accident, and then it was stubborn until we left for rally. After getting the tent packed up, we headed home for hot showers, parmesan chicken, green beans, porridge rolls, mashed potatoes, and fruit salad.
It was a good expedition for pushing myself and learning more of what I am capable of doing in the extremes of East Tennessee weather.
I was super excited about going home for Christmas Break. I couldn’t sleep the night before, because I was also taking the SAT the day I was going home. The last forty-five minutes of the SAT seemed to take forever, and it bugged the stew out of me because I was eager to see my Grandmother and Grandfather and get on the road home to see my brothers, my sister, my niece, and my Dad and Step-Mom.
While I was there I enjoyed being able to just kick back and watch TV and movies with my family and friends. The two weeks seemed to go by so fast, of course. I did not want to come back due to the fact that I did not want to leave my family and friends again, but I knew it was best for me, so I didn’t put up a fight.
Being back has been hard these first couple of days, but I know once we get back from our expedition and I start getting letters again it won’t be as hard. Heck, we don’t have as long this time until we go home again.
I hope to accomplish more this term, to become more honorable, and to be able to just come straight out without trying to cover myself. I’ve gotten much better at it, and I’m ready to master it now. I’m also ready to continue to prepare for college and get accepted so I can start my after high school life right after I leave FMA.
Christmas caroling was the best! Out of the wonderful songs we sang, the ones I knew were “O Come all Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” and “O Holy Night.” There were a few I had to practice more thoroughly, such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night,” “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night,” and “What Child is This.” The most challenging song we sang was “Dona Nobis Pacem,” a canon that required us to sing three different parts at the same time. While it was challenging, it was beautiful, and it was my favorite one by far.
I enjoyed singing to the neighbors, because seeing their faces and watching them sing along with us made it even more enjoyable for me.
“Self trust is the essence of heroism.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I chose this quote because I believe that trusting myself can lead me to succeed in ways I would never have thought possible. Having faith that I can do what I set my mind to, and even enjoy doing it, requires me to think for myself and form my own opinion without being influenced by others.
When I trust myself, I push myself to the point at which I can succeed in what I do. Clinton Davidson says “Just as water rises no higher than itself, so the confidence of others in you will never be greater than the confidence you have in yourself.” Having self-confidence and trusting myself will help me achieve my goals and dreams more easily.
Being the first legal adult of FMA XI is both an exciting and scary experience.
It’s exciting because I now have more responsibility for my future than I had when I was under 18. Examples of the responsibilities are choosing where I want to live, what I want to do for a living, and planning out other aspects of my future.
It’s scary because of the fear I have of leaving my parents to live on my own after depending on them for 18 years. Whether what I have planned for the future is to work out or collapse under fear is all up to me.
Adulthood is harder than I ever imagined (if I ever tried to). The only thing I can really do differently at this stage of my life is to plan, learn, keep moving forward, and accept that in order to achieve what I desire, I must motivate myself and not rely on others to decide what is best for me.
I have acquired many outdoor skills here at FMA that I never thought I would learn, or need to know, including how to build a stretcher, how to build a shelter, and how to successfully start a one-match fire.
The first skill that Mr. Mike and Mr. Kevin taught us was how to start a campfire in the wilderness, in any conditions, using just one match. First we had to gather twiggies and arrange them like a tee-pee against a stick. Then, larger twigs are placed over the twiggies, so that when the fire is started, it has something to burn. We use our candles to drip wax on the twigs and twiggies so they will light easier. Once we have done that, the fire will start with just one match. I have used this method on expedition, and can say it is an especially valuable skill to have when it is extremely cold.
On the first expedition we learned how to build a stretcher out of sturdy, thick tree limbs tied together with parachute cord. Once the frame is built, branches are woven into it to make it more sturdy and comfortable for the patient. On expedition three, Morgan fell and sprained her ankle, and we actually had to build a stretcher and carry her the rest of the way on it. I am not likely to make a stretcher again, but if I need to, I know that I can.
These are just a few of the outdoor skills I have learned at FMA. These things we have been taught can be life saving, and it’s good knowledge to have under my belt.
