I just wanted to check in and wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I like to check in every year or so, and as I've mentioned in the past - in 1979 I was a student in the month long BYU Youth Leadership 480, Course D-12 under Doug Nelson. It changed my life to this day. I was inspired to attend by my Dad, Karl Koerner who attended two years earlier, and at the time was the oldest person to complete the course at age 56. Wow - I'm 57! Where have the years gone?
Some of my life long memories of the course include:
- My 7-day solo spent in an overhang on the Escalante River. That inspired me to devote much of my adult life to study the outdoors, ecological theology, and share that with others in my career.
- To this day I still remember scrubbing my big #10 can in the river every morning and on my way back up the mesa would collect more Brigham Tea. One day a baby Rattlesnake greeted me by my shrub, so I gave him his alone time and found another bush to harvest.
- I remember laying by my fire, eyes fixed upon Polaris and through the night watch the Big Dipper rotate around that fixed beacon that always points north.
- I remember starting my fire in the first 30 minutes of my solo and while blowing on the embers getting a piece of glowing ash on my arm. I have a scar to this day, and it’s a sweet reminder of my days in the desert.
- Thanks to technology, I've deduced the location of my solo spot is N 37.774437° W -111.423868°
- I remember my ~13 mile run in from the river basin into Boulder. I think I came in 1st or 2nd! When I got to Boulder I called my family from the payphone for a nickel!
- I remember sharing pot holes of water with my brothers and sisters on our small group week. One of my buddies later got Giardia.
- I recall my breath taking traverse through Devil’s Canyon, knowing Butch Cassidy and his gang might have followed the same route.
- I’ll never forget my deep gratitude to God and for the sacrifice the sheep made of his life to feed our large group.
Does any of this ring a bell to you? Since then I’ve had a number of friends and family attend the course upon my recommendation and it made a profound effect on their lives too. Professionally I work in Youth Development through the University of Florida 4-H Program. Here is a synopsis of the program I developed, in part by my experience with BOSS.
The Youth Ecology Series (YES!) is a unique University of Florida / IFAS / Brevard County Extension 4-H program for youth ages 10 to 16. The mission of YES! is to teach and inspire young people to learn about and conserve their natural outdoor environment with a combination of hands-on, classroom and field activities. The goal of YES! is to give young people a broad overview of our natural ecology and tangible skills to thrive and participate in nature and an appreciation for the methods of sustaining our fragile ecosystem. Side benefits of the program include having fun, meeting new people and getting to know some of our local outdoor treasure sites, organizations and related programs.
If any of you would like to participate in a consulting role to my programs I would welcome it. Feel free to share this letter, or parts of it with your staff and alumni. Give them my best and tell future participants they can do it! and are part of something very significant and that the program you deliver is having a positive effect on its students and beyond.
Blessings to you all.