Dear Boundless Families:
Its glorious up here – the kind of smells, sunsets and hormones that make you remember how exquisite it is to be 16. My phone doesn’t ring – my role is to put our behavioural fires – and I have become a slightly pot-bellied Maytag repairman whom nobody needs. Your kids are just nailing it. Every last one of them.
So I’ll muse instead.
The concept of “Kingmaker” crept into my idle brain today. In gorilla culture, we have all heard of the Silverback, the alpha male of the tribe that leads and protects. But less known is the Kingmaker, the male or female who commands respect across all strata of the primate group, and is the one that anoints and helps maintain the status of the silverback.
Without the Kingmaker, the silverback ain’t got s…t. The equilibrium of the gorilla gang depends on the Kingmaker.
It appears both groups have one (although the term has never been bandied about nor will it be).
The Outdoor Gang:
In this crowd, it’s Aidan. He commands so much affection, that in fact he may also end up being the gentle silverback. But the current silverback seems to be B. – although he doesn’t quite know it yet. The group is gelling, but at an incremental pace. No aha moments of bonding – just a steady diet of kindness and awesome that is doing the trick. Some are coming along quicker than others – but all moving forward in discovering fantastic things about themselves, and in a community that will let them act out the weirdo inside, just like all of us yearn to do.
We believe their camaraderie will crescendo on their river journey that starts Wednesday. The pace has been, at time, frenzied. They are busy preparing for the journey, and defining and upholding standards for themselves. We have one overseas student from China with us. Upon arrival, he just didn’t know what hit him – the curriculum may as well be a moon mission to Johnson. And yet he shrieks with delight at the novelty of it all. And others shriek at his delight – good things are happening in the outdoor tribe.
The English Gang
This group is the more gregarious of the two, with a cast of characters that would fill a novel with richness and diversity. The four gals are the loudest and hold much sway over group process. They are fun, engaged by the learning, and sometimes border on the absurd.
And yet they collectively do not represent the silverback – this distinction probably falls on the S. brothers, who would be dead meat were it not for the tacit endorsement of the gals – clearly devouring the role of Kingmaker.
I am told the english class bought in by day one evening. Samantha (their course director) dealt out three short and sweet stories in quick measure. The kids were dumbstruck that these stories were – how do I say this – so frickin cool. Yesterday they performed “slam poetry” – sort of a rhythmic rap that is rich in metaphor. They went at this task with fervour, taking it dead seriously. And they blew each other away. They took off for a two-day mini-canoe trip this morning, The english crew are still finding themselves as a team, but we believe nothing stands in their way and the camping trip will bring them even closer together.
Given its day 4, those parents out there wondering if their kids are struggling can now take a deep breath – your kids are turning this place into home.
Thanks for sending them to us.
Until next time,