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AL SPROG ’10: The Best Week EVER

Posted by kevinwolz on August 4, 2010

Wow. Did that really just happen? Can a blind decision really turn into a life-changing one? It may now seem like a dream, but SPROG definitely happened, and man was it amazing! A few posts back, I mentioned my spontaneous decision to attend the Sierra Student Coalition Environmental Leadership Training Program (SPROG) in Alabama. I was hesitant at first, but as soon as I showed up, I knew it was going to be great.

45 new best friends

I would sum up the main purpose of SPROG as teaching youth to become *badass environmental activists and organizers*. Each day consisted of two or three “trainings” on topics such as campaign planning, group organization, telling your pubic narrative, meeting facilitation, media relations, and dealing with politicians. Again, everything you need to know to become a badass activist and organizer. I’ve been into the whole environmental thing for several years, and I’ve always been pretty “active,” but I usually just tend to do things alone in my own way. These trainings really made me realize that I need to both enlist the help of my fellow youth as well as engage the support of established organizations. I can’t do this alone. We can only save the world together.

Learning how to organize a campaign...and protest.

Interspersed between trainings were fun activities like swimming, canoeing, frisbee, nature walks, and, of course, scrumptious meals. My favorite activity was clearly the nature walk. Upon leaving Illinois, the habitat and plants quickly became less and less familiar. Honestly, I became quite distraught when I stopped seeing the northern oaks that are so near to my heart. It may seem weird, but it’s really pretty simple: familiarity with your surroundings creates a sense of security, and vice versa. I had never been to Alabama before last week, let alone explored its ecosystems, so some new emotions definitely came into play before I even showed up at camp. Luckily, however, a few of my fellow SPROGers were from the region and much more familiar with the native flora. Hence our nature walks. There are way to many things that I saw and learned to write here, but I will say that Alabama DOES have oak trees…30+ species in fact! Security! As we explored, I collected leaves of every oak I found. Once I got back home to my books, I identified each species to the best of my ability (and without anything but leaves). Species likely include: Blackjack Oak, Southern Red Oak, Turkey Oak, Overcup Oak, Water Oak, and Willow Oak…all new encounters for me.

The Turkey and Willow Oaks should at least be obvious...

A huge part of the week that really cannot be put into words is the intense bonding that took place between everyone present. I’ve never been to band camp or summer camp before, so being in close proximity with 45 people for a week straight was definitely a new experience. It’s truly amazing how close a group can get in just a week! I will never forget ANYONE from SPROG, and I can’t wait to reunite down the line.

Lots of awesome bonding time...

After just one week, I know that I’m a better activist, organizer, friend, and person. I’ve gained inspiration, strengthened my skills, and expanded my horizons. I can’t wait to see where this takes me. For now, I have about 3 weeks of stuff to do and only two weeks to do it before I head back to campus. I’m hoping the momentum and energy from SPROG can work this out.

Goodbyes sucked...REALLY sucked.


8 Responses to “AL SPROG ’10: The Best Week EVER”

  1. Alex said

    Weird question, but how do they get SPROG out of “Sierra Student Coalition Environmental Leadership Training Program”? This camp sounds awesome, and you definitely need to go into more detail the next time we meet up, though I think I already told you that.

  2. Joan said

    I wondered the same thing that Alex said about SPROG!
    Sounds like you had a marvelous awe-inspiring week. Looking forward to more details.
    New plants….did you see any kudzu along the way? DON’T bring any back with you! It is the most invasive plant ever.

  3. Adelaide said

    Kevin! THIS is why I busted my ass so hard to have Alabama Sprog! This blog entry reminds me why I do what I do, and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of last week!
    I am on your side, and am SO happy to help with anything you need from now on. Don’t be a stranger! Give me a ring if you have questions, need a friend, or just need to rant!

  4. Ellen said

    Kevin, it is wonderful to see you seize these opportunities. Well done. Thank you, too! You will make a difference.

    Ellen Klaus

  5. Mallory said

    You could not take the words out of my mouth any better! And about the whole reunion thing… Power Shift? I think so.

  6. Victoria Johnson said

    I know a lot of your friends at UI are going to be envious of the great experiences you have had all summer,from your gardens,down to the special time spent at SPROG. You’ll carry those priceless memories forever!!

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