From Summer Adventure to Calling: How SCA Helped Me Find My Vocation

by Tony Gurzick

Do you have a vocation? Not just a job you have or a role you play in your life but a true calling?

I count myself blessed as I found my vocation, in part, through the SCA and have been able to pursue it as a career for over 30 years. 

In August of 1985, the summer between my 10th and 11th grade year, I was part of an SCA high school trail crew. We built a trail between Embryo Lake and St. Andrews Tarn in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. We lived in tents at 10,300 feet for the month and every 3-4 days, a ranger with a pack string would bring us food and check our work. It was an amazing experience.

On a day off, I decided to do a little fishing while most of the other kids went for a hike. I had just tossed my fly into the stream when suddenly a park ranger materialized seemingly out of nowhere next to me. He asked to see my fishing license and any fish that I caught. After handing my license back to me, we spent the next half an hour talking about wildlife biology, elk management, fish restoration, and the habitat issues facing Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a great — and life changing — conversation.

He finally said goodbye and started to walk away. As he left, I reached for the end of my fishing line to make sure it wasn’t tangled. I looked back towards the ranger and he was gone. It was like he was some sort of oracle and it was at that moment I knew I was being called to be a wildlife manager. I had found my vocation.

I went on to earn a degree from Colorado State University in wildlife biology.  I am a certified wildlife biologist and recently celebrated my 28th anniversary working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Perhaps one of the most difficult discoveries to make about ourselves is discovering and living out our vocation. But, what is a vocation?

Author and priest Thomas Merton wrote, “[Vocation] comes from a voice - in here - calling me to be the person I was born to be…”

Since a vocation is a calling, you find it by listening. Listen to yourself and to those around you whom you trust. For me, not only did I listen to that park ranger and my SCA crew leaders, but also to my family, friends, and teachers.

So what? Why should you care about a vocation? You may have a great job and a great and rewarding career. Isn’t that enough?

No. Those of us lucky enough to live out their vocations live happier and healthier lives. It’s through this self-actualization that we are truly fulfilled. We are more successful in our endeavors. We start and end each day with a sense of purpose and direction.

And, perhaps most importantly, the world around becomes more vibrant and the people around us also live better lives. Just as I was able to do after an afternoon spent talking with a park ranger during my summer with the SCA.