Message from Gavin Comstock, Volunteer Program Administrator
Recently, I had a great conversation with a friend exploring when it was that we first experienced a “moment of wonder” in nature. Surprisingly, I had to dig deep to identify exactly when the hook was set. Growing up in a family that did a lot of things outside, but not necessarily camping, my formative experiences are characterized as much by people as by place. As much as the outdoors was the setting, it was a combination of personalities, places, and attitudes that informed my enjoyment. It was not until my early twenties and my participation in a semester long NOLS course (National Outdoor Leadership Schools) in the desert southwest that I found myself slack jawed at the surreal beauty of nature. Ultimately, our conversation wound its way from what formed our love of nature to considering why we still prioritize time outdoors, with others or alone.
This latter part of our conversation was a rewarding exploration of values, goals, and enjoyment. Two things that land high in my list of values are relationships and wild spaces. My adventures in life both personal and professional, are my own attempts at alchemy. One of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I do is try to establish the conditions with the best chances of fostering another “moment.” I am motivated to stack the odds in favor of a restorative experience. Many times shared with others, sometimes on my own. Something even mildly transformative to remind me that the millions of little things in life that are so easily overlooked, really aren't so little after all. Perhaps you can relate?
This extends to the volunteer program we are all a part of together. Two of my goals for this community are to communicate clear priorities and the desire to put people first. As much as I want us to complete needed projects in the field, I also want us to enjoy the ride. I don’t place the “what” above the “how.” The “what” for our volunteer programs should be pretty clear by now - needs based, mission informed, volunteer opportunities. I hope the “how” is a little better explained after this little expression session of mine.
Our volunteer community should be in the business of making “moments.” That is what keeps us coming back. Regardless of the program or whether you are in a group or alone, my greatest wish is that as a community we continue to play alchemist and leave some space for these moments to transform our days. This is the most powerful tool we have to encourage others to join us, to lend a hand, to listen when we speak. When it comes to conservation and caring for our lands, every effort we make to steward a place has an equally powerful effect on us. Positive experience in nature while volunteering as part of a community, is a uniquely potent blend of two things central to being a human. We seek more of that which we remember fondly, we want to recreate the pleasure experience. We also want to be part of a group, with shared experiences being a main contributor to the idea of community.
So next time you join us, remember what we are a part of and what we are creating. You could be the spark needed. The sunrise we collectively witness might actually be the most important part of our work that day. Listening intently to your new teammate sharing could be what stands out in their memory later. Sincerely acknowledging that we had a great time together could be more powerful than we know. If we can all approach our next opportunity with this in mind, it is anyone’s guess just how good of a day we might have.
The best is still ahead!
Gavin Comstock, Volunteer Programs Administrator
To learn more about the Open Space Authority's Volunteer Program, click here.