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.
Day 2 can be summed up easily: rain, low morale, and a wake-up call.
After having a not-so-challenging Day 1, the group woke up sleepily after staying up till around 1 in the morning. I felt terrible for our instructors—luckily I was able to at least be in my sleeping bag for most of the time the boys were talking, but Kai and Rice were trying to debrief for quite a long time as they tried to get them to sleep.
Kai gave the crew what we call a GPT, a time challenge in which the crew decides how much time they need to do something, and get it done within that time allotted. This morning it was getting out of camp. Unfortunately they went over that time by about an hour. Between that, rainy weather, and a wrong turn on the trail, we got to our rock climbing site about two hours after we were supposed to meet our support team and camera crew there.
Climbing was a difficult experience for a lot of the crew, mainly due to the wet weather. Rocks were slippery and the crew was tired from a 3-mile hike uphill, much different than their quick, flat 1-mile the night before. However a lot of them were willing to try climbing for the first time, and the second time or third time if they didn’t make it to the top. Their efforts were noticeable, and I saw a lot of expressions of well-deserved pride in themselves and others.
After climbing, however, frustration brewed. The wrong turn we’d made earlier caused us to go a mile up steep switchbacks, and then come back down. Having to do it a second time without really needing to was too much for a lot of them—there were a lot of stops, curses, shutdowns. Luckily, due to the nature of challenge, the crew learned a lot from the experience and came out of it stronger.
1. After a wet morning and early afternoon of backpacking uphill and climbing slippery rocks, the crew take a break in the midst of the soggy forest.
2. On this break I start to take snapshots of each participant right after I asked how they were feeling. This was a very honest result.
3. Some crew members feel better than others, however.
4. As is expected, the instructors are feeling better than most.
5. The crew has not yet found much room for organization in the midst of frustration and fatigue.
6. Rice helps get lunch, a wrap reminiscent of cold pizza, going on a rough, rainy day for the crew.
7. Crew members are enlisted to help prepare lunch, while others wait somewhat patiently.
8. Crew members take turns with the spice kit, ready to chow down after a hard morning.
9. Kai surveys the crew. Who knows what he was thinking?
10. The crew goof off during lunch, an effective morale boost.
11. The crew goof off during lunch, an effective morale boost.
12. During this time some members take a moment to themselves, perhaps to either soak in nature or just to rest their brain for a while.
13. Kai refocuses the crew and circles them up for a group activity.
14. Makeshift columns are set on the ground, labeled “Pups,” “Wolves,” and “Alphas.” The activity is for the group to judge their skills shown here and to categorize them into each column as they evaluate their progress throughout the week.
15. The crew work together to determine which of their group skills belong to each skill level in the table.
16. Kai debriefs the activity, giving the crew a chance to collectively decide three main skills they want to work on in the next day.
17. A common, unavoidable challenge of instructors is to keep participants engaged when they’re met with fatigue, hunger and bad weather.
18. Noting the sleepiness of the group, the instructors lead an energizing activity to get the crew going again, a frenetic “hokey pokey” of shaking limbs to wake them up and restore blood flow.