Hopefully after reading previous blogs and following the tips given, you have landed a job in the outdoors this summer in a park or forest, doing what you love. But now what? Summer is still a few months away so how do you prepare for it? When I began my first summer at Grand Teton in 2012, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or even what to expect. Here are some things that you might not think to expect from your summer, but that will definitely happen.
- You won’t mind being dirty
You will spend weekends in the backcountry- there are nights when you will stay up late by the campfire, wake up in the dirt, and then go on a ten mile hike. You will spend all day working away in the outdoors, and go out to a restaurant as soon as you finish without thinking twice about how you look. You will be dirty. There are days you will go without showers –something that was a bit taboo where I come from. But you know what, here, its okay. In the land of campers and travelers, no one even thinks twice about a little bit of dirt, and soon, you won’t either.
- Life is slow, and that’s okay
The first two summers and the first winter I lived in Grand Teton, I lived in the northern part of the park, 45 minutes one way from a grocery store. That meant it was at least an hour and a half in the car anytime I needed to go into town. When you can’t rely on wifi or cell phone service, you find other ways to fill your time than you might back home. Days are spent hiking, hammocking, reading, journaling or spending time with friends. You forget there is a busy world outside of the park. You forget that you once spent your days doing homework, running errands, and surfing the web. You will forget that a fun night once meant going out. And somehow, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
- You will make best friends.
When you live in a national park, not only do you work with the people around you, but you also live and play with them. Back in California, I saw my friends maybe a couple of times a week, and even then our time together was interrupted by the constantly checking our cell phones or other outside distractions. In a park, its different. All the time is spent very intentionally- and there is definitely a lot of time to be spent. When the summer ends, you will walk away with lifelong best friends who you’ve shared countless memories with.
- You Will Fall in Love
I am not talking about a significant other here, although given what I said above, that’s also very possible. But you will fall in love with a place and with a lifestyle. No matter what other parks or forests you go to, your first park will always be “your” park ,and you’ll always feel as though your first summer was the best summer of your life. No matter how much preparing you do, you can never truly anticipate how wonderful it will actually be, and how much the people and experiences will change your life. These might not be the reason you chose a career in the outdoors, but it’s the reason you’ll keep coming back.