Day 12: Jack

When I volunteered to lead a hike to the top of Mt. Crested Butte, I was under the impression that it would not be a super challenging experience, I was very wrong.
7 people started the hike, but by the half way point, only 4 remained. Partly because some of them had to go back and cook, but also because they couldn’t take the altitude.IMG_20160523_162053987_HDR
The hike was hard all together, but the real hard part comes right after the false peak, let me tell you about it.
After the false peak, the trail seemed to disapear. It just stopped. What stood before the remaining 3 of us was just a big snowy hill. We were not gonna let any of that stop us, I was determened to make it.
We begin climbing the snow hill and soon discovered that it’s deeper then we had thought; after the first small hill we were waist deep in snow, taking steps that we would have to pull each other out from.
The end was insight at this point, but there was still a steep hill of snow and rocks to get past. We were trying to hop on rocks (some of which were unstable) to avoid the snow.IMG_20160523_163408164
We got past the rocks, and all that was left was a 50ish foot almost 90 degree climb through the snow to get past, each step we would sink in, sometimes all the way to our waists, sometimes the steps would collapse so much that we did not make progress at all. It was at this point that Matt almost made us turn back, but I was not having any of that.
We finally made it to the top, and of course on the other side of the hill was found a rope and a trail, which really just made us laugh after all the pain from the snow scraping up our legs gave us.
At the top we took pictures and videos and then it was time to head back down, which was really fun because we managed to cut down on time by sledding on our butts down the snowy hills rather than taking the trails.
Overall the hike was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to do it again the right way!!
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Day 8 by Sierra

We are officially 1/4 through the retreat! I am feeling very confident about my completed challenges so far, and I’m ecstatic about all the new connections and friendships I’ve been making. I can’t wait to spend 3 more weeks in this environment!

I started off my day by going to an aerial class at Center Of The Arts. I usually train 4 days a week while I’m at home, so I was really excited to find somewhere I could practice while I’m in Crested Butte. Thankfully, Anika also does aerial silks, so we went to the morning class together
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Meeting new people in the circus community always brings a smile to my face. I can’t wait to go back next week and continue practicing!

After today’s workshop about happiness, a small group consisting of Anika, David, Jack and I, decided to go eat lunch at Izzy’s and shop for craft supplies. On the way, Anika and I took scenic pictures and shared some seaweed Lady In The Tramp Style.

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After a laid back afternoon, Anika and I went shopping for tonights group activity planned by our small group: Fort night. Our groups idea was to build a giant fort in the common room and provide a comfy cozy atmosphere. It worked out perfectly. We made the best fort imaginable. Everyone told funny stories. Everyone was cuddling. Fort night was a success. 13227535_10206268390130044_7808353599076891294_o.jpg13268304_10206268385889938_3330972964620418743_o-1.jpg13221415_10206268389170020_3317878136984945403_o.jpg

Right now it’s five till two in the morning. Everyone is asleep except Anika and I. I am finishing up my rockin’ blog post. I am happy. Can’t wait for more adventures tomorrow. Goodnight sleep tight don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Sierra previously participated in the Unschool Adventures 2016 trip. She enjoys aerial, silks, swing dancing and dark room photography.

Day 7: McKinley

My small group, Autumn’s Group… Just Kidding… Wet Rice, was the first group on food buy/making dinners. I have some experience with food buying and budgeting with a group because I took charge of this quite a few times during the Gap Year. I found myself challenged by trying to find a healthy balance between offering support and sharing my experiences, as well as allowing growth and new ideas to be explored.

