By Bianca Salinas
Looking up at Sequoia Canyon, I am humbled by the sheer steepness and final climb to the summit. This trip has brought me to discover things I’ve never seen or known to be possible. I stood there breathless, my eyes bright and alert, my heart pounding wildly, while I take in the silent and beautiful surroundings. This is a reprieve from my every day life.
I’m a city kid, born and raised. My wake up is to the sound of sirens passing by, jets flying overhead, and cars cruising down city streets with music blaring from stereo windows. I fall asleep to the bright city light posts outside my 2nd story window, flickering throughout the night.
I will never forget the first time I went camping. It was complete culture shock. Stepping out of a white van, filled with schoolmates, I was refreshed by the sweet smell of the pine trees towering overhead. We prided ourselves in being almost 13 and thought we were capable of anything.
All my equipment was borrowed. My backpack was 35 lbs and bigger than me, but I couldn’t have cared less. We were all in this together, and 90% of us were first-timers. Gazing across the Sierras, I had never seen such grandeur and I was astounded by how big and powerful things could really be.
The outdoors have become my escape, my ground, my home. Now, when I work as a counselor teaching kids outdoor wilderness survival skills, I want to immerse them in the wonders of the outdoors. I know how much a life can be completely changed if they step outside their front door and past the city streets. Many of the kids I teach are city kids, and most are Hispanic and have never stepped outside their comfort zone to see the wilderness. Every time it’s life changing, and every time I’m gratified to see the impact the outdoors can have on a life. Since my first trip to Sequoia National Park, I have come to realize the importance of giving every kid a chance to step outside.
Bianca Salinas is a senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. She is Mexican-American; her dad was born and raised in Mexico, and her mom was born in Mexico and raised in Venezuela. She has two younger twin sisters both of whom are twelve years old. She has been passionate about the outdoors ever since she went on her first camping trip in the first grade, and to this day she has continued to develop her love for the wilderness through leadership training and hiking around the Bay Area. Her favorite hike was on a backpacking trip to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. She is a counselor at a summer camp in Maine, where she is responsible for teaching girls Outdoor Living Skills, such as ecology, camp craft, canoeing, map & compass, and more. Being outdoors is her favorite pastime, and she thinks that everyone should be given the opportunity to explore the outdoors and hopes that everyone will appreciate it as much as she does.