Dear Boundless Families:
Everyone arrived safely and the game is afoot. All of us sense that the Summer is spiralling into the vortex of Autumn mighty fast. Staff and students are clinging to the last crumbs of summer – so there is an exquisite feeling about the place – the last hurrah before the real world creeps back in just two weeks.
Before I make some introductions, I want to give context to the unusual configuration of cohorts here.
Our english program has sparked a tsunami of interest. We initially planned for 15 students this last session. That ballooned to 30. And then events conspired to make it top out at 35. This, out of a total 56 student capacity.
So its fair to say that english is cannibalizing the outdoor program just like the IPHONE to the IPOD. There are reasons for this which shall become plain to the reader in due course.
We have four cohorts. We hired an extra english teacher to cope with the literary influx.
One english cohort has 20 kids (with two teachers and 6 support staff), led by Mackenzie (female) A.K.A. “Macky”
The other english group has 15, taught by Samantha, AKA Sam or Sammy.
Sammy and Macky are cut from a cloth of kindness that is extraordinary. Teens, like the rest of us, place great weight on first impressions. And these two inspire this deep sigh of relief response in those first moments, something like, “Phew, my teacher is warm and sweet, and she’s gonna cut me some slack when I need it”.
Indeed, their warm dispositions would suggest that two deer are leading a pack of wolves. Will they be devoured? Perhaps they might be like the teachers of our youth who were so innocent inside that their purity invited you to walk all over them.
Um, that would be a wrong impression. While infinitely patient, these two fawns will indeed fawn over kids to help them learn – but if you underperform, they will be like deer flies on a muggy day, and sting you to dig deeper.
Their creativity in designing curriculum knows no bounds. Macky, for example, designed an intro game where kids draw tattoos on each other in order to introduce the concept of symbology. I approach one whose has an owl sketched on his forearm, and I inquire,
“What’s that bird about? Why is one eye closed?”
“Its actually more about one eye being open, which symbolizes awareness, always on the lookout. The owl itself is about wisdom. That’s me.”
The big dividend to this simple icebreaker is that kids are huddling together, mimicking an act of preening. They touch each other, bonding over a simple ink pen. They are garnering a deeper impression that lies beneath a carefully constructed day-one mask. These masks can’t sustain themselves under the crushing weight of goodwill that is happening.
Everyone is english is buying in. A few dread the volume of work to come. That’s a good thing. Their impressions are honest and realistic.
BOLD, the advanced outdoor cohort, has 9 males led by Ashely Stranger who moonlights as our Risk Manager when she’s not taking young men into the deep wilderness for days on end. Bold is beautiful and ambitious. Comprised of returning students, with one exception, they took off upon arrival and I haven’t seen them since. They plan to pack survival training, river rescue and canoe tripping certification into 12 squished days. Stranger wants climbing too, so they will rappel off 100 foot cliffs, and feel like mavericks in the process because we just don’t do much climbing in the summer (reserved for boarding school kids).
The other outdoor group – 12 males – also took off. They jumped into the rapids to escape the humidity today, and in doing so, started their river training early. Led by Lauren (AKA Lo Lo), she ran up to me enthusiastically and pronounced with a degree of awe, “These kids are already on day 6 efficiency in doing chores.”
“Any outliers?” I inquire.
“Nope. All pretty good. But its early”.
No trip leader worth their salt will claim that the cohort is in hand this early. But there does seem to be a tail-wind-a-blowin. And that feels nice in this muggy moment. Its been a lovely day one.
If you don’t hear from me in the next few days, chances are your child has found balance here. So no news is good news.
Here’s to the phone not ringing. Cheers.