The first night we talked about things I felt like I took charge way too much. I was so set on having things go quickly and smoothly that I didn’t think about how important the process is and how I don’t have all the information and ideas. My creativity is limited by my experiences and thought patterns and allowing other people to talk through things allows for more growth as a group. One thing I really liked from that night was how we started by throwing out different dinner ideas, and narrowed it down from there. It allowed us to discuss the pros and cons of different ideas, an example is breakfast for dinner which was immediately shot down because it’s hard to make, and would be even harder to do effectively with so many food restrictions. Plus with 7 people’s brains working to come up with meal ideas, there were meals I personally have never really cooked or maybe even eaten. It was really nice, because most of the different diets were represented in the group. There are a couple omnivores, a couple vegetarians, one vegan, someone with nut allergies, and someone who is sugar, and grain free. I think it helped us come up with things that everyone would be happy with.  At the end we did get the feedback that more meat would have been appreciated which is a really good thing for me to think about since I grew up not eating meat. IMG_7232

At the end of our first meeting I decided to be vulnerable with everyone and talked about how I felt really bad for taking over and how I really want support from the group, by calling me out when I’m acting too bossy and in charge. I also talked about how I feel pretty confident in this area, so I want to support in any way I can. This helped me feel a little more understood by the group, and helped me have more compassion for myself. Acknowledging how I’m trying to grow in this area and messing up is an integral part of growth. In general being vulnerable always helps me in group situations, especially when I feel like I’ve messed up, or am doing a poor job. It helps with the guilt I feel when not stepping up all the time because I knew that if I didn’t choose to step up people might have more understanding as to why.

On food buy day we ended up getting the grocery list together at a coffee shop which made the process a bit more exciting and felt like a treat rather than a stressful chore. Although, I don’t know if the baristas were super happy with having 6 iced Americanos to make all at once. One of the biggest things I learned during the Gap Year is that sometimes when taking a recipe that is supposed to make 4 servings into one that will make 12 (or in this case 24), sometimes the portions are going to be off. If you’re making stir fry, the original recipe for 4 servings might call for two onions, 4 carrots, and a whole cabbage, but that’s mostly just to make sure there are enough vegetable flavors represented, but when you’re making it for 24 you really don’t need 12 onions because no one needs a half an onion per portion. So when making the grocery list we discussed portions as a group, continually cutting things down, and even after that we had a lot of leftovers a couple nights. One thing we never had leftovers of was protein, which is a good thing to note when making food for anyone.IMG_7421.JPG

As far as cooking went, the nights I cooked seemed to go fairly well. One thing we learned was to always give two hours when making food for 24 people. Even when you give yourself two hours you’ll probably still be at least ten minutes late. When cooking for one or even four you really maybe need an hour to do everything, especially with helpers, but with bigger quantity everything takes longer, especially at elevation. Another thing we learned was not just to think about quantity while buying but also when making. There were a couple times where we cut up all the veggies we had and realized that the carrots to zucchini ratio was way off, and ended up either wasting a lot, or just having a rather unbalanced vegetable representation. I wasn’t a huge fan of that night because I hate zucchini….IMG_7274.JPG

Overall I learned a lot about cooking, but even more about how to work in a group effectively and how step back and step up more effectively. I’m still not even close to perfect, but it brought different things to my attention, and helped me think about it in a new way. I want to thank Autumn’s Group… Just Kidding… Wet Rice for being patient with me and for being so willing to work together and hear each other, as well as speak up. It was a really great experience and I’m excited about getting to spend a whole month working together and supporting each other.

McKinley has been a previously participated in the 2014 Writing Retreat. She enjoys dancing, working hard, and goats. 

Day 5: Vick and Anika

Cross-posted from Vick’s personal blog

Right now i’m in Crested Butte, CO for 4 WEEKS! isn’t that insane??!!

It’s one of the most beautiful places i’ve ever been, there’s snow on the mountains in the distance, green grass everywhere, and dogs running around as they please. also people say “hello” to you as you walk by, even though I’m a stranger, it’s absolutely wonderful here. OH YEAH ALSO the other day I was walking around in town and it started snowing! yeah you read that right SNOWING as someone who lives in northern California that’s not something I see very often, it was truly amazing, even though it was for only a second I LOVED it.

I’m writing this in the afternoon of day 5 as part of one of the challenges to start a blog or website, i chose a blog, and why not use Tumblr?? To be quite honest I might regret this later (lmao) but for now this is a-okay with me!

I might keep updating this. but for now, see ya next time!

Vick is a first time Unschool Adventures participant. They enjoy dogs and make up artistry. They chose the Real World Retreat to experience living in a new place/community and learn skills for adult life.

