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Nature is Healing. Giving is Healing

CarloSanfilippo

A few years back, I remember feeling the need to just get away. I had been going through some rough times and I just wanted a break from my routine, but I didn’t have the time or energy to plan anything big.

As I began searching, I stumbled across Conservation VIP’s volunteer opportunities. I scrolled through an amazing list of options, and I remember wanting to do All of them! After some time, I found that the trip to Yosemite fit my calendar the best. So, I signed up only knowing that I would be heading into the park and helping out.

Soon I received a detailed itinerary of where to go, when to be there, and what to bring. I was thrilled with the specific packing list that would help me be prepared for my time in Yosemite, and before long I was on my way!

Carlo's photo of Half DomeI remember finding my way through that beautiful park to the campsite and was so excited to be in a private part of the park with only the volunteers! It felt like a summer camp for adults. I showed up, found a spot to put my tent, and went along with the amazingly organized and well-run program set up for the volunteers!

Each morning we had a hot meal at picnic tables under the canopy of the forest. Then we would pack lunches and follow the park rangers up to the John Muir Trail where they gave us our assignments for the day. I didn’t know a soul before I arrived, but I discovered a kinship with this tribe of people who all took time out of their lives to travel to that beautiful park to help out, to give, and to serve. Each day we worked to clear rocks, shore up trails and move logs. Midday we found a rock or log to sit on and have lunch together, then we would work until dinner time. I remember being tired each evening but feeling so happy and connected. Connected with myself after a day of giving, connected with the other volunteers as I learned about why they were there, and connected with nature because I was in one of this country’s most beautiful parks. Everyone was there for their own reasons, but we were all there to help. It was so beautiful to see a group of strangers working together for this common cause and what a bonus it was to be surrounded by such stunning beauty!

Everything about this experience was just so wonderful. From beginning to end the communication was timely, helpful, and accurate. The leaders were there to help us do our jobs and keep us safe. And the people I spent time with were a joy to be around. We worked, laughed, played, told stories, made some fun connections, and went our separate ways knowing we had made a difference. I’ll never forget this time and I look forward to more experiences with Conservation VIP!

 

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