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  • Writer's pictureJeanne Christie

Connect to Wilderness 2023: A Look Back

If you landed on this website wondering whether Connect to Wilderness reflects a real ongoing operation: you are in the right place.  Connect to Wilderness has been up and running since 2018 and growing every year. 2023 was busy and I’m only now getting a chance to add some of the new activities to the website and finally write a new blog. It’s the middle of winter; it’s quiet and there is time to reflect, revise and plan for next year.


Back when I got started: I only intended to do forest therapy guided walks.   But that changed with requests for other kinds of low-key walks and activities.  Since, I already had had the knowledge, experience and skills to provide these, over time the possibilities grew.  The goal of all of these is to provide people with a variety of easy walks, wanders and activities that offer a truly memorable experience connecting with nature.  No outdoor experience, no physical conditioning and no special equipment/high-tech clothing are needed because none of that is necessary to have an immersive, meaningful experience in nature. 


 

Below are some Highlights of 2023 Year in Review


Many nurses suffer from chronic PSTD and the years of the pandemic have made that infinitely worse.  Infinite Kindness Project was created to support nurses in healing, growth, and recovery.  It’s logical that forest bathing could be an activity that is beneficial and this spring I led a walk as part of a day of activities for nurses.  It was a very special day. Healing is not easy. During the forest therapy walk, one of the participants was having difficulty not getting much out of the walk until he felt something soft brushing against his leg. He looked down and a flower look up at him and he felt an immediate sense of the connection.  The forest never gives up on anyone!



I had never heard of the Adventure Travel and Trade Association until Adventure Elevate took place in Portland this year. These conferences occur all over the world and the first day is always a Day of Adventure – which this year included a forest bathing walk.  It was challenging for a group of action-oriented people to slow down and wander; but they did it and it turned out to be a special bonding experience. Most of the group, who were strangers before the walk, had lunch together immediately afterward. Their time on the forest bathing walk created a special sense of connection with the other participants that lasted through the conference--they even commented on it to the conference organizers.



It was a great two-fer on Chebeague Island this summer with two newly created activities.  The fun began on a ferry to the island and an opportunity to visit with the islanders. During my stay I got to try out some new programming around mother trees, mycelium and more and to share the history of the Gulf of Maine with a knowledgeable and discerning audience. You know you are doing well when you tell a group that you are ready to wrap up and half of them won’t leave.  So, we kept going! I truly enjoyed by time on Chebeague and even got to stay in a yurt!





The Nature Photography Walk was popular this fall.  I had a chance to do a refresh and have some plans for continuing to improve it next year.  Composition is something I love to continually experiment with and it’s a joy to share it with others.  It’s a great topic to explore during a nature walk because it is equally important to new and experienced photographers.  Plus, cell phone cameras are amazing and fun to work with.  I learned a lot too!



Throughout the year there are opportunities to create a walk tied to a certain event. For me, the winter solstice is fascinating.  A solstice walk is a chance to understand a little astronomy; explore traditions of people from all over the world and simply enjoy the sunset on a brisk winter day. This year at Kettle Cove there was even a surprise visit by Santa (apparently collecting seaweed).  Participants asked me if I planned for Santa, but sometimes there are wonderful serendipitous events that occur and remind us the world is full of improbable of possibility.  It was a lovely way to wrap up the year.



The groups I worked with this year were really diverse including resorts, recreation departments, groups of friends, honeymooners, families, businesses, nonprofit organizations, academia and more.  It was hugely enjoyable and I am looking forward to 2024.

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