“So there I was”; a sit-down with Dylan Robinson

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That header image says it all, and if it doesn’t, Dylan’s version of introducing himself when I recorded this interview does. “So there I was, I left her under the bridge”.
Meet Dylan (pronounced Die-laan around camp) Robinson. Dylan’s a bit of a character, but has a genuine passion for doing things to the fullest of his abilities. Sometimes those things are a bit odd. When asked to carve an “aroostick”, which is basically a simple hook for moving hot objects around or off the fire, Dylan turned his into a small Neolithic-esque effigy (seen in his hand above.) This would seem to be his modus operandi for any task given to him. Do it, and do it as completely as he can, even if that means doing it in his own particular fashion.
Dylan has moved around a lot in his life, and seems to have an anecdote about each place mentioned. The only one he didn’t like is Ohio. That’s actually a bit of an understatement. Dylan really hates Ohio. I’d have to do a separate article to explain how much he hates Ohio.

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(Dylan practicing canoe lifts with some help.)

After serving in the army infantry, Dylan  found Jack Mountain through a friend while working at a zipline. After doing as much research and pestering Tim and Paul about every detail he could, attended the winter course earlier this year.  He clearly enjoyed it otherwise I wouldn’t be interviewing him here. He explains that the only qualm he has about the spring course is that, as someone who’s already done the winter course ( which is essentially a literal trial by fire. Not in the sense of getting burned, but in learning to make a fire efficiently, and under the pressure of temperatures that are occasionally below freezing. “That’s not to say you WON’T get burned when you roll over towards the fire in your sleep” he says.) The first week of everyone catching up is “kind of a drag”. He goes on to say that “I do recommend that people do come to the winter course first. It makes things a whole lot easier “.
His impression of the course now that we’re a few weeks in? Much better. Now that we’re in the swing of things, and past the “get to know each other “ phase, he’s having opportuniies to do new things. “the canoeing’s great, now that we’re actually out on the water “ he says, before explaining that he’s enjoying himself much more now that we’re done with all the little things that come along with a big group of strangers living basically on top of each other twenty four seven.

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When asked about any difficulty he’s had, he immediately responds by explaining that he wasn’t expecting as much academic work. We have a bunch of different log books we have to upkeep daily, plant species to press samples of and research, as well as studying the stars and how to navigate by them. “its definitely been difficult, I haven’t been in school since 2006, so I’ve been getting back into the swing of it.” It’s something to think about for anyone considering a course at Jack Mountain, or any course like it that’s worth its salt. It’s not just a camping trip, it’s a full on immersion experience. That includes learning as much as you can about everything around you in the natural world, and being able to implement it in your every day life. Especially if you’re planning on working as a guide.
On that note though, Dylan has jumped into this industry with both feet. (What’d I tell you, whatever he does, he does wholeheartedly) after this course he’ll be taking the canoe course with Jack Mountain, and rather than go back to Wisconsin for the month in between he and some of the other students will be camping in the North Maine woods. He’s also planning on working as a guide and camp hand with an organization in Montana that oversees long hunting trips using pack mules.
He’d also like to keep trying out other schools around the country. Working on the realm of outdoor education or guiding seems to encourage that. Which is a refreshing thing to me. So often people go to school, get a diploma and never even consider going back. It’s simply a prerequisite to the next “step” in life, rather than an opportunity to improve your understanding of a subject, or the world around you. Time and money can be a big factor of course, but as Dylan so aptly puts it while explaining that this course and a few others he’s looking into are covered by the GI Bill, “why wouldn’t I just go camping for free?”. So to anyone who’s a former member of the military, and looking to get into something like this, the GI Bill covers certain courses, and will at the very least get you started.
He also really recomends taking Tim and Paul up on the “call if you have questions” statement. He says it was hugely helpful while he was looking for gear, making sure this was the right place for him, etc. On that note, I spoke to Paul, and while he agrees that you should call with questions, he jokes that no one should call as much as Dylan did. That however is just another testament to Dylan’s attention to detail in my opinion. If you need a spare tool, or something that wasn’t on the gear list but may be helpful, Dylan’s probably got it somewhere around camp. I’m tempted to make an “alway be prepared” boyscout joke, but I’ve a feeling Dylan’s effigy wouldn’t approve.

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All in all it seems Dylan taken a shine to this world pretty quickly, and I can’t say I blame him. It’s been an incredible experience, and it’s amazing to me how many different paths are options for people who enjoy this industry.
As always, if anyone has any questions, or comments don’t hesitate to shoot me an email, or just comment below.

But now you’ll have to excuse me, Dylan’s talking to his aroostick effigy under his breath again, and pointing in my direction.

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