Mt. Rainier from My Wonderland Trail trip, July 2006

I was going through the Summit for Someone/Big City Mountaineers web site recently, looking for some stuff for my fund-raising campaign and came across this video that describes the program. It’s pretty cool with interviews from climbers, guides and the youth who benefit from all our fundraising.

As I was watching it, I started seriously thinking, Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? Do I know youth who would benefit from this? I’ve been so caught up in the excitement of brainstorming fund-raising ideas and the thought of doing Rainier with an all-women team and Sara that I  never actually sat down to think about the Big Question. And I know, subconsciously, it’s been bugging me.

Then someone in the video mentioned Boy Scouts.

I was not a Boy Scout but I was a Girl Scout. I had to sell the cookies and do the workbooks and wear the Brownie dress and did the “bridging” ceremony to becoming a Junior Girl Scout. I earned my little patches, which my mother sewed on, even though they were a pain to do. I do believe she grimaced when I would approach her with the sash and the latest patch, because, you know, I had to have it done by the next day.

And honestly? I hated all that stuff. I hated the selling of cookies. I hated the Monday afternoon meetings. All I liked were the snacks and the occasional cool crafts. I was motivated by my unknown-at-the-time competitive spirit to earn as many badges as possible but wasn’t THAT motivated. Leadership, respect, blah blah blah.

Then Stacy Cowgill’s parents took over leadership of Troop 1589 in 5th Grade. And they took us camping.

Gear! Sleeping bags! Duffel Bags! Old sweatshirts and jeans! The awesome mess kit with the Army-green plastic cup and the aluminum bowl that all fit so nicely together with a bolt and wingnut. Being outdoors and away from parents. I don’t ever remember getting homesick.

Adventure! We slept in cabins, had camp fires, hiked through Mammoth Cave, learned about stalagmites and stalactites and got so filthy dirty! The BEST trip was on our way out of the woods after a little hike. Mr. Cowgill found what looked like a wall of mud, looked at us girls and said, “Who wants to get out of here by climbing up that hill?”  I was so happy and pleased with myself being covered from head to toe in mud and accomplishing what felt like a pretty physical goal.

I couldn’t get enough of it. And when the Cowgills quit leading our Troop, I quit too. I started running and joined the cross country team. No more crafts and cookies for me. I quickly became connected to the outside.

So, back to the video.

The last few minutes are interviews with the teens who benefit from the program. As I’m watching, I’m finding myself wiping away tears and remembering all my childhood camping memories. I see the tired excitement in their eyes from their trips and just being able to be a freakin’ kid and play in the woods.

And then it hit home – those teens were truly my answer.

So please help me summit Mt. Rainier for these kids and donate to the cause. Every step I take up the 14,411-ft tall Mt. Rainier, I will be thinking about all of you, as well as all those teens who will soon have similar opportunities to learn more about what it’s like to go outside and play! Thank you for your support!