Hidden Lessons of Self Worth

Posted by Lorin DeMuth on March 09, 2022

LorinDeMuthSomewhere on the side of a rural highway in Georgia I unknowingly began my journey to Evoke. At the time, I was co-leading a group of 11 high school students to bike across America along with my co-leader, an ex-professional bike racer who spent his free time doing multi-day, 500-mile bike packing races. Today, he and our support car driver were an hour and a half away at the doctor with one of our campers. Today, I captained solo.

Thirty miles into the 95-mile day and the Georgia sun was already giving most of our campers problems. I stood scouting our route while the rest of the group took a water break. “Alright! Five more minutes and then we hit the road!” I barely believed I had what it took to bike the rest of the way, let alone make sure our campers made it too.


I must confess something to you all. I knew nothing about bikes when I was hired to lead this trip. I remember fumbling when they offered me the job, wondering how to gently remind them that I had no prior bike touring experience. I genuinely thought it was a mistake. Today, I was the leader, the expert, the one who was going to make sure we all made it in one piece.

And we did. We biked 95 miles in 95 degrees with humidity levels that felt like we never dried off from a shower. I cried on the phone to a friend once we made it to our camp for the night. “I feel like I have no idea what I am doing.” She laughed, “It’s not about biking,” she reminded me. “No one hired you because you are good at biking.”

It was true. And somewhere inside of me I knew it was true. I wasn’t hired to be a bike expert--they didn’t need that. I was hired because no matter the situation, I can make it work. I was hired because I excel at bringing people together, at making sticky situations work, and at building communities that hold strong in difficult moments.

Watching students build confidence and self-worth in our wilderness program is one of the most inspiring aspects of my job. When students arrive, most do not know how to clean their cup or make a primitive fire. Our staff and elder students teach basic backcountry skills, how to cook on a camping stove, and all the tips and tricks to staying warm outside. While the new student may think they are just learning new skills, there is a hidden value in what they are doing. Slowly, they become the one to cook dinner for the group, to start fires, the one to coach the new student in staying warm. Over time, skills that felt so foreign become ingrained.

I’m constantly in awe of the beauty in these hidden lessons. No matter a child’s background or prior camping experience, they can learn to live outside and thrive in the natural world. Over time, they begin to find what they are good at, what they have to offer. Over time, it doesn’t matter what they know or don’t know, it matters how they show up to figure it out.

The point is not the hiking, cleaning cups, carrying water to the road, building a shelter, learning to make a fire, or in my case, biking across America. The point is the strength it builds inside of you to confront the deeply held beliefs that you are not enough. What I learned, and what continues to be a hidden lesson in our program, is that you have something. And that tiny something inside of you is the foundation for building your worth, and most importantly, your Self.



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