Growing up, I was often told to sit still or settle down. I found myself getting in trouble and being isolated for behaviors that I honestly did not know were any different than those of my peers.
As a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, life could be pretty confusing. You’re told to follow your dreams, chase your passions and live in the excitement, yet in doing just that I found myself being disciplined. Was I really only supposed to just dream? Was I not supposed to put those dreams into action?
Wyoming is truly a wonderland for kids growing up as I did. The amount of access to the outdoors is unbeatable for any kid with big dreams and a fast heart. Through my adventures, I learned a lot about self-reliance, and furthermore, self-efficacy. I constantly wanted to see how far I could push myself, all while developing the confidence that I would succeed at whatever I put my heart into.
Throughout childhood, I began to notice differences between my peers and myself.
Where other kids wanted to play traditional sports and video games, I was absolutely keen on seeking out adventure. The hyper-activity part of ADHD especially rang true with me. Riding bikes, building forts, skateboarding, swimming, climbing just about anything I could find — I had to be in a constant state of motion.
Fast-forward to present time. I am still running a million miles per hour in several different directions; however, an underly- ing theme of outdoor recreation and education can be found in everything I do. I was able to find focus and balance through outdoor experiences. Through cross-country running and skiing, I learned the importance of pacing myself to accomplish my goals. Through backpacking, I learned how to plan and organize all of the fine details of an expedition in the woods, including being adapt- able for when things don’t go as planned.
Some of life’s most important lessons are taught through out- door experiences. Did you ever wonder why leadership retreats seem to take place in the moun- tains performing wild adventures?
Being able to share these types of learning experiences with others is what gets me so excited about the Antelope Butte project. The Bighorn Mountains provide the perfect classroom for those who might struggle sitting still and paying attention to something that has no relevance to their personal passions.
As people, we learn in so many different ways. Some of us learn through visual cues, memorization or auditory commands; some of us learn best through exploration and kinesthetic experiences. Whatever learning style fits you best, I’m positive that the mountains will provide you with a genuine experience that will leave you feeling more self-aware. So get out there, the mountains are calling.
JOHN KIRLIN is the executive director of the Antelope Butte Foundation.