This summer, I was selected by the Inspiring Girls Expeditions organization to be one of ten girls to go on the first ever Girls On Ice Canada program. This program gave teenage girls from across Canada the opportunity to explore Glacier National Park in British Columbia to learn about glaciology and what field research entails.
During my great adventure, I was given the opportunity to learn about glaciers and the local ecology from the amazing scientists that accompanied us on our trip, all of whom were female. As a young girl interested in science and the natural world, this was extremely empowering to see. My peers and I were even able to conduct our own field research on the glacier, and then analyze our data and do further research at the Biogeoscience Centre in Kananaskis, Alberta near the end of the expedition.
This trip has definitely strengthened my love for exploring new environments, and I can’t wait to bring this experience back to my Scouting Group and hopefully inspire them to try climbing as well. Although this trip required a lot more training and was a lot more extreme than anything I have ever done with Scouts, my experience in Scouts gave me the confidence to apply to—and actually go—on this trip. My previous camping skills from Scouting, such as setting up a tent or packing a backpack, allowed me to be a guide for the girls who were more unfamiliar with it.
Although I was unsure of what to expect from this expedition, I was well prepared in terms of bringing suitable clothing and equipment due to my past experiences with Scouts. The Venturer motto is “Challenge”, and I wanted to challenge myself by participating in this expedition. I truly believe that in order to develop and grow as a person, you need to put yourself in new situations that you can’t control, and work to adapt and make the most of them.
In addition to wanting to climb and explore an unfamiliar environment, I also wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone by taking away the level of security that is always present with my Scouting Group. Girls On Ice was my first experience camping with a group not related to Scouts, and I was a bit nervous at first because I did not know what to expect. However, besides gaining a whole bunch of new amazing friends, I drew many similarities between the two programs and noticed especially that Scouting’s respect for the environment was consistent with Girls On Ice’s environmental values.
In the beginning of my expedition, we were given a brief talk about the Leave No Trace principle. During our entire expedition, my instructors stressed the Leave No Trace principles—minimum-impact outdoor activity and taking care of the environment. Everything we packed going into our journey, we packed and brought out at the end of our voyage. We did not disturb the wildlife or go off trail, even when learning how to identify a certain plant or tree. We aimed to have as little impact on our surroundings as possible when we conducted our science projects. We were here to explore, to learn and to observe, and it would have defeated our purpose of trying to protect this land if we had treated it badly ourselves. No matter what our goals were, protecting and respecting our environment came first, just as my Scouting Group practices within Scouts Canada.
One of the biggest takeaways from my Girls On Ice adventure was the power of perspective, and how it is a lot easier to accomplish something when you change your mindset. A phrase that is now ingrained in my mind is, “Climbing a mountain is just a metaphor for life.” It is not a brand-new phrase to me but now I have added my own personal meaning and interpretation.
This phrase helped me put my struggles and tasks into perspective. To climb a mountain, you have to keep moving forward, putting one step in front of the other. You can look back, but you can’t turn around. It helped me change my mindset because, moving onwards in life, I know that I will get through whatever difficulty I am facing if I keep going forward. I can accomplish any task if I just take one small step at time.
Climbing a mountain seems daunting when you look at it as a whole, but really, it is simply putting one foot in front of the other. Whatever is in my future, whether it be writing essays in school, giving a speech or tackling an outdoor expedition with my Venturer Company, I know I can get through it—one word at a time, one pedal at a time, one step at a time.