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Appleseed: From Coast to Coast

 

Earlier this month I was asked to write about my experience traveling (literally) from coast to coast teaching at Project Appleseed events in one year. Though this is mostly about my time back east, I also taught at several events in Washington and Idaho. Thanks go to Gwen for proofreading this!

                                                                                      
 
Appleseed: From Coast to Coast
By Western Rose (age: 19)
Volunteer RWVA Instructor and Administrator
 
 

During the summer of 2011, I was given an adventure like none other—traveling from one side of the United States to the other, teaching fundamental rifle marksmanship and the role it has played in our heritage as a nation.

This story really begins in 2006 when I was 13 and my dad asked me if I wanted to go to a Project Appleseed event. I said yes, and since then, I have gone to 50 of the thousands of Project Appleseed events, either as a junior shooter or (more often) as a junior instructor. I have never looked back.

It was in early 2011 that my cross-country adventure really kicked off. I was invited by the Richardsons, an Appleseed family, to come spend seven weeks with them in the summer. Julia James, a woman who has become one of my adopted “Appleseed Mom,” was going to take us Junior Instructors all over the eastern side of the country.

During my time back east, we planned to teach at six Project Appleseed events in the midwest and northeast. We taught in Ohio, Maryland, New York, Michigan, and Indiana, and visited West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. I had the honor and privilege of working with and/or meeting 90 other Project Appleseed instructors.

Most of what I observed during the Appleseed weekends back east is the same as what you find out west. The events were pretty much the same: instructors working as a team; people learning marksmanship, patience, determination, focus, persistence, attention to detail, and, most importantly, safety; families enjoying the weekend and learning about their heritage together.

At the same time, several things were quite different, maybe not for others, but definitely for me. I was in a totally different part of the US than I had ever been before. I was with people I didn’t know well. Basically, I was completely out of my comfort zone. I tend to be quiet. I like to watch, listen, and learn more than talk. For me to step out of that shell has always been profoundly difficult. Public speaking is a challenge, and it was even more of a challenge back east—mostly because I was surrounded by a bunch of folks I’d just met who were wondering “how it’s done out west,” and I was the one who had to tell them. But don’t get me wrong. Everyone  made me feel super welcome and I enjoyed working with them very much. I learned that even though I wasn’t in my comfort zone, I could still have a really fun time. I discovered that I don’t have to know folks for a long time before I can call them my friends. I came to feel at home and accepted.

Some of my favorite memories from my coast-to-coast Appleseed experience are of meeting the instructors whom I had only worked with online; of watching hard-earned hats go to my good friends; listening to the story of our heritage told by someone new; of visiting with a child who needed to take a hydration break; of seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter from attendees and instructors alike throughout the weekend; of watching an 18-year-old amputee instructor teaching her friend, also an amputee, how to shoot; of shooting a cricket and being told that I finally found a rifle “your size!”; of the stories shared during the long hours of travel; of a professional photographer handing me his camera and telling me to use it.

Then there were the historical sites. We toured Boston, Lexington, Concord, and Acton. There are no words to describe how I felt or what went through my head as I viewed the history that was all around me. But I can say that had I never been to an Appleseed and taught my heritage to others first, these monuments, graves, and battlefields would have held little meaning for me.

The entire trip was a fantastic experience. I am thankful for all that both instructors and attendees have taught me, for the ways they have encouraged and inspired me, and how much they have helped me grow as a junior instructor and a person. The trail has been hard, but full of fun and joy. I cannot wait to see where it takes me next! I have the incredible opportunity to pass on what I have learned from them to others, and there is nothing else like it in the world.

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  1. March 29, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Sounds like a great adventure!

  2. March 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Rounds and Roses and commented:
    Read about the adventures Western Rose experienced as she got to instruct at Appleseed events across the country.

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