A few summers ago I took an unusual trip to the middle of Floridian no-where with two siblings and several hundred other youth. The trip was more through time, rather than to a place; for we were here to reenact a fraction of what American Pioneers had to bear through, trekking across the plains to the West.
I arrived to the empty wilderness, unexcited, feeling my parents forced me to sign up for this. I met my assigned “family,” a group of youth and four leaders, and we were given a handcart wagon to put our luggage in for the three day trip ahead of us. Families started to pull their wagons, one by one, toward our first campsite about 14 miles away.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIp
First day, during our hours of trekking, we came across some people offering us barbecue and other delicious-smelling foods. However, upon finding out we were of a religious group, they yelled at us to scram, shooting guns to scare us off. We continued on, hungry and sore. We then found ourselves face-to-face with a man at the edge of a river. He had a boat and he said we could use it, for a price. We were forced to give him quite a bit of our supplies before he allowed us through. Once we got to the other side, we were handed lunch and a much needed break.
After lunch I felt I was not contributing enough to the group, so I got in the front of that wagon and started pulling. I pulled for three hours straight, with the help of my family of course, only to find that the men were all of the sudden being taken from our group. We only had five women including me, and now we had to pull the 800 pound wagon in 3-inch sugar sand on our own. This experience was to represent the women who were left behind as men were drafted into the Mexican-American war. I started to feel doubtful, but I trudged on—we all did. We knew we had to do this, and we were extremely determined.
Just as I was ready to break down in tears, we found our men, who were waiting for us; clapping, cheering, and showing how much love they have for us. I wanted to fall to the ground laughing. I wanted to fall to the ground, crying. I wondered how the Pioneers were able to bear this for so many months.
I remember arriving to base camp the next day and getting our family’s lean-too set up. I remember much singing and instrument-playing. I remember falling asleep that night to the sound of thunder, and rain.
I remember Day 3 we had a cart race with another family. My partner in pulling the currently empty, 300-pound cart ran much faster than I, so I ended up slipping and getting my legs run over. I remember being dizzy; I couldn’t see, I could only hear people yelling nonsense. Next thing I knew my two real brothers and several leaders were at my side making sure my legs weren’t broken. I was okay.
The last day we packed up everything and trekked on, looping around to where we started. Partway we were informed that the end was less than a mile away. Everyone cheered; the road was filled with dirt-covered hugs and smiling faces, for this accomplished feeling was greater than anything we’d ever felt in our lives. Nothing could compare to the feeling of reaching a destination so hard-worked for, except possibly, when the real Pioneers made it themselves.
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