Cross-posted from Anika’s personal blog:

It’s Snowing!

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Photo credit: Anika

Day 3 by Hannah

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Photo credit: Sierra

Today I woke up, didn’t change out of my pjs, and went down for breakfast. The weather was drizzly, and it just felt like a pj day. At 10:00 we listened to a podcast about a black man who interviewed members of the KKK and actually became friends with many of them. We had a workshop on Escaping the Echo Chamber, and how to listen to other opinions, and have discussions with others who have opposing opinions, without it getting out of hand. I personally found this workshop really interesting.

After that, many of us had lunch, and/or went into town. I stayed at the hostel and played games with others. At 2:00, we watched a Ted Talk on bureaucracy, and I don’t think I could explain to someone else what he said, but I was really fascinated by his point of view. After that, I went to my room to relax a bit and ended up taking a 4 hour nap. I realized that I had really needed sleep. I have been fairly overwhelmed the past day and a half, and I think the nap helped me rejuvenate myself.

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Photo credit: Sierra

This whole program is very very different from what I am used to, but I am excited to stretch my comfort zone, and learn a lot of new things about  the world, myself, and others. After my nap, I hung out in the common room until dinner. There was a really great stir fry for dinner, then we had our full group meeting, and small groups. My group played Hot Seat, and came up with a name and handshake, and a high five. We are the Smokey Boards. We decided on this name because Matt, our small group leader, is the person who left the white board on the fireplace, causing the fire alarm. After small group, we had game night, and played Cards Against Humanity, Pandemic, Anomia, and lots others. At 11:00 game night ended and many of us hung out in the common room until we all inevitably needed sleep. Another good day coming to a close.

Peace and Love!
Hannah is a first time Unschool Adventure participant. She enjoys dance and poetry. She was attracted to the Real World Retreat because of a desire to live with other people and to feel comfortable outside of the environment in which she grew up.

Day 1 by Sage

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Crested Butte hostel. Photo: Sage

Days are very subjective. They’re different for each person and can shift from good to bad in seconds. They’re full of different things to learn and discuss and sometimes they’re full of moments that can only be described as home. Home can be a lot of different things for different people; it’s moments, a place or maybe a person. For me it’s this hostel.

This hostel is very important to me so yesterday when the fire alarm was going off at 6:15 in the morning it was a little worrisome. The hallway and downstairs were full of smoke, none of us knew from what but we got out of the building as fast as we could.

As soon as we were outside, the jokes commenced followed by giggling. Despite being worried about the hostel at that time I found myself laughing. We were safe and in the freezing cold; some of us not even wearing pants and someone else wearing only one sock.

It was a real bonding moment, walking to a heated bus stop while the fire department cleared the smoke out of our new home, we hadn’t even been there for 24 hours yet and here we were comforting each other and laughing. It made me feel at home.

Home is giggling in the freezing cold and sitting at the park, in the middle of a field getting to know each other, it’s quick conversations in the hallways, it’s long conversations on a walk and it’s dance parties. Home is everything in this hostel and what happens inside of it.

Yesterday was eventful and overwhelming at times but it ended with me dancing happily surrounded by wonderful people and it was a moment that was home for me.

It felt like everyday should be like this, just as hectic and interesting and beautiful and unexpected. it almost felt like four days were rolled into one because of all the interactions and intensity and love.

It was full of laughter, getting to connect with people who were strangers just yesterday, numb feet, good jokes and so many more things that i hope continue throughout the next month with so many wonderful and incredible people.

I wouldn’t change yesterday at all, we were safe and happy even when something disastrous happened. We bonded, laughed and created something good from a scary moment. I hope everyone else felt like yesterday was as good as I thought but like I said before, days are subjective.

Sage is a long-time participant in Unschool Adventures programs. Previously she has participated in three Unschool Adventures writing retreats, two of which were held in Crested Butte. Sage enjoys writing, and traveling. She came to the Real World Retreat hoping to be challenged and to develop skills to take the next steps towards independence. 

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Crested Butte. Photo: Sage