This trip was some of the best 70 days of my life. I loved the combination of spending time in nature while also learning about the Southwest and volunteering. Even with COVID, ARCC figured out how we could safely work with most of our partners in person, whether that meant spending four days rafting the Colorado River while learning about water rights or building a fence for a wolf sanctuary. In addition to learning about the Southwest and more academic topics like environmental sustainability and immigration, I learned a lot about myself. I have a better sense of what it what I'm passionate about and how to achieve my goals.
While the prospect of spending 70 days in a tent seemed a little daunting to me at first, by the end of the trip, my tent and the rest of my group felt like home to me. There's nothing like waking up to the sun glowing through your tent and the sound of your friends laughing next to you. I'm grateful that I made so many close friends with whom I still talk to regularly. My instructors were also so passionate about their work. It was inspiring. They cared enough to take time to connect with us as people too, not just students.
If even part of you is considering taking a gap year, do it. I'm so glad I did and that I chose to do an ARCC program. 100% recommend.