Anna Kanepone

About mountains, challenges and the right people – story of an intern in Outward Bound Croatia!

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“So what are your plans for the weekend? Are you going somewhere in the middle of the forest again?” – Asked my sister with a bit of sarcastic face expression. And not for the first time.

My love for the nature and staying outdoors started when I was still a kid and our parents took us on summer holidays. During the day we were doing a lot of hiking and sightseeing, but the best part was always the evenings at the camp site when we were cooking dinner on the bonfire and sleeping in a tent.

I still remember the first time – my parents had borrowed an old, strangely looking army tent from my uncle that had some holes in the sides. My excitement about staying in a tent seemed as almost the opposite to my sister who was terrified and couldn’t fall asleep just from an idea that some snake could get in the tent through the holes. That was also the first time when I saw fireflies – beetles that produce bioluminescence light during the twilight to attract mates. That time the scientifical explanation seemed totally unnecessary, as I was observing the magical lights moving around my feet in the grass over and over again.

During the next couple of years my affection for being outdoors remained somewhere inside me and I believe that’s also one of the reasons why I decided to study tourism after finishing high school and went to a volunteering organization in Iceland during my summer internship that organised projects connected with the protection of environment.

During one of these projects we had to make an expedition to a mountain peak to replace the old hiking path markings with new ones that were quite heavy and made from metal. It was raining, the wind was incredibly strong and we had to carry our bags with the marking signs all the way up. Not to mention that it was already a second time when we hiked this path, as the first time we run out of the signs right before the end. And it was my birthday.

When we finally got to the last part of the path that led up to the peak, everyone was incredibly tired and definitely not in the best mood as we still had to walk all the way back. When we looked up, it seemed that no one has been here for a long time and the old marking signs were almost invisible, making it hard to understand where to go. The path up was extremely steep with tricky rocks that could fell any moment and a wind so strong that can easily push you down to the ground. One step wrong and you can start overthinking all your life.

So there I was – between decisions whether to take the challenge and continue the road to the peak with others or stay down there. With the overall tiredness and weather conditions the second idea seemed more appealing than the first one. But I forgot about something – my team! Me staying there would also mean that someone else has to stay with me as it wasn’t safe to stay alone with no phone connections and maps of the area, as well as to carry my part of the marking signs for the path.

At that moment I realised that not letting these people down and continuing the expedition is more important than anything else. And from the time spent together, I knew that I can trust them, whether we’ll be in the middle of mountain or just in an everyday life situation. So I choose to continue the road, to take the challenge!

After half an hour of intensive climbing up, concentration and fighting against the wind we were finally up. The view was breath-taking and we even shared a small cake that was supposed to be for my birthday. I knew that without these people around me, without the communication and teamwork between us, I wouldn’t be able to get up here.

And here I am again – taking the next challenge that life gave me – this time having a summer internship in Outward Bound Croatia – more expeditions and more challenges to overcome!

Anna Kanepone

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