Cat Smith shares her journey to join the Textless Live More team and her goals to help kids live more!
A relatively small percentage of the population wants to sleep in a tent for 8 consecutive weeks, but that’s exactly what I did this summer. That’s what I’ve done for three summers now. It’s easy to understand why so few people choose to brave the wilderness: there are countless mosquitos, a lot of walking, and little access to luxuries (such as showers and laundry). Even with these difficulties, I loved my wilderness summers. There were incredible views, spectacular hikes, a sense of accomplishment – but the best part was sharing these experiences with wonderful people.
One of my main goals in life is to surround myself with good people. I seek out communities where I can feel at home, where I can grow and thrive. My college as a whole was one of these places for me, along with all of the smaller clubs I was part of: the rugby team, a local sorority, and the pep band. My summer guiding job has been one such spectacular community. Every year during leader training I met some of the best people in the world. This last summer became an especially treasured group as I backpacked through Yellowstone with some seriously awesome high school seniors.
Most of my students from this summer did not know each other before arriving in Wyoming. They showed up with their backpacks, ready but nervous. From there, a real kind of magic took hold of our group. It is a rare thing for everyone to get along and to care about each other, but these young adults did exactly that. Each day I was blown away by the kindness they showed each other; night after night the group grew closer, bonding facilitated by the incredible scenery (and hardships) we found ourselves in. I should also mention that my campers did not have their phones with them for our entire adventure. The lack of cellular devices allowed for greater immersion, and is definitely part of the reason everyone grew so close.
My summer was truly an unforgettable experience, and I did not expect to be part of such a similarly compassionate group of people anytime soon. After my guiding job finished, I joined the TextLess Live More and SADD teams – only to find myself, once again, in an intentional community.
I have only been working with TLLM for about a week now, but right from the beginning I felt like a valued member of the team. The people doing this work do it because they genuinely want to be doing it, because it’s an important cause. The teams are made up of compassionate individuals, people who strive to improve the lives of others. They understand how to effectively make positive change. They are actively seeking out ways to make a difference in the world. I could not be more excited to be the newest member of such a wonderful group of people.
After this summer, the work we do at TextLess Live More has extra meaning to me. Guiding in Wyoming was the first time I had worked extensively with high school students. I was amazed by my campers, and I really miss spending the days with them. I want to do good work for them because they are so, so incredibly important. I want them to be safe drivers, and to encourage others to be safe. I want them to practice digital wellness – to put down their phones, to experience the world around them just as we did when we were all together hiking through woods and meadows and around geysers.
I didn’t know Merritt personally, but I still see her in every one of my students from this summer. Granting each other understanding and compassion while taking on impressive challenges every day – that definitely seems like Merritt. I am so looking forward to being a part of the TextLess Live More work and carrying not only Merritt, but also all of the other amazing young adults I know, with me.