Comanche, Rio, Black Magic, Spirit. They sound like the names of Harley Davidson motorcycles (or their owners). But on August 27, the ACLCs and I mounted a more ancient form of steed…the steed.
Yup, we went horseback riding! The 2nd Annual ACLC Retreat was held at the American Safari Ranch, and we showed up looking the part with boots, belt buckles, and pearl-buttoned shirts. Christy came too, donning the purdiest lil cowboy hat ya ‘er did see.
The proprietor was a stout cowboy with a salt-and-pepper beard and a Czech accent. He gave us a quick and somewhat crude riding lesson: “With your horse you must be gentle but firm, as with a woman.” And with that, we were off!
Each horse had a distinct personality. Collin rode Black Magic, a world-weary beast discharged from the rodeo because he chose to stop bucking. Michelle’s portly pinto, Rio, was reluctant about heading up the mountain (away from food), but certainly pulled his own weight on the ride home, leading the pack back to the stalls (towards food). Moon and I had a tolerance-hate relationship—her trying to bite my stirrup-ed foot, and me retaliating by trying to make her weave through the aspens.
Authentic as our western wear may have been, we were all pathetically saddle sore at the end of our two-hour ride.
After a lunch of sausage and beans, Steve facilitated the real meat of the retreat. We had a terrific discussion, revisiting the goals of the ACLC crew, reflecting upon our successes from the summer, and looking forward to the fall and “finishing as strong as we started.”
We ended the day by choosing two rocks, one representing what we wanted to leave behind from the summer, and one representing what we wanted to take with us. I’ve committed to disposing the “leave-behind” rocks at a particularly challenging summer project location. The rocks we “take with us” will likely end up in pockets, junk drawers, glove compartments, or knick-knack cigar boxes. Some will get lost in the bottom of Laundromat washing machines, tossed out during end-of-lease cleaning binges, or left behind during relocations. But my hope is that a few ACLCs will be able to hang on to theirs, maybe rediscovering them years later, as has occasionally happened to me from years of participating in this activity. We may not remember exactly what the rock represented. I don’t think this matters—it will still symbolize a time when we recognized our potential for success, and remind us that we, as youth, have something to offer.
-Casey Metz, Senior Crew Superviosr