With a certain sense of inevitably there is a point that arrives every year as surely as the seasons change and yet I am always surprised just how quickly it comes around. That time is now. A simple change of digits on the whiteboards - this year from 2010/11 to 2011/12 - and suddenly names in columns are replaced and the 'face' of the team undergoes a transformation.
Though these whiteboards reveal a familiar continuity, a pattern of regular bookings and training dates, every year is very different from the one that went before and every moment within that year will be a product of the personalities that have donated their time, energy, strength and spirit to shaping it. To have spent a year on the DisTIL team means more than fulfilling a job role. It's to have shared your very living being with complete strangers - eating, sleeping, training, socialising and invading all kinds of personal space. Treading, paddling, riding and driving peaks and valleys together literally and metaphorically, with a mountain of kit and a sizeable trailer in tow.
Having been jointly part of something so intense that spans a year it is notable when it concludes. More often than not, when in the thick of it, you are too busy to grasp a sense of the bigger picture. It's only stopping and taking a step back that gives you that perspective and, when the fullstop comes, whatever has happened before there is a guaranteed mixture of thoughts, a jumble of feelings and, though it is a shared experience, everyone views it in a way individual to them.
In my position as DisTIL coordinator here at Adventure Plus I have had the privilege of working with 31 such individuals. 31 different combinations of strengths and weaknesses. 31 differing world-views. 31 sets of philosophies, theologies and opinions on everything from the comic to the cosmic. And it's all about to kick off for another year...but what of this year's team?
That is a very good question. One that we will see answered over the coming weeks, months and years. Because, just as every one of those 31 has come to us as an individual and lived with us as an individual, so will they continue being uniquely and wonderfully individual.
What I will say is thank you. Simon, Sarah, Rob, Ruth, Rachel and James. Thank you for a great year.