Over the years, I have many times gotten to be one of the first faces a student sees when entering the program. Recently, we had a student arrive late in the night. She had a large pack on her back and some hiking boots caked in mud on her feet. The smell of campfire smoke was still lingering on her from her wilderness program.  Her emotions appeared to range from nervous and sad to excited and proud. She introduced herself and asked if she could take a shower.  She had been with her wilderness group for close to two months and was proud of her accomplishments. But she understood there was more work to do.
A week or so later, another student arrived, this time with her parents. She had more trepidation and seemed to have a little less of an idea of what to expect. Another student introduced herself, then helped put away her belongings.  The new girl asked this peer about the daily schedule and what they would be doing. She expressed some relief, as she had some preconceived ideas built up in her head. She became sad when she hugged her goodbyes to her parents. She preferred to return home but understood she needed help.
As the parents leave, I often think how much harder that goodbye must be for them. Worry, sadness, guilt, and even relief are often expressed. Trust is something that is often reserved, especially when it comes to a loved one. Yesterday, I had both of these students raise their hands to give me feedback in one of our mutual aid groups. They both thanked me for being one of the first people they met here and for helping them feel comfortable.  I thought to myself how grateful I was for being able to make that transition maybe just a little bit better.