Dear Friends and Family,
As many of you know, I am currently hiking across New Zealand on the Te Araroa trail. I started walking on November 16 and in the last four months have covered 2,600 km (1,600 miles) of forest, alpine, beaches, and high tussock. I have been lost and soaked to the bone; I have met incredible people and woken up to brilliant sunrises. I now have just over 400 km left to walk and a few weeks to do it in. As you know, I am doing this, in part, to raise money for the Gruffie Scholarship fund.
What does hiking across New Zealand have to do with the Gruffie Scholarship?Instead of leaving my job, my friends, my family, and my life for these five months I could have continued to work and quietly donate every spare dime to the scholarship fund myself. But you can’t tell a person, “You should go do this. It’ll be good for you.” If you want someone – teenager, child, or adult – to take a risk and put themselves out there, sometimes you have to say, “Here, watch me, I’ll go first.”
It has occurred to me on the trail that there are three essential steps to accomplishing anything, task or challenge: I can. I want to. I will.
I can. I grew up in the 90’s, the decade of technicolored Girl Power everything. Young women these days are growing up with role models such as Malala Yousafzai, Tavi Gevinson, Serena Williams, and Ilhan Omar. Women in the US and around the world have made incredible gains in the last century, disproving notions of inferiority in every field. And every other week there’s another study like this one reported on in the New York Times about how ingrained self-doubt is in girls and young women: NYT: Why Young Girls Don’t Think They Are Smart Enough
I want to. Before you’ve ever backpacked, hiked, camped, or climbed a mountain, it can be a hard sell. In our quotidian lives, we avoid discomfort like the plague – most of what we’re sold is meant to make our lives easier, more streamlined, more convenient. Being in the mountains is the opposite of that by nature and sometimes by intention. Getting out there is often the only way to understand the value of it, and programs like Outward Bound help people take that leap. Wilderness rights of passage are a traditionally male experience in our cultures, but they hold incredible value for young women, as well. I am trying to be one person in the movement of women who can show this to the next generation.
I will. Not just, “I will do this.” But I will do it with style, my way, by my own rules, with all of my ability and with the understanding that I may fail and that’s okay. I will is huge. I will is terrifying. I will often takes help. So this is how I can help. I work for Outward Bound, where we help students gain the confidence to have their own style and think for themselves. We teach them how to take risks and we create safe spaces for failure. And, practically speaking, the Gruffie Scholarship helps young women who have decided, “I can and I will,” to make that intention reality.
To be honest, even if I stayed home and worked this whole time I couldn’t raise $8,000 on my own. I need help. Over a year ago I decided I could do this and I wanted to. This next month on the trail will determine if I will. All I can do is walk, chipping away day by day at the distance between me and Bluff. I need your help to reach my fundraising goal. Please donate and please spread the word. We have one month to raise the last $2,500.