The Experience of Returning from a Wilderness Expedition

The Experience of Returning from a Wilderness Expedition

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The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to explore the experience of women returning from the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Such women transitioned from a secluded, communal, Canadian wilderness journey of approximately 7 weeks duration, to a Western lifestyle of advanced technology, high-paced, individualistic living. Preliminary inquiry of expedition returnees pointed to a significant number of participants detailing moderate or higher levels of anxiety, paralleling similar findings of cross-cultural sojourners who reported experiencing a kind of 'reverse culture shock' upon coming home. Psychological distress related to transition between foreign environments and home cultures, has been associated with potential health concerns. Qualitative research uncovering the experience of reentry following a wilderness expedition is severely limited, though necessary in this age of increased wilderness and cross-cultural travel. In this qualitative study, unsolicited journal entries of 11 female postexpedition participants currently aged 21-33 years constituted the basis of data combined with confirmatory e-mails further articulating the experience of returning to a home that is no longer home. All women completed at least a 45-day canoe expedition with Y.M.C.A. Camp Manito-wish located in northern Wisconsin during the years 1995-2003. Themes of connection, which served to both facilitate and hinder the return home, peppered the expedition; connection to the land, the journey and the people were universal among participants. Returning from the expedition was a difficult transition period for most participants as they reported wrestling with new self-concepts. Expedition traveling altered their very core selves through a concoction of physical healing, group process, respect for the land, loss and augmented sense of self. Home was newly realized from both environmental and social angles in that the supposed differences clashed so completely with the wilderness lifestyle left behind in the Arctic. Finally, women merged these new selves with the Western culture encircling them through an individual process of changing perspectives. These postexpedition voyagers transitioned through reentry, molding the lessons of trail life onto themselves to fit that culture in which they found themselves. Constantly reflecting, women returning home from wilderness expeditions never completely return, as parts of them remain intertwined in the North forever.... contribute to success in college as seen by better social competence and decreased loneliness. Students who lack sufficient emotional or social support from their families seem to manifest adjustment problems in college (Cretzmeyer, 2003)anbsp;...

Title:The Experience of Returning from a Wilderness Expedition
Author:Helen Mueller Wedin
Publisher:ProQuest - 2007


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