Wind: 3 mph
I am a past employee of the True North Wilderness Program (TNWP) working as a lead field guide before leaving on very good terms. My family is also a current abutting neighbor with the TNWP campus. I am writing this letter in support of True North with the hope that it will reflect both an internal and external perspective of the TNWP.
Beyond developing lasting personal friendships and gaining a great amount of field experience as a wilderness guide, the overall professionalism of the staff and work environment at True North is that of respect and diligence. The Valley needs responsible business leaders in our neighborhood as a way to cultivate good economy, as well as create jobs to draw younger professionals to our area. TNWP promotes both, developing business for local retailers, hotels, B&Bs, and restaurants by providing their clients and their families with local recommendations, while also promoting jobs for recent college graduates to work as field guides, program leaders, etc. While the numbers can be specific, one of the most important factors is that the company is responsible to their community and to their employees.
As a neighbor, given our location and proximity to the Dana Hill campus, we are likely the most affected by the True North operations. We share the same driveway and see each other’s vehicles around once a day. In the five years that True North has been operating, not once did we feel taken advantage of, have always been greeted with respect, and ultimately have always felt safe with their staff and their students. I have heard some contention regarding the ability of their students to maintain a safe environment and must reiterate that never has there ever been an issue regarding safety for myself or my family. The children that are attending the program are screened based upon their character and are being sent to True North based upon their own will. This is far from juvenile detention, and frankly, I'd be more afraid of drunken or rash behavior from ski tourists than from any of the kids I've met or mentored.
I'm excited to see that True North wants to expand its operations, increase their working environment for the benefit of their students, and ultimately be a responsible business for the community by having ample space to run their programs in an environmentally safe manner. As a guide, it was a pleasure to camp in the woods with kids who are looking for answers, listening to birds in the morning, owls at night, and following the tracks during the day. As a neighbor and avid environmentalist, we are thrilled to be able to walk in our shared forests and see the signs of nature, appearing to be unfettered due to TNWP’s "Leave No Trace" policy.
We must remember that there is no better classroom than nature, where every distraction is a learning opportunity.
Nicholas Laskovski lives in Waitsfield.