On May 21 2018, Jo Coyle, Marketing & Communications Coordinator of Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School, joined Green Street Academy on their school’s five-day four-night expedition to Michaux State Forest. She documented the physical and emotional growth and journey of Crew C—dubbed “The Wolfpack” by their instructors—a group of eleven 15- to 16-year-old young men as they ventured into the wilderness for the first time.
This photojournalistic blog series explores the challenges and discoveries of these adolescents as they encounter both physical and emotional obstacles, and grow through it with help from their instructors, fellow crewmates, and personal insight.
Waking up without rain was nice for the crew, for sure. Kai also gave them a bit more responsibility, assigning each participant a role, from Alpha (Leader) of the Day, to Chef, to Fire & Water (aptly named for those who collected firewood and filtered water). The group was responsible for creating their own time to leave camp and collect tarps, another GTP (that unfortunately, wasn’t held to).
Though breaking out of camp was confusing and slow going, the crew showed incredible improvement when it came to backpacking and communicating on the trail. Their grit had already grown since a rough Tuesday, and they worked together to keep their convoy steady until they reached camp in the early evening.
1. The crew is given ownership of breaking down camp. Here two fold tarps in morning sun.
2. Some of the crew check in with Kai for their morning instructions while he gets the stoves running.
3. The group gear collected for the morning, which is unfortunately lacking most of said group gear. The collection will eventually grow as the morning goes on.
4. One of the “folded” tarps.
5. Kai surveying the campsite patiently. He knows it’s the crew’s first morning being mostly in charge of the AM routine of breaking down camp, and is compassionate.
6. The crew was incredibly helpful to each other when it came to breakfast, sharing the spice kit and making sure everyone got toppings and their desired seasonings.
7. The crew was incredibly helpful to each other, making sure everyone got the correct toppings and seasonings for breakfast. Here one of them unscrews the cap from a spice bottle held in another’s hand. Teamwork!
8. The crew revisits their Pups/Wolves/Alphas table to see how their skills have progressed since the day before
9. The crew takes charge of their navigation for the day quite readily, with help from their assigned “Alphas of the Day.”
10. The crew backpacking, camp shoes in tow.
11. At one point, just out of camp, the convoy mistakenly navigates off trail.
12. Instructor Kai waits patiently to see if the convoy realizes their mistake, taking a step back from directing for the sake of the crew’s learning experience.
13. The crew realizes their mistake in about five minutes, turning back begrudgingly.
14. The crew gets back on track when it finds a well-placed sign on their trail.
15. Kai makes sure the crew gets through muddy, narrower paths without incident.
16. There are always interesting things to be found on trail – including these erratically placed clam shells!
17. A long shot of the crew backpacking through the lush Michaux State Forest.
18. The crew takes a break after a good bout of hiking without one for almost an hour–their longest stretch yet.
19. At this point in the expedition, many of the crew take more interest in nature. This participant in particular scoffed at an inchworm the first day, and now displays one proudly on his finger for the camera.
20. The instructors take note of the crew’s dispositions before they get back to hiking.
21. The crew cross a river, limited to two at a time on this footbridge.
22. Kai and Rice marvel at an old TV found in the woods, a curious reminder of why we practice “Leave No Trace” ethics.
23. Rice takes a moment to relax and regroup at a break for a team-building exercise on the trail.
24. The crew breaks on the trail for a teambuilding exercise, surrounded by gorgeous forest and sunlight.
25. Midway through the day, two crews cross paths. Instructors take the time to greet one another and pose for a group photo.
26. The crews, however, with an impressively strong sense of resolve and grit, greet each other quickly and agree to carry on… much to the instructors’ surprise.
27. The crew start to get sleepy toward the end of the day, breaking here for lunch.
28. The crew start to get sleepy toward the end of the day, breaking here for lunch.
29. The crew start to get sleepy toward the end of the day, breaking here for lunch.
30. Rice double checks ziploc bags, trying to decipher what is hummus and what is leftover oatmeal from the morning.
31. Chefs help prepare today’s lunch: hummus wraps with carrots and cucumbers.
32. The crew and instructors are serendipitously perfectly gathered for a group photo.
33. The crew eventually arrives at camp, where they are told it is time for “Solo,” their time for personal reflection away from other members of the crew. Solo is regarded with mixed reactions, as being alone, for most of the crew, is challenging.