On September 9th, 2007, this reporter arrived at FMA, at 9:15 in the evening, three days after the school year had begun. It was very dark, and I had little time to meet the other students.

I knew I would need rest for the next day, seeing as we were embarking on a 10-day expedition into the mountains. The goal of this trip was not clear to me at the time, but later was revealed.

Over the first three days, we only traveled about five miles. On the fourth day we came to the spot where we would stay for the next seven days; a rushing creek where we would build a bridge for the local people who come to hike the trails of Gentry Creek.

There is one bridge for almost every class, so we used the ones built before ours to get to the site where we would construct our own.

We still had classes, mostly about first aid and survival training, and also kept journals.

I knew the days would be long, so I rationed the food we received (cheese, salami, lentils and rice, veggie stew, granola, trail mix, peanut butter, honey, bread, super fudge, and oatmeal) accordingly.

We started our mornings at 6:00 a.m., with a class, and then worked on the bridge until approximately 3:30 p.m. when we returned to camp. We divided the group into different crews, some making wedges out of wood so we could split logs for planks, others moving stones and chopping planks. We followed this schedule, rotating jobs frequently, and soon enough, we had built ourselves a bridge.

It wasn’t until we returned to the lodge that I realized the point of this expedition, which was to bring the students together as a team, and that truly is what we became. All of us had a hard trial, this reporter not excluded, and on our journey, we all learned something new, not just about our classmates or instructors, but also about ourselves. We realized how capable we are as individuals, and how effective we were as a team, and also how much could be accomplished when we all worked together.

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