Humbled by Nature
By Lauren Pacheco
“On my first GCY trip, as we were going through a rapid in the snow on the Upper San Juan, I remember thinking how much I wanted to be at home under a blanket with my dog, but I pushed through the day. Looking back, those uncomfortable moments are perhaps my favorite, because I feel I have so much more respect for everything around me, and most importantly, myself.”
Last summer, on the Lower Colorado River, there was a big lightning storm. We sat on the rubber boats, listening to our guide, Maddie, read poetry between the loud screams of thunder. It was such a peaceful moment, despite all the energy in the sky. We were soaked from the rain, and nobody spoke except Maddie. We shared an energy I will never forget.
My most powerful connections to Earth happen when I am given the opportunity to row a boat. The water is so powerful, and when you enter the rapid, there is no going back. You have to go the way the water wants; otherwise it will rip the oar right out of your hand. I realize I can’t always be in control. I learn to focus on the present, and respect Earth’s movement. I gain confidence in myself when I come out the end of the rapid, when I am in harmony with the river instead of fighting against it.
I think every young person deserves these types of experiences and the chance to grow in a way unique and empowering to them.
My trips with GCY taught me my voice is needed in the Climate Justice movement. I need to protect these places that have been such a huge part of my life. In 2019, I found myself in charge of organizing the September 20 Climate Strike. After seeing the passion evoked in my peers, a group of friends and I created the Youth Climate Alliance (YCA) to share the youth voice and make more impact on climate policy.
As president of YCA, as well as just existing as a youth in the 2020 climate crisis, I often find myself overwhelmed. One step outside —or ten days on the river — and I find myself even more stoked to vote, protest, get my peers stoked, and overall make solid change!