When I first came to FMA I hated it. I did everything reluctantly. When I came here I was not used to doing homework because I had gotten into the habit at my old school, if I went to school at all, of not doing the work. Not that smart a choice. In the beginning of the FMA year, I did my homework even though I found some of it challenging, but as the year progressed and the work got harder, I fell into my old habits again. Well, not the part about not coming to school because I live here, but I stopped doing my homework because it seemed easier. I soon noticed however, that I was spending a lot of extra time outside working, cleaning up cow pies, and splitting wood. I gradually had no free time as my privileges were taken away, and I found myself spending a lot of time in my room.
That was when I noticed that it was actually a lot easier to do the homework, and it not only makes me happier, but it makes the teachers and the friends I have made here happier as well. Now, even though I am doing my homework, I am still trying to dig myself out of the hole I dug for myself by not doing my work. So, what I’ve learned is that sometimes you just have to do the dang work, and everything just seems to work out better.
“If a man loves what he does, he shall never work a day in his life.” –Unknown
Love for work is something I wish to have. I don’t want to settle for a job that I don’t like because I think I won’t be able to achieve what I want to pursue. By following my dreams and gaining the job I have strived for, I will find it much more enjoyable to do the work. In all that I do, I will not go for what I know I can do easily, but instead I will go for what I love, and I shall never "work" a day in my life.
Honor is important to me because if I’m honorable I have a sense of satisfaction that I’ve done right. Honor is doing right, no matter if anyone is looking or not. When I’m honorable I stand for right, and I cannot be corrupted.
Awhile back there was a guy who was taunting me, just for the heck of it. I could have responded in kind, but lashing out would cause me to do wrong.
The other option was to try and get to know this guy better, which would either invite more taunting or possibly create a friend. As it turned out, we are now almost like brothers.
Being honorable can create friends, but sometimes it makes people angry or scornful. But doing the right thing is not about people saying, “Oooh, look at what he just did.” Its about knowing that being dishonorable will always cause people to view me badly, but that being honorable will make others see that they can trust me and take me at my word, and that feels good.
Wag the Dog starring Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman gives a hilarious take on how far the President of The United States is willing to go to be reelected. Eleven days before Election Day, the President’s aides discover that the national media has caught wind of a potentially devastating sex-scandal involving the President. Robert DeNiro plays a public relations mastermind brought in to minimize the damage and ensure the President’s reelection. Rather than trying to spin the scandal, he distracts the attention of the public and the media by manufacturing a fictional war in Albania. To help sell the lie, he enlists the aid of Dustin Hoffman who plays a famous Hollywood producer. Overnight, working together, they create war footage, heroes, slogans, and even a song in this amusing must-see comedy.
Most comedies are fun and games, but this one has a serious side. Throughout the movie the viewer is able to see how much power resides in the political machinery of national elections, and how frivolously it can be used. I highly recommend Wag the Dog as an eye-opening gut buster.
Rhythm of the Chain, edited by the group 826la, is an anthology written by the students of Animo Inglewood Charter High School about their experiences learning to live together with their families, their communities, and with one another. One of my favorite pieces, and one that really touched me personally, is a poem by Aris White called Read Between the Lines. The line that affected me deeply reads “So you may be wondering why this young boy’s plight happens to be the worst day in my life. For this young boy could not be replaced by any other. Because this young boy is my brother.” It made me wonder where I would be if I were to lose my younger brother. Even though we may fight or argue, I love him whether he likes it or not.
Freedom Writers Diary, written by Erin Gruwell, recounts her experiences using writing as a tool for helping young people work through their problems. A group of young men and women, who spent most of their time fighting with one another, were placed in a class with Gruwell and asked to share their experiences. While teaching them about Anne Frank, Gruwell asked her students about the holocaust, and was shocked when nobody knew what it was. Through reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and beginning to journal themselves, the students learned that no matter how difficult their lives were others had had experiences just as difficult. They learned that even in the midst of hardship and anger, forgiveness and compassion are possible.
Freedom Writers Diary and Rhythm of the Chain are two books that show that no matter how difficult our lives are, or how deep our anger is, we are all part of a community and a larger family. We can celebrate what we share rather than focus on the things that divide us.