Be Your Own Hero

Crhodes  122 .jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Have you ever noticed how every movie, fairytale, book, and play that you’ve ever read, watched, or heard all follow basically the same flow and structure? Have you noticed that the hero in all of these stories either gets swept up in an adventure that carries them away from their known world into a land far, far away, or they are forced to confront the stranger who has come to town?

Heroes all receive a “call to adventure” that is often answered, initially, by a denial of that call. They say, “I’m not the chosen one” “there’s nothing special about me” “I can’t do that”, only to discover that they’ve possessed special powers all along. The Hero goes through the process of learning some new skills, struggling, failing, wanting to quit. They find themselves trying and failing and trying again at some important task. The Hero makes sacrifices, finds true friends along the way, experiences betrayals, and discovers their ultimate enemy.

There is always The Moment of the Hero’s greatest challenge: the ultimate test where they must defeat the dragon, blow up the Death Star, or face their ultimate nemesis. In the process of crossing this metaphorical abyss, the Hero must make a leap of faith, they must trust themselves. Sometimes they even come close to total annihilation before recognizing that they are the Hero of their own story; they recognize that deep inside they possess everything they need to accomplish the task and win the day.

Heros journey spiral by thea cooke.png?ixlib=rails 2.1

The Hero then recognizes their true Hero-Nature and they become one with their highest self. In the end, the Hero must always return to their known world and to their people in order to deliver the medicine, the message, the lesson that they learned in that far away land. They return to their “status quo world”, but they have grown, they have moved towards their potential, they have become what they are capable of being. It doesn’t take long for them to begin listening closely for their next call to adventure.

Some of you may be familiar with Joseph Campbell and with the structure of the “Hero’s Journey” that he described in his famous 1949 book, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”. Campbell explains this simple and profound process and, in intricate detail, compares stories and myths from around the world. He compares the structure of Greek myths with the novels of Charles Dickens. He explores and compares the Arthurian legends with West African folktales, and in the process he demonstrates that this Hero’s Journey has a universal structure and an application to all stories, including our own.

Margaret hamilton 1902   1985 as the wicked witch and judy garland 1922   1969 as dorothy gale in the wizard of oz 1939 photo by silver screen collectionhulton archivegetty images2.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
3oup5w1sf3rl.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
Top 10 matrix fight scenes kung fu kingdom 770x472  1 .jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Campbell explains that all over the world humans follow this pattern because it’s the pattern of our own stories. That the stories we tell, the stories we read, and the stories we watch are ultimately our own stories of Being and Striving. They are the stories of our becoming more fully Human through the epic adventures of our lives.

The reason that I’m inspired to share these thoughts with you today is that I want YOU to hear your “call to adventure,” loud and clear. The times we are living in have swept us all up like the tornado that took Dorothy over the rainbow. We’ve all faced our own trials and tribulations in the process of coping with COVID19 and this global pandemic. We’ve all been swept into OZ…Narnia…The Matrix. The most important things that helped Dorothy, Lucy, and Neo survive are the same things that will give us strength and build our resilience.

Rey with lightsaber inarticle 122017.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

There are two main factors which predict success: supportive connections with our friends & family, and a solid belief in ourselves as the Hero of our own Story.

You have, within you, the power to make this time a triumph or a tragedy. You can become the Hero or the victim…it’s all up to you. Symbolically, our “ruby slippers” are our resolve to appreciate and show our gratitude for what we have in the moment, not complain about the comforts we miss. Our “lightsaber” is the positive attitude and hopeful outlook we cultivate in our own hearts and share generously with those around us.

Harry potter receiving wand.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Your “magic wand” and your “superpowers” lay in your ability to help those around you a little bit every day, and to contribute to your family and your community in ways that only you can. This is how you embrace the adventure and win the day!

In the words of the Hopi Elders of Kykotsmovi in Northern Arizona:

“This is the time and we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Please share back with us how you’ve taken on your Call to Adventure in the face of this challenging time. Remember that, at High Trails we GROW STRONG and have been doing so for generations. At Big Spring we are a Brotherhood of Outdoorsmen and those who’ve gone before us have shown us the way. I’ll finish with the words of Joseph Campbell himself:

We need not even risk the adventure alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the Hero-Path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we will find love. And where we had thought to help another, we shall help ourselves. And where we thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.

Back to Blog
colorado summer campssummer camps in coloradoSanborn Western Campscoronavirus
Matthew Cook
About Matthew Cook

Matty Cook has spent the last 27 years in the camping industry, 19 of those as a Camp Director and Executive Director. Matty started his professional camping career as the Camp Director at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in CT, a position he held for 13 years. For the last four years Matty was the Executive Director at Teton Valley Ranch Camp in WY. Matty joined the team at Sanborn Western Camps in January of 2020 and is currently the Incoming Co-Director at Big Spring Ranch. Matty earned a B.S. in Psychology at Northern Arizona University, and a Masters in Social Work at Arizona State. He lists his favorite activities as backpacking (in Colorado and Utah especially), paddling anything on moving water, skiing, and cooking/baking over an open fire…anywhere. Matty is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor and has many years of experience in leading backcountry and adventure based programs. Matty and his family currently live in Victor, Idaho.