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Large hiking crew

From the Bronx to the Backcountry

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Written by Dan Musick, DOF Board Member and director of Forestcraft Camp

With a large smile, mohawked cropped hair and quiet sense of confidence, Daejean Heholt came to us from the Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artist where he attended the Discover Outdoors Afterschool Club. He was one of two students selected to receive a scholarship towards full camp tuition at Forestcraft Camp located in Adirondack State Park.

The moment that stands out as a testament to the character of Daejean occurred on day three of a five day backpack trip the first week of camp. A decision was put forth to the group - cut off about 15 miles of trail in leu of a rest day, or continue on the trail to complete the full 50 mile Cranberry Lake 50 challenge. The group was at a crossroads, some were weary and sore, looking for a chance to rest and cut some miles, while others were up for a challenge. It was Daejean’s voice that rang the strongest:

“I came here to experience every challenge, and climb each mountain. I’m not here to rest.”

At that, he joined the group set out to complete the entire 50 mile loop.

This simple statement was echoed several more times the next week in the Dix range and the week after during the Saranac 6 challenge. No matter what challenge was put forth, Daejean was ready to meet it.

I had the pleasure of hiking many of those miles with Daejean, and it was there that I learned of his incredible rhyming skills. Daejean thinks about the world around him in word imagery, processing experiences through rhymes, and I was treated to several of his pieces. His huge smile and kind presence underscore a young man with incredible heart.

Within the group, Deajean provided a strong foundation; when others struggled to find the strength to push on, Deajean was there to provide encouragement through example. The trail became a great place for Deajean to talk about the pressures of school, and living in an environment with a dangerous call to the streets; yet he faces those pressures with the same attitude he faced the trail. 

Daejean is working hard towards high school graduation and beyond, and will undoubtedly continue to lead by example. 

To support the Discover Outdoors Foundation and give more NYC students access to life-changing outdoor adventure, go here!

Categories: People