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All Expeditions Have These 3 Phases - Growth Phase

After so much hard work, reaching the end of an expedition can feel AMAZING. You've invested so much time and energy during the Preparatory and Expeditionary phases, now it's time to celebrate and reap the benefits of your labor. No more skiing, no more moving camp, no more melting snow! Hell yeah!!


A ski team stands at the South Pole
Reaching the South Pole means an end to skiing and the start of a celebration. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

During this phase of the expedition you may have a myriad of emotions that range from elation, to exhaustion. You may feel happy and sad at the same time. Maybe the expedition was everything you hoped for and more. Maybe it was different than you expected. We call this phase of the expedition the Growth Phase and it is a really important time. As you reflect on your experiences there is huge potential for personal discovery. As the author Kahlil Gibran writes, "When you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb." At first there is a flurry of activity: getting picked up, first shower, final night with the group, travel home, reuniting with family, the first meal at your favorite restaurant... all the things you dreamed about over and over again! Don't be surprised if, amidst these good feelings, there is also an empty feeling. Maybe it's because everything is so easy. You may miss not having to work for every pleasure. You may miss all the inside jokes and rituals from the expedition.


A group of skiers on South Georgia Island, Shackleton Crossing
Last group shot before the end of the Shackleton Crossing, next stop showers! South Georgia Island.

Even though it might feel like you've had to leave so much behind (the gear, the group, the surroundings) all the really important stuff you get to take home. Author and cartographer Morgan Hite writes about this in his excellent essay "Briefing For Entry Into A More Harsh Environment." You can (and should) read the full essay here. In brief he very accurately describes what's really been taking place on an expedition: You've been organized. You've been thorough and prepared. You took care of yourself and others and all the items that were important to you. You stayed in touch with the basics. You took risks. You entrusted other people with your life. You learned new skills and persevered at difficult things. You let go of so much and you lived simply. Morgan observes, "These are the skills you've really learned out there, and they will serve you in good stead in any environment in the world. They are habits to live by."


Two skiers cross a lead near the North Pole
Taking care of yourself and others and all the items that are important to you. 85º North, Polar Sea

The Growth Phase is a great time to re-visit the "Big Picture Benefits" of your experience. Very few people will ever visit, not to mention live intimately with, the amazing place you just came from. Can your experience and story positively influence others? Is there a way you can honor the place or help protect it? There's tremendous power in storytelling and significant potential to inspire change. Whether it's teaching grade school students about why the polar regions are so amazingly cool and important, or encouraging adults to keep taking risks; whether it's talking with a friend about reconnecting with the outdoors or sharing the Expedition Mindset with a professional organization, your quiver of experiences is full. Think of yourself as the archer from which these experiences can be sent forth as arrows to make the world a better place. But don't feel rushed; allow some time to discover what the experience means to you. Of course this will evolve over time. It's remarkable how your experience will mean different things to you at different times in your life.


A skier stands on a pressure ridge and looks across the pack ice of the Polar Sea.
"When you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb."- Kahlil Gibran. Polar Sea, last degree.

Ultimately what you have accomplished is remarkable and yet it's possible, even likely, that some of the greatest benefits are still yet to come if you are open to looking for them. Do you occasionally find new meaning from old adventures? Are there ways you like to honor your experiences? We'd love to hear from you! And if you've already been on one of our expeditions and want to start sharing your story let us know. We have ready-to-give presentations about our several of our destinations complete with slides and narration notes that you can personalize with additional photos and stories of your own. Contact us for more details!