The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
May - June 2007
A young rafter gives back by becoming an ICO leader
When I first rafted with ICO I was a sophomore at Sequoia High School, in Redwood City. A teacher invited me rafting, and I jumped at the chance. He had always wanted to take me to the rock-climbing gym, backpacking, or camping, but I was usually occupied with sports. This time I was free and decided to go.
I found myself with a group of people who didn't really talk to each other a whole lot while in school. I was nervous about being around a lot of "new" people, doing something that would take a lot of teamwork. We started out with an opening circle to warm up the group and get to know names better. After that we started setting up for the river, pumping boats and such. Slowly but surely the bonding process started. As we made our way down river through heart-pounding, adrenaline-rushing rapids sub-consciously we opened up to each other and felt more comfortable talking. During the flatwater we joked around a bit and had fun. By dinner time, people who didn't talk in school were holding conversations. By the end of that weekend, I not only had fun, but made friends.
When I was younger my mom had taken me on rafting trips with her company. She said it was an exercise for "group bonding" and "teamwork", and I thought nothing about it. Looking back on my trips now that I'm 18, I do see how much the river and nature can gently nudge people into working together.
After my first trip I decided that I would enjoy guiding. That trip was a break from the normal stress of school work and chores at home. ICO seemed like a great place to share my experience with other people. Their experiences may be different, but they will find their own love for nature, and helping them do that is rewarding enough for me.
Since becoming an ICO guide in 2005, I've done several trips, with a variety of groups, to rivers ranging from the South Fork of the American River, to the Tuolumne, to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. But all agreed: they loved being outdoors, the rapids were awesome, the food was great, and most importantly they enjoyed spending time with each other, and they all wanted to come back again. I can only take them outdoors and provide the tools they need. How they choose to use that and whether they want to bond are up to them. One of the best feelings is seeing them use those tools well, bonding, and not wanting to leave the river at the end of the trip.
After two years of volunteering with ICO, I have volunteered to be co-chair of its Rafting Section. I hope to help keep this organization going strong. It may mean a lot of work, but I'm willing to do it so that others may gain as I have from nature, and from ICO.
If we are lucky, they will want to come back and share what they took.
ICO Rafting is one of two Bay Chapter Inner City Outings groups. ICO Rafting conducts a comprehensive training program for new volunteers in the spring of each year. No prior experience or training is required. Space is limited, and so there is an application process. Applications are usually due in early February. For more information, please visit our website or e-mail volunteer -at- icorafting.org
© 2007 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
|EXPLORE, ENJOY AND PROTECT THE PLANET|