If you ever find yourself in the wilds of Alaska, stuck in a tent with an obnoxious teenager, you will wish you had read this article by Lauren Anderson. In it she recounts her experience of a surprising opportunity to talk about the big questions of life. Are humans more than animals? Did the universe come from nothing? -Editor
During the month of July, I embarked on an outdoor adventure that would test my tolerance for adverse weather, steep boulder-clad slopes, and adolescent men with drug and attitude problems. My sea-kayaking and backpacking trip through south-central Alaska, indeed, was more of a social challenge than a physical challenge. The challenge was that the average age of my eleven-member student group was seventeen. The culture shock of interacting (for the first time ever in my life) with teens from affluent families and worldly backgrounds of blatant abuse of drugs, alcohol, and sex, was quite shocking and rather dismaying. One lad, in particular, let’s call him Peter, was a huge test of my patience due to his meticulous ability to shirk most work with procrastination and poor excuses, his disrespect of others made apparent by his colorful and repugnant vocabulary, and his disrespect of the environment, which was unfortunately exacerbated by his laziness. It pains me to speak ill of so ill of one, however, which is why I am quite pleased to relay my best (as in, most pleasant and somehow profound) interaction with Peter, and the coincidental – or, more accurately, providential – lessons I learned from it.