We’d moved to Maryland from the Negev desert of Israel when I was nine, and I never was able to acclimate until I came to Widji ten full years later. Nobody had ever taught me just how to dress for the weather. Through interning at NWRC I learned myself, and I have never had those kinds of problems again since then -- not only with cold weather but all kinds. I learned to investigate the situation, ‘map it out,’ talk to people, ask the right questions to make good decisions. The teaching I did came in handy in so many realms, whether it was the map and compass, orienteering, explaining eclipses type of teaching I did at Widji, or the self-defense, martial arts, yoga, arts and crafts, or any other kind of teaching I did later.
I went canoeing often, teaching my mom, aunt, anyone I could how to plant your paddle steadily like a tree, and bring yourself to it. Widji didn’t just teach me how to teach, it taught me how to teach myself to teach. The excitement and high interest level combined with science, the physical and mental together made it all stick, and my confidence as a teacher grew long after I left. You could say it’s like I planted myself, made me my own tree-paddle to bring myself to, so that my goals have ever increased and still do. Widji changed me inside and out: the clothes I wear, where I shop, what I eat, how I see weather, how I relate to people … there really isn’t much it didn’t touch. Oh, and I’ve never ever had the kinds of breathing problems I used to have since then, either. It strengthened my lungs, muscles, and outlook.
Every winter my elementary school would bring us here for a week. It was definitely a trip I look forward to every year. I still remember the importance of eating all your food otherwise you were a contribution to the daily food waste. The snow shoe across the lake was one of the my favorite times. I wished I had more photos to capture these memories. I learned a lot about the outdoor and survival tactics. I gained stronger friendships and not only that, I experienced a world outside of books and pencils. It was great and I hope that many more schools are offering similar opportunities to their students.