I took a small video camera on my BCM expedition in the Wallowa Mountains this past July, with teens from the Youth Employment Institute in Portland. I’ve done this the past two trips I’ve been on, and interviewed each of the teens, if they were willing, and it’s become some of the best one-on-one time I have with each of the guys. My friend (and BCM donor) Tommy Riley, who works in audio visual at the Art Institute of Chicago, agreed to put all the footage together in a video for us (and given the amount of wind noise in the original footage I sent him, I think he worked some miracles here).
I told this group of guys — Trae, Jahlon, Dumari, Kumari, and Quincy — that I was impressed with how mature they were at 15 and 16 years old, and that they had their stuff together a lot more than I did at the age of 15.
On our summit day, when all the other teens were having a snowball fight, I looked over and saw Kumari pensively looking out at the view of the Wallowa Mountains spread out below us. I didn’t know when I interviewed him later that day, and I asked him at the end of the interview if he had anything else to add, that he was going to say “It’s been one of the best times of my life.”
That made my epic 8-hour flight from Denver to Portland worth it.
And when I interviewed Trae later, I realized that during our weeklong trip, he had learned something that took me more than a few climbs to figure out: “When I get challenged, I get frustrated and just give up. But here, I didn’t really have that choice. We’re on a mountain — where am I going to give up to?”