Over the past 10 days, our group of 12 managed to accomplish truly amazing things. Let’s quickly recap:
- Invasive sword fern removal
- Cleaning shrubbery from park cabins
- Completing (eventually) one of the most complex and frustrating games of “The Human Knot” in the history of the game (only mild cheating necessary).
- Park Ranger truck washing
- Traffic directing
- Successfully scaring a lot of the girls by telling ghost stories around the camp fire
- Trash pick-up, trash pick-up, trash pick-up… to the point where our eyes were permanently trained to identify any article of material out of place.
- Beach clean-up
- Deep-cleaning 5 park cabins
- Completing a gorgeous 8 mile hike through what looked like prehistoric terrain (a.k.a. the “Real” Florida)
- Surveying the elderly visitors of the State Park on their opinions of how important preservation of the St. John’s River is to their quality of life. (As we all know, once you get the elderly talking there is no filter on the rants that may proceed. Some of us got a kick out of this!)
- Helping with Sea World’s Manatee rescue!
- Scenic boat ride packed with all kids of wild life critters… including itty-bitty baby gators!
- Food poisoning… Mmm!
- All you can eat pancake buffet at Ponce de Leon State Park. Our group record, you may ask? 13 pancakes eaten in one sitting. Josh… I am not sure whether or not you should be proud or ashamed. We can agree on the former. J
- Helping maintain a fire-break by digging/ chopping tree stumps out of a long strip of sand. We have the blisters to prove it!
- Completing the longest game of Apples to Apples EVER. 8:00pm to 2:00am… Congrats to Christine! (Who says you need a TV to stay entertained?!)
- Getting our 12 passenger vehicle stuck in a sand bank (ehh hemm... little Emily)!
- Ordering gator bites on the way out of our last day at the park. We couldn’t manage to catch one live, but in the end we still won. Muahaha!
- And of course, the fun hotel games, hot tub, and looong drive back home to College Park.
The whole point of Alternative Break trips is to learn more about social issues (ours being Environmental Conservation and Eco-tourism), step outside of comfort zones, assist local organizations, groups, individuals, parks, etc. whose main goals coincide with the focus of our trip, and to meet amazing people along the way. If you ask me, I’d say all of these things were accomplished.
Now that we are back, it may be difficult to remember everything we learned while in Florida. The pressures from friends, the demand for convenience society places upon us, the old habits we must break… all of these things may hinder the lifestyle changes we talked about during our reflection activities. However, each and every positive adjustment made is a step in the right direction. Lead by example and educate others on the importance of maintaining our beautiful planet. After all, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We have more power than we think.
I miss all of you terribly! I cannot wait for all the reunions we will have to come.
Until next time! <3
Later Gators :)