July 23, 2011

Sprog at its Best

     I am not fit to be a leader. I believe I can be a leader, but I am not fit to be a leader. I am always too serious, so nobody likes me. I yell when people do not do what I want. I think I can do everything; I do not need a team. I am missing a certain something that allows teams to work with me.  I believe no one will ever be able to help me, not even the adults I should be looking up to. I always think I am right even when I am wrong. Sierra Student Coalition’s Sprog will not be able to help me. I have been in many successful and failed organizations that I believe make me more experience than many others. Nobody will be able to change these thoughts, right?

       WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Sprog has proven me wrong ten times over at least TEN times during the seven days of training…. okay, I am exaggerating just a hair, but it was a mind-blowing experience. It was like I was pushed into a candy store and allowed to eat all the candy I ever wanted without ever getting sick or fat. I could just spend the rest of my days eating all the candy I wished to have and more…..alright, it was not like that at all, but that would be pretty cool. In actuality, Sprog was like going back in time and being able to do everything all over again, the right way, the way you expected it to be, the way you wanted it to be. (At least, that’s how I felt.)

     The week started off slow and a little dull, but fun. On the night after the first full day, Janina Klimaite, of the Ohio Sierra Student Coalition, shared with us her personal narrative that brought everyone to the edge their seats, begging to hear more of her story. Then, suddenly, like a flash, we found ourselves in a dance party around her car. Forget the cheering and clapping, dancing was how we showed our appreciation to Janina. As the night progressed, this dancing moved into the kitchen with everyone banging pots and pans together trying to make as much noise as we could, to a what we thought was a rhythm. It was surreal that we got to play in a kitchen with almost no restrains, making noise indoors, with the volume cranked all the way up. (Mothers would frown on this night of bonding.)

     From then on, everything happened before we knew it, like the morning sunlight hitting your home, peering through the window, shining on your sleeping face, waking you up gently with its warmth; you were up before you knew it. It’s difficult to believe what all happened, happened. I cannot emphasize enough how quick and memorable the week was. The amount memories I made in the one week of Sprog are equivalent to the amount memories I make in a month. I might be exaggerating because they are so fresh in my mind, but it’s difficult to believe I was at Sprog a week ago from this post.

     The following days we had back to back training, information was crammed in as much as humanly possible to help us use it in a simulation that was integrated throughout the week. It was top class training; I learned stuff that I had to take note for, but the evenings were where the memorable stuff happened because Sprog is more than just training; it is an unbelievable bonding experience.

     On the first evening around a campfire, we were all introduced to” Greenfire”, an experience that I think is difficult to put into words, but if I had to it would go like this: “Greenfire” is a ceremonial experience where stories of when our passion for the things we do started…..DULL! I want you to know Greenfire was much more than just sharing our passions…. Imagine the most intimate moment you can have with a friend, because it was just like that, sorta. Sprog was 38 strangers having a heart-to-heart within just a couple of days of meeting each other, not a one on one with a friend.

     Now imagine the most intimate moment you can have with a friend again, because another evening around the campfire called, “Angry Stick, Happy Rock” was more than that. With “Angry Stick,” everyone’s anger and frustration they found in their own lives was shared, but it was quickly counteracted with “Happy Rock,” where we shared what made us smile, laugh, and everything else we enjoyed. I, personally, found myself laughing my head off like I never said anything about the anger I had toward myself, for hating my parents giving all their attention to my older, bipolar brother; I missed my brother and family dearly after saying that. (Pause if this is too much.) The whole experience of “Angry Stick, Happy Rock” was unexpected. During the beginning I thought my harden soul was going to prevail and I was not going to share anything. I am glad it did not though because I feel a hell of a lot better about everything.

     Missing the opening of the last Harry Potter movie included; it was a decision made by all of us. Instead we got to meet and have dinner with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign Members. We got to meet people who have done some amazing things in their life, things that we aspired to do. John Blair, for instance, who has been actively fighting coal plants in the Midwest for the past 35 years, (not sure on the number), sat down and ate dinner with us. During dinner I did not really get to know his story, but on a later night he shared his Coal Fighting Career. His story was inspirational, and I wish was awake for all of it, but what I heard made me want to learn more about him. At the end he advised us to always carry a camera because we never know when something is gonna happen.

     To bring the week to an end, Sprog had a “No Talent Show,” to show off our lack of talent. In reality, the “No Talent Show” full of life sharing, stick breaking, dancing, meowing, drumbeating, center of the universe moment capturing fun. Was that too much to put in one sentence?? The “No Talent” show was a night to enjoy and it’s so fresh in my mind that it is difficult for me to share with you what happened because, from the one sentence, a lot happened.

     The following day was the day of departure and many of us lingered on for as long as we could, saying goodbye to each other several time, hugging left and right, not wanting to leave. It was only until we could not say goodbye anymore because we knew we would see each other again that we left.

     All I could on my 4 hour long drive home do was reflect on the week and wish to give each Sprogger one last hug as well as giving my brother the biggest hug one could imagine. (Yes, I called Sprog attendees Sproggers.) I felt strange on the road because I was in-between home and great friends. I loved Sprog, but I really, really wanted to go home.

     Now that I am home, I keep thinking about Sprog and when the next time I will see all the Sproggers again. Sprog was a life changing experience for me. It is what I keep telling people now that I am back in reality; I tell them I had my life changed. I have returned with as a new person and I have reinforced knowledge of how to organize groups. I still find it difficult to believe my life was changed because Sprog gave me what I was looking for, something I have been looking for, for the past year and a half.  You might ask what Sprog gave me, but I do not really know what it gave me. I can say this though, the opening paragraph I wrote does not match how I feel now at all. I reflect back on my experiences and think about what I could have done in the organizations I have been in with the new information I learned from Sprog. I am excited to start campaigns in any moment because I now have the training and the experience.   I highly recommend attending Sprog if you are looking for Organizing Training. Sprog is something you have to experience for yourself. (They have it every summer, it’s not call (S)ummer (prog)am for nothing,)



Shuck Yes! Midwest!

Kevin Chau


Mad sprog love to you, Kevin. Great guy and great post.