Long ago I was a Boy Scout. My close friends know this, not because I speak often of my time in the scouts, but because parts of the social conditioning they imprinted on me stuck so successfully. Like it or not, the "Be Prepared" ethos is carved onto my soul, and while I sometimes don't work hard enough at being obedient, thrifty, or reverent, most of the other conditioning has stuck too. Its amazing to me that an organization that I feel so conflicted about (and ultimately felt compelled to leave, over organizational politics), had such a strong impact on me that in most things would probably be considered positive.
Well, BSA Motto, Law, and Slogan aside, my time in the scouts left me with one other itch I haven't scratched in quite a while, and that's a love of the outdoors. Between family trips and scouting, I spent a good chunk of my youth outdoors. That practice ended unexpectedly suddenly with college, when time and sleep became precious commodities. I've dragged my wife out on a few outings since then, and even done a couple of (perhaps ill-advised) solo trips.
I like the freedom of a solo hike, but that "Be Prepared" mantra as well as a healthy respect for Murphy and Mother Nature make me a bit anxious when off by myself. So while searching Craigslist for a hiking partner, I found instead the Sierra Club Wilderness Basics Course. I'm pretty excited, as the course consists of weekly classes and biweekly outings including hiking, car camping, backpacking, and snow camping.
Now I'm sure the weekly lectures will be largely review, but then again I can use the review. I'm also hoping that at the end of the course I've gained either some new potential hiking partners, or at least the confidence and knowledge to tackle additional solo trips with less risk.
In any case, I'm sure I'll be commenting on this experience more, and offering my review as it unfolds, but for anyone looking for a way to get outdoors that provides some structure and oversight, this looks like a great way to get it! (My class starts January 18, so sign up and join me if you can!)