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Lost and Found

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For the longest time I’ve been the kind of person who stands back and lets other people take the lead just to stay out of other people’s way. I’ve always been self-conscious and worried that if I don’t act a certain way people won’t like me or they’ll talk about me in negative ways. I’ve always been aware of this side of me and I’ve known it’s not how I want to be, but I stayed that way because it was safer than stepping up and taking on a roll where other people really see you for you and may not agree with it.

Before I came to Chilcotin Holidays I wasn’t in a very good place. I’d lost all motivation, I stopped taking care of myself, and I fell into a roll I didn’t want to be in. I was putting someone else before me on almost every front and over the course of a couple years it completely wore me down. By the end I wasn’t myself anymore. I didn’t even really know who that person was.

When I found Chilcotin Holidays’ website and started reading through it I knew immediately it was a place I had to visit. The pictures of all the wildlife and breathtaking mountains touched a place inside me I’d forgotten about. I’ve always loved nature and appreciated its beauty but I hadn’t been giving it enough attention lately. This opportunity seemed to fit all of my current needs; to get back in touch with horses, nature, and myself. This was the transformational journey that I needed. 

Working here with the horses and the amazing people have contributed immensely to my boost in confidence and self-worth, but there is nothing like the sense of clarity I felt when I found myself at the top of a mountain above our Eldorado camp. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. 360 degree views of endless expanses of mountains as far as the eye can see. Being up there seemed to put everything into perspective. It felt like it sucked every negative thoughts from my head and filled me with joy. The beauty of such an untouched landscape was the purest thing I’d ever seen. The thoughts I’d been struggling to come to terms with in my head suddenly became so clear and seemed insignificant compared to what I was experiencing. I had people literally following me along the edge of a cliff in a place almost untouched by mankind. Being the one giving this opportunity to others filled me with a huge sense of purpose and confidence. These people trusted me completely to guide them into one of the purest forms of wilderness. I felt a sort of high up there. Maybe it was the altitude and thin air or just my own craziness, but I couldn’t help but smile and laugh to myself sometimes. It’s just so beautiful it’s hard to process it all. Even when the wind is trying to rip off my hat, and the rain is soaking my clothes, it’s my favourite place to be and I want people to experience it and feel what I feel when I’m up there. 

When I came back to the ranch I was still smiling uncontrollably. When my friends asked here how it went they could feel my excitement and they noticed a visible difference in my attitude. I started taking charge and responsibility in everything I did. I wanted to be more involved so I started diving into the books and podcasts that really outline the foundation that the ranch is built upon. Understanding the ranch philosophy and the direction it’s moving towards would allow me to get involved and help continue building the culture we strive for.

On top of all of this I rediscovered my desires for the future. When I was in high school I wanted to be a firefighter, like my dad. The way he always talked about how much he loved his job was inspiring. I had all these ideas of what I wanted my future to look like, but I never organized those thoughts. Different things seem to keep getting it the way; travelling, needing money, relationships, bad habits. Before I knew it 4 years had gone by and when I was finally ready to go back to school I’d lost my confidence about firefighting. I felt like I wouldn’t be strong enough or capable enough in an environment like that, and my fears and insecurities had a hold on me.

During my drive out to B.C. with my dad, we were talking about firefighting again, and I realized I still wanted to do it, but I still didn’t have the confidence to go for it yet. It wasn’t until after that amazing trip into the mountains, when I had a talk with Kevan, that everything changed. He asked me what my plans were after this and with my newfound confidence I kind of blurted out “firefighting” without even really thinking about it. His answer was “well why aren’t you doing it?”. That’s when it all really hit me. Why wasn’t I doing it? Why was I letting trivial things hold me back from something I clearly wanted? So, I immediately went on the computer and sent in my application to the September and January program. September seemed like a long shot because it was already June at that point and normally applications need to go in before march, but, one week later I received my acceptance letter to the September program. I couldn’t believe it. This had to be for a reason. 

I’m now less than a week away before going back home, and I can’t wait to start this next chapter in my life. I feel focused again. I feel passionate about something again. I have a direction and a purpose. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to be part of Chilcotin Holidays. My experience here has done more for me than I ever could have hoped for and it is something I want to share with others. I want people to experience personal growth the way I had. I want them to feel as good as I feel now; the feeling of living with purpose.


Author: Dana, Ontario