For most of us high school seniors graduating next week, our main concerns about the coming fall pertain to making new friends, keeping our grades up, staying in shape, and figuring out where we belong in our respective university's communities. But for EHS senior Teddy Holden, fall jitters exceed the simple worries of fitting in and getting the hang of things. Instead, he will be spending a semester in Patagonia with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, starting off his college journey half a world away.
This season long endeavor is an 80 day adventure through Chile featuring backpacking, mountaineering, sea kayaking, wilderness medicine, and cultural immersion. While there, Teddy will put his social, mental, and physical capabilities to the test as he explores a world vastly different than the one he has grown up in, with people he does not know. Teddy will be the youngest of eighteen outdoorsmen trekking through the Andes, and this position certainly does not come with a light load, both literally and metaphorically. When asked about his biggest fear while abroad, Teddy shares that he worries about the, “seventy pound backpacks, brutal distances to cover both over land, sea, and mountains, and the hundreds of miles separating myself from health care.” Teddy has already undergone rigorous training and dieting in preparation for his expedition to ensure that he will be more than prepared for anything that comes his way.
Of course, with every great adventure comes great risk, but it also comes with great reward. At the end of his epic journey, Teddy anticipates coming out the other end as a stronger individual and ready to excel in whatever comes next. He even jokes, “While I'm not sure if I'll ever use my rope tying skills and I hope I'll never need to test my wilderness first response knowledge, I am confident that my character growth in Chile will be priceless.” When asked about his long term goals, Teddy confides that though he is unsure of which career path he will take, he knows in his heart that “whatever my calling in life is, I will be closer to it in South America. I am not going on this epic adventure because it is some part of my greater plan or mission, I am doing it for the challenge.”
Challenges come in all different shapes and sizes. They come in the form of situations we dread, people we find difficult to deal with, and tests we think we’d never pass. We think we don’t have the strength and courage to defeat our demons, until we find ourselves face to face with them. We think we don’t have the strength and courage to defeat them until we do. The incredible odyssey Teddy is about to embark on demonstrates the immense bravery and fearless determination that resides within each Eastchester Eagle. The people and the places that have coddled him for the past eighteen years will vanish as soon as he steps on that plane to Chile, but the very removal from this comfort zone is what will shape Teddy into the man he is destined to be. A huge congratulations and the best of luck to him as he starts the next chapter in his life -- Thank you for making Eastchester proud!