Dear Boundless Families:
Please forgive the attention I am placing on Tony’s group. I was just with them on the Dumoine River for a day and a half so have some inside scoops.
I paddle up to their campsite and was befuddled.
I see a bunch of teens and their doting and demanding teachers prepping for dinner. I feel like I am in Grammy’s home, where every molecule of matter is perfectly placed and ordered. If there were sofas on the site, they would have been covered in plastic. Day 5 of a wilderness journey can be pretty scuzzy at the best of times. To see this group so precise, so immaculate, so going about their business after an exhausting day in 34 degree weather – I was flabbergasted.
Credit (or fault) Tony and his illustrious crew of mafiosa teacher/bodyguards for this almost military-like mastery of the little things.
But things are also pretty chill. Brian was playing chess with David – having to use some stones and tiny acorns to replace the inevitable lost pieces. He has 4 pawns in a square configuration. Being tactless, and smelling trouble to come for him, I comment that his pawn set-up resembles a Roman Phalanx.
“That’s an warrior term”, I emphasize, trying to sound cool.
“You mean flanks, like going to the side?” he asks quizzically
“No, P.H.A.L.A.N.X. It’s what made the Roman such badasses. It made them impenetrable”
Feeling emboldened, he was soon massacred by his opponent. He looked astounded.
“That’s the problem with a Phalanx. The barbarians figured out that speed and mobility crack the formation”
Feeling somewhat bamboozled, he grins in a ahh-shucks moment.
Than i bellow, “I want to gossip with the gals!”
Two of the three seem intrigued (the other passed out from a long day and happily for her not on the roster for duty).
“What about?” they inquire, curious what a feeble 53 year-old could possibly want to know.
“Girl drama”, I deadpan.
They giggle. We proceed to talk about relationships, what they see and think of so and so. All this, in the presence of a bunch a guys who couldn’t give a fig about the conversation – although a few ears did perk up – perhaps a glimpse into the mysterious world of girl stuff.
To stir the hornet’s nest, I ask Hailey what she thinks of Ben, a young lad with a sweet smile, standing right beside me, who can be a tad self-focussed at times.
“With the adeptness of Meryl Streep, she goes into a song and dance – lovingly mocking Ben.
“You mean that guy (pointing to him), the kid with the goodness deep down inside? He’s a pain in the ass, but we love him”. Ben beams. He knows he has a bit of baggage in his world – so this moment is like manna from heaven.
All of this is to say that the group had this feeling of family about them. Things are easily laid bare.
And to watch them work on the river was to see beauty in motion and a bunch of kids going about their business like professionals. If one believes we all have a trace of Penny Oleksiak inside us, this journey has awakened serious potential in all.
Pretty much every student on this property – all concluding their river or essay journeys in one piece, arehaving a similar narrative playing out.
You will hear amazing stories upon their return – just one day away. Wish I was a fly on the wall.
Thanks for sending your kids to us. Its been a wonderful session.