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Windy Peak Magic: An Outdoor Lab Journey to Purpose

"Outdoor lab came to me at the strangest but most perfect time. In December of 2022, three significant chapters of my life came to a close within a few days. I graduated high school, ended a long-term relationship, and got surgery on my back to correct my scoliosis. The whole experience left me anxious, confused, and stuck. Outdoor Lab was the last thing I would’ve expected myself to do with the next four months. Still, I found myself gazing up at the castle at Windy Peak one morning, moving into my cabin, Mountain Maple. 

It didn’t take long for me to realize how absolutely in love I was with Windy Peak. Waking up each day with the pronounced, emotionally awakening goal of teaching kids about nature, themselves, and their community gave me purpose and fire. Quickly, my colleagues became my family, and fine-tuning my teaching skills became my hobby. Extraordinarily, I could feel my body heal from surgery with every moment spent around kids and every class on the eco-trail. I’m not religious nor spiritual, but I often wonder why, when these huge parts of my life ended, the best one just happened to begin--I say it’s “Windy Peak Magic.”



The biggest skill Outdoor Lab gave me was the ability to look at life from a new perspective. Working with kids from various backgrounds has helped me understand that our upbringings shape who we are, and regardless of where we come from, kindness, leadership, and the outdoors deserve a role in that process. I strive every day to share these values with my community.

Furthermore, the systems we live in may work to suppress action on issues we care about, but nothing can quiet the voice of education. Coping with high levels of climate anxiety has always been a part of my reality, leaving me struggling to find ways to take action that don’t feel pointless. The first week, my mentors at Windy Peak made it very clear that my voice MATTERS. As I spent more and more time around kids, it was made even clearer that my voice could be as loud as I make it. I’ve left the internship confident I will make the changes I want to see in the world through education.



I was devastated to leave Outdoor Lab, but life has continued to be exciting. Using the confidence and skills I’ve learned as an Intern, I continued my journey in environmental education in Alaska. I spent my summer as an instructor for Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge’s Salmon Camp program, where we taught kids aged kindergarten to eighth grade about the salmon lifecycle, island ecology, and conservation. The biggest highlight from that experience was the opportunity to teach Alaska Native children in remote island villages. I plan to return to Alaska this summer as a raft guide and naturalist, aiming to educate a new audience. 

I’m so thankful for the generosity of the Outdoor Lab Foundation for helping to support my education as I work towards my degree in Forest Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I’ve really found my place in the forestry program here and am excited to explore field and research opportunities as I continue studying my favorite things in one of the coolest places on earth"

Colette, Windy Peak Intern '23