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Final Reflection Paper, By Noah Gershon

The purpose of high school should be to prepare for the future. It should be to ensure a stable future for the students and a better future for the world in general. One of the teachers here at New Vista says part of why he teaches is so that he can live in a world of aware people who make the world a more beautiful place. The current system is set up towards creating more of a career based future for students rather than a better future for the world, although I think the latter is just as important, if not more. Seen in that light, a class like CAP, that gives awareness to students concerning the preciousness of our natural surroundings, and connects us back to our roots in the environment, is one of the most vital classes that a student can take. Until I took this class, my goal in high school was my future, and now it’s everyone’s. Now, whenever I take a class I will be integrating the information I learn in it towards how it can be used in creating a better world.

The technological world we live in can be very consuming. With modern electricity, transportation, communication, all the conveniences brought about by technology, plus having to take care of meaningless careers and appointments, humans get distracted from what matters in life. The beauty of a blue sky with white clouds is not noticed, the oxygen given by the plant life is not appreciated, and nature is cast aside. People naturally become embittered by living in that kind of a world every day. Along with the bitterness comes selfishness and a disregard for life. This is the state of millions, if not billions of humans. This is why I love camping so much. Some people think camping is a chore, but for me it’s the best vacation possible. It is such a relief not to have to worry about any of that worldly stuff. Camping is a state of simply living, with absolutely nothing to distract from that. If more people could be taught to value this simple experience, like is taught in CAP, then I think we would be living in a much different world. There wouldn’t be the problem of governments selling off persevered forest land and throwing out environmental standards because that kind of government wouldn’t be tolerated. I already loved camping before I took CAP, but this class expanded my love and appreciation for nature. I now know how to camp in a much more natural manner than I used to, which can make the experience even better. I’ve learned what to do with fire remains so that it benefits the surroundings, how to create several shelters out of the surroundings, to read maps with more skill, and a bunch of other stuff.

The technological dependence of America and other countries is frightening. As was pointed out, for all of human existence humans have been directly subject to the laws of nature. It is only in the last few generations that humans have broken away from that and become dependant on devices that protect them from nature’s laws. Many skills that our ancestors possessed are no longer known because no one felt the need to remember them. There is a part of me that is scared when I realize that in a survival situation without gas heat, running water, and a food store one block away, I could be in trouble. Now that I’ve learned things like how to start a fire from scratch, how to create shelters that will keep me warm, how to find a source of water, how to be prepared for rescue, how to accurately find the cardinal directions, even how to hunt animals without alerting them, I’ve gained a sense of confidence. I feel like I’ve taken a step away from the ties that bond me to the craziness of the technological world.

I’ve never liked acting out of guilt. Whenever I do something I want it to be for a reason I understand or because I feel it’s right. When I act out of guilt I don’t feel satisfied with anything I accomplish, because it is all in an attempt to alleviate the guilt. The problem is that I’ve never had any motivation for reducing my ecological footprint except guilt. I’ve always cared somewhat, but I guess I never believed that my actions could make enough of a difference, so I didn’t waste my time. It’s made me curious what motivates the great activists. They didn’t start out famous leaders trying to change the world. What was it that led them to that path? I’m not sure but I think I’m starting to gain some understanding. I don’t think it’s so much that they think they can make a difference, as that they don’t have any other choice. It’s either you live for the world or you live against it and they live for it with a passion. The result is, is that they do make a difference. At some point during this class, part because of the thinking the action project subjected me to, part because of all the quotes, and part because of the discussions, I started to care less whether or not I could make a difference, and simply wanted to try. It is still satisfying to know that a difference is being made. For that, I mostly have to trust that it is. In the class we talked about the ripple effect. Whatever I say or do is part of the worlds unfolding even if I don’t notice it at first or ever. Because I want that unfolding to happen in a positive manner then I need to make my actions as purposeful and positive as I can.

CAP is a great class not because of the cool material it teaches, but because it can change students. It has inspired me, changed my ideals, increased my awareness of nature, and brought to my attention my potential, on top of being fun and teaching some of the coolest material. A class that can accomplish that doesn’t deserve to lack budgeting. I consider the things I’ve gained from this class to probably be among the most important stuff I will ever learn at high school, or anywhere for that matter. One last thing that this class has given me is that I am now so much more open to the idea of helping the world. I used to have a slight aversion from becoming like what I considered a hippie, shouting for world peace and environmental standards. I didn’t understand the motives of people who do stuff like that so I avoided it. To understand, I needed to change myself before I tried to change the world. I now have the tools to learn what it takes to help the world along. I’ve become open to information about activists, or about people that make a difference and how that is accomplished. I’ve started on a path that I’ll be on for the rest of my life.

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