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 Trek: The Teams

Team: North
Charlie Thorpe
Charlie discovers that the National Geographic tent makes a convenient outdoor office

Charlie discovers that the National Geographic tent makes a convenient outdoor office

Team Leader. Semi-retired from systems engineering in the aerospace and DoD worlds. Very active with hi-adventure and Venturing (older coed youth) programs in the Boy Scouts of America. Leave No Trace Master Educator and distance hiker who lives in beautiful north Alabama when not on the long trails.

****2004 UPDATE****

Charlie Thorpe, Team Leader of the North Team and a semi-retired aerospace engineer, said he has been affected little by the American Frontiers’ experience although he did value highly the opportunities to meet many interesting and dedicated “agency folks” who manage public lands. “I had already set up this period in my life to be a time when I can ‘pay a little civic rent’ in whatever manner I find most productive and enjoyable. Scouting and the national Leave No Trace program have given me plenty of ‘Journey-like’ projects to scratch my reoccurring adventure and ‘let’s get together to meet this challenge’ itches.”

In addition to meeting the federal agency personnel, Thorpe said he “also really enjoyed the many opportunities to meet and be briefed by so many other significant users/abusers of public lands. I particularly enjoyed the perspective that we got from the non-federal officials from the nearby towns and counties. It would have taken me years to get this MUCH wider perspective on public lands on my own…and I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much!”

But did his experience change his perspective of public lands? “Yes and no,” he said. “I have been using, loving, and helping maintain our public lands for decades. I have ‘always’ been vaguely aware of the huge resource (and responsibility) that we common citizens share in our public lands. The Journey did help me quantify that vagueness a little better (we really do have a LOT of public lands), but there were no big surprises for me. I did get to see some new backcountry and, as it does every time I go out, it just kept getting better and better.

“The Journey did let me get to see our public lands from some perspectives that I hadn’t had a chance to consider before. It was interesting meeting some of the high-impact commercial and recreational users that I would have likely considered snubbing (or shooting) before – I needed to know at the gut level that they really did put their pants on almost like me and raised nice families and cared about their jobs and went to church and all that other good stuff.”

While the Journey was interesting, fun, and useful to specific populations within the American Frontiers’ community such as the National Geographic geography teachers, GIS technicians, etc., Thorpe voiced strong doubts that American Frontiers achieved its goals. “I never saw us making a significant dent in the overall public perception of our public lands…but, I still have the nagging feeling that we came really close, but we missed the golden ring.”

From a leader’s standpoint, Thorpe’s had initial frustrations with the way the event was organized. However, his frustrations were allayed when he realized that “there were fairly good reasons why things came together the way they did. I learned to live with the fact that, while I would have done a number of things quite differently, some nice and very responsible folks had moved mountains while plenty of alligators were nipping at their back pockets. Next time…next time….”

       Journal Entries ...

Recent Journal Entries
Thursday, August 1
Charlie Thorpe
Team: North
Backpacking through Glacier National Park
This morning we met the Canadian and American superintendent ...
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Wednesday, July 31
Charlie Thorpe
Team: North
Kicking off the Trek in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Our first 3 days were awesome. We have so much to tell you. ...
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