When I tell people about my adventure this summer, they look at me like I’m crazy. When I tell them about eating powdered food, drinking out of mud puddles and hiking 40 miles a week for two months, they wonder why I would ever want to go back as a staff member one day. The thing is, I didn’t love all of that stuff as much as I loved the people who I came in contact with. The friends that I made out on the Trail in the Tonto National Forest in girls band will be my friends for life.
When I first got there, I wanted to go home. Within the first three days of me being on the trail, I had already fallen in love. I learned how to make fire, learned games with my friends and learned the spiritual ways of the program. Of course, I missed home. I missed my best friends and my dogs most of all. But girls band became my second family, and it wasn’t so bad being away from home for that long. I was missing my whole summer going into senior year, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
I had a “crew” out on the trail. It was constructed of three other girls and I. We called ourselves the “fantastic four” and did everything together. We would always hike right next to each other, sleep next to each other and fill our canteens together. Gabby, Aurora and Maddy all got there before me, so I wasn’t going to have them for two whole weeks before I went home. Maddy decided to stay for another two weeks to gain more confidence about getting home. At the end of Gabby and Aurora’s final week, we made a giant 4-person shelter. We weren’t technically allowed to do it, but it was our last two nights together and we wanted to make it fun. After all, we may never see each other again.
If I had to choose my best friend from girls band, it would definitely be Aurora. We were like sisters. Inseparable, always laughing and always loving. Just like me, she wants to become a staff member when she’s older. When I asked Aurora about Anasazi, she said it was “the best thing that had ever happened to me.” Aurora lives in Oregon, but I still talk to her everyday as if she goes to this school. We FaceTime, Snapchat and text each other all the time, and she’s still one of my best friends. “My parents decided to send me to Anasazi because I was struggling with depression and anxiety. That program has helped me more than any other therapy I’ve done at home.”
I still talk to Maddy and Gabby really often. Gabby lives in Wisconsin, and Maddy lives in Michigan. One day, our hope is that we can have a huge road trip and reunite again.