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Wilderness Treatment Provides Perspective

By Stephen C. Schultz

Editors Note: This is another excerpt from some of the material that teens and young adults learn while at RedCliff Ascent. Students gain physical competency, develop emotional insight and demonstrate improved maturity. This particular segment provides a thoughtful perspective for teens and young adults who have been raised in relative comfort.

Many “primitive” peoples considered the earth to be their true mother and the sky their father, and that there was a grandfather, (Creator) somewhere beyond it all.  In this you can see a basic difference between the worldview of the old ones and of our own.  They thought they belonged to the earth; we believe that the earth belongs to us.  You wouldn’t cut off your mother’s hair, or drain out her life’s blood.  You wouldn’t blow smoke in your fathers face, or poison his breath.  Yet we have no hesitation in destroying anything that is merely a possession.  We seem to have this notion that we can just run down to Walmart and get another planet when we use this one up. 
Those who lived a hunter/gatherer existence were usually pretty low impact, they didn’t stay in one place too long, and they didn’t make very much that wasn’t bio-degradable (sound familiar?). They were also nomadic in lifestyle, they followed the herds and the seasons in the most efficient way possible.  For instance, a small family group might shelter in a deep valley during the winter; then, as spring warmed the lowlands, they could follow the new growth and young, vitamin-rich greens up the slopes as the snows receded.  Then spend summer in the cooler highlands.  Finally, as fall arrives, the family follows the frost and deer and berries down slope until they are back in a sheltered valley again.  And this was the way life was, once upon a time.

Your experience in the program will also follow the nomadic lifestyle. Although there are items given to you upon entering the program, such as the food you eat, there is still a strong reliance on the earth that you will experience. The water you drink, the wood you gather to stay warm, and the elements that create comfort or miserable conditions are fundamentally a part of the program. As you come to understand your reliance on the earth perhaps your appreciation for what it provides will grow. Simple luxuries like lying on a sofa will take on new meaning.


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