Reflections on Lone Peak High School Outdoor Expedition

By Myles Wilson EBS VIDEO INTERN

BIG SKY – An issue for my generation in this day and age is the overuse of escapism. It is easier to play a video game or read a book than do something that requires more effort than clicking a button or turning a page.

Escapism is a basic human desire, yet there seems to be both good and bad types of this natural inclination, bad being the kind that is ultimately unimportant and unmemorable, and good being the complete opposite. As implied, a lot of my peers practice bad escapism (yes, including myself), even if they are not aware of it.

There always seems to be ways to combat the issue of bad escapism, like using the “Pomodoro Technique” to convince yourself that one of the bigger tasks at hand is more important. The most effective method I have found is prioritizing positive, real life escapism over virtual experiences. Another basic human need is interaction with the world, and being social off-screen is a concept that kids of my generation admittedly struggle with sometimes.

Big Sky School District’s annual “Outdoor Expedition” provides a chance for Lone Peak High School students to bond and unplug from the ubiquitous distractions of modern day life before starting the school year. PHOTO BY PATTY HAMBLIN

Lone Peak High School, where I am a senior, gives students an amazing opportunity each school year to do just that: a chance to escape escapism.

Commonly referred to as “Expedition,” each class, grades nine through 12, camps in the woods for four days during the first week of the new school year. Often in locations devoid of common distractions, like cell service, it allows us to reboot. It’s also an amazing bonding experience for both new and old students; and it really does show maturity when a large group of teenagers can get along in the woods for multiple days in a row.

Each class goes on different trips. In my class’s case, we backpacked in the Taylor-Hilgards, hiking up to Lightning Lake, Sedge Meadows, and Alp Lakes. We camped one night on the side of the trail, and then at Sedge Meadows for two days, which included a day hike up to Alp Lakes, and hiked out on the last day.

Having been on every single expedition an enrolled student can go on without being held back, the trip gets better every year. One of the most important tools of escaping distraction is practicing self-discipline, and collaborating with peers, both skills that take time. Each class trip challenges and builds those skills, making it all the more rewarding in the end.

Take the concept of backpacking for example. Setting up camp just so you and your classmates can actually eat and sleep requires a lot of effort. It may seem trivial to some, but for a bunch of borderline-lazy teenagers, it can be a challenge and require maturity. There is a reason why the ninth and 10th graders camp in the same place for the duration of their trip, while 11th graders backpack for two days; and seniors, for all four.

So in the end, do programs like Lone Peak High School’s Outdoor Expedition help students combat unnecessary, unhealthy escapism through interaction with the great outdoors? I am no expert here, but for the most part, I feel like it does. Sure, high schoolers will be high schoolers and sneak some devices with them, but often times they just use them for taking photos. And now that we’re home and back in the classroom, my fellow students and I seem to be a lot more extraverted, and a lot less distracted.

While everyone at some point is likely to share stories and photos on social media, and spend hours binge-watching movies; going on unforgettable adventures, like Expedition, is what we will remember in 20 years—not a funny Instagram post.