CAP Final Reflection, by Charlie McGuire
This class has been a great experience for me in many ways. The overnight trips were very fun and educational, especially the second one. I learned what burns well, how to start fires, how to find firewood, how to make quinzes (sp?) and much more. The action project was also a valuable experience, from learning my way around the confusing outer workings of government to working with everyone else on getting all the goals accomplished. The ecological footprint problem is very interesting to me on all fronts – I push my parents to buy energy-efficient cars, appliances, light bulbs and more, and I myself buy energy efficent and environmentally friendly products when possible. In today’s America, though, it’s getting harder and harder to do so. Overall this class has been great, even though it is not without its drawbacks. I look forward to taking it again, maybe even next year, if possible.
The weekend overnights were probably the most fun part of this class. I personally love the outdoors, and so a class where you can get credit for camping (which I never get to do, but always want to) is…well…amazing. I thought that this would be a cool class, but I didn’t expect this! It was amazing how much fun (and frustration) you can get out of a simple bow drill…I now understand why cavemen were so happy to have fire… its really hard to make! One match fires are easy in comparison, and lighter fires are even better. Now it almost seems like cheating using a lighter. Even with our determination to make it happen, none of us got the bow drill to work. If our life depended on it, though, I’m sure we could manage to get it going. It’s amazing how the will to live will do that to you. Another valuable skill is learning how to find wood that will burn well. On the first overnight, I managed to find no end of wood that smoked a whole lot and burned really slow. I wasn’t part of the wood-gathering crew on the 2nd, but I did learn that it needs to be bigger so it can stay mostly out of the snow. You also need to cut that wood into smaller logs so it will work for your fire. Building a quinzee was another part of this trip I’ll remember for a long time. It was not what I expected; I expected it build like an igloo. When we started piling snow in the middle of our area, I was very confused. Once I found out that you dug it out, my confusion disappeared, and was replaced with anticipation. The digging out took longer than I expected, but once done, it was all worth it.
The only problem I experienced was the teams. I got the feeling that everyone didn’t really like me, and that brought me down a little, but other than that, there were almost no real problems, with the exception of my poor cardiovascular abilities and not sleeping very well. These were more of minor annoyances than challenges, but nonetheless, they were problems. I felt I was slowing the hike to the campsite on both overnights, though not as bad on the first one because Chris was also going slow. On the second, I felt really bad because I was going über-slow and slowing everyone down. Me not sleeping very well also badly affected my team and I. On the first and second trips, I had difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and felt that I was accidentally waking my tent/ quinzeemates much too often. I know this negatively affected me, and I am pretty sure this negatively affected them.
Overall, the weekend overnights were a wonderful experience, and would be happy to do them again. As with anything, there were setbacks and problems, but it was a remarkable experience, and something I will remember for a long time to come.
The Action Project was an interesting part of this course. It was probably the most educational part of CAP, but also the least fun. Not to say it was boring or annoying, but it was boring and annoying. I learned a lot of the confusing outer workings of our government doing this; overall a valuable skill, but it sure didn’t seem valuable while I was doing it. The thing that I learned the most about in our action project, behind the mud snail, was line rider. It’s an amazing little toy, and no matter how much you tried to get us to stop, we kept playing it. You hafta admit, though, some of those courses we made were really cool. Well, back to the mud snail. I learned an incredible amount of facts about the mudsnail, and in the end, I almost cared a little. Even from the beginning, I didn’t really care too much about invasive species, but I didn’t have an objection to it. I can work with that if everyone wanted to do that. So I kept going along with it. I was actually looking forward to finding some cool invasive species, and then I heard what invasive species we were going to do: the New Zealand mud snail. Great. Everybody seemed happy with it though, so I just went with the flow. I still don’t particularly care, but, hey, everyone else seemed to like it, so I’m fine.
The challenges with the action project are probably very obvious from my previous paragraph. The only challenge I really had was caring about it. These little tiny snails that I haven’t even seen or been affected by just don’t really have a huge impact on my life. I understand what they do, and all that junk but I just don’t really care- it’s a basic human flaw that almost everybody has. I just don’t really have the motivation to do anything if it doesn’t really affect me. Sad, huh?
Overall, the action project was definitely the worst part of the class, but even under all the not caring; it was still a valuable lesson- in speaking up, doing what needs to be done, and not rushing the government. Rushing the government just makes it go slower. So it was the worst part, but it still was not that bad. If the worst is not that bad, that is the mark of a good class.
We didn’t really talk that much about our ecological footprint, but what we did do on it was the best part of class that actually took place in the classroom. I already do many things to reduce my carbon footprint, but there is always more you can do. I have already changed my light bulbs in most rooms of my house, and will replace more as time goes on. We turn our thermostat up three degrees in the summer and down three degrees in winter. We have cars that are good on gas (not hybrids, but still good) and we have special power outlets for most electronic equipment that cut off all power when not turned on. So all in all, we do much more for the environment than most households. I am very proud of what I have done, and gotten my parents to do for the environment.
There are only two things that I still want to do and those are switch to energy efficient appliances and get wind power. Not a small task like changing the bulbs, but I think that this will help us get even father towards saving the glaciers and giving my future children and myself a better world to live in. both of these have been shown to dramatically decrease your carbon emissions, which is exactly what I have been aiming to do. My goal is to get my carbon emissions low enough that if everybody in the world had the same carbon emissions, we would be okay for two thousand years. No small feat, but I believe it to be doable.
So all in all, CAP was a wonderful, memorable experience that I will remember for a long time. I am so happy I took this class, and I think that future students will love it just as much as I do. I learned so much, about wilderness survival and camping, mud snails and the government, the environment and what I can do, but beyond even all that, I learned about myself. Some parts of my personality surfaced and became stronger and some sunk to the bottom of my subconscious. CAP is a wonderful class and I highly recommend it to anyone. And to anyone who is actually reading all or some of these: Zak is quite a strange ranger. Don’t pay too much attention to him, especially if he is badmouthing CAP. I think he really did like it, whether he says so or not.