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“Jump Amy, jump!” shouted my friends all around me. I was on the top of high dive looking out over the Wakulla Spring, the wet concrete rough on my feet. The jump seemed way too high and I knew the water would be cold enough to feel like needles poking my skin. I stood there contemplating for a moment whether or not risking the jump would be worth it and I instantly knew that these were the experiences I would remember for a lifetime. “1, 2, 3, jump!” I braced myself for the butterflies in my stomach as I plugged my nose and took a leap, the water smacked my legs and my arms scrambled for the surface. It was exhilarating and I could not wait to sprint up the stairs and do it again. That is only a glimpse of my 4 day, summer trip to Tallahassee, but the rest is just as exciting.
I arrived to the Wakulla Springs State Park on a Sunday afternoon with two friends from my school. We unloaded our bags from the truck and lugged them up the walkway to the entrance of the Edward Ball Lodge, where twenty other students were waiting. I had no idea what to expect and little did I know I would meet people who would impact my life forever. The sky rumbled overhead and the clouds gathered, stripping away any hope for an adventurous trip, but thankfully Samantha and I were roomed together and I quickly informed her the Lodge was said to be haunted. “The bathroom doors open by themselves and the doorknobs rattle at night,” I whispered over a game of checkers, a look of skepticism spreading over her face. We have known each other since sixth grade, but that does not mean she believes everything I say. She laughed it off and quickly reaffirmed her disbelief in anything supernatural, so we picked up our bags and crammed in the elevator with 5 other people we barely knew. We laughed the entire ride up and every time the elevator creaked or jerked suddenly we would scream. From those few moments we all knew that the following four days were going to be some of the most memorable days of our summer and we could not wait.
The SEEK conference I attended was established so that students across Florida could gather and discuss the various ways to help preserve the environment we live in. I returned this past summer for my second year and I had assumed that it would just be another opportunity to travel and learn a few new facts, but I was mistaken. This trip reminded me of the fun I read about in books, but not something I thought would never happen to me. We swam in the spring, took a boat tour, helped preserve a forest, went to aquarium touch tanks, walked a dock, and traveled through the small, unseen towns of Tallahassee while we were environmental friendly at the same time. I made new friends that changed my life and I learned new things about myself. I went to Tallahassee thinking that amazing things would never happen to me and I left knowing that amazing things are waiting for me, but I just have to find them. I learned that who I am should not be defined by others and if I am comfortable and confident with myself and what I represent than that is what matters. This trip helped me to realize that the past is in the past, but I still have my future where anything is possible.