Dear Boundless Families:
I have always understood the biblical reference to rainbows as a metaphor for troubles being over and better things to come. Now I’m praying for its literal definition. We have an exquisite one right now, but the forecast calls for two more straight days of the wet stuff. Really, I’ve have enough of this precipitous nonsense.
Your kids couldn’t give a darn.
About one hour after I sent you my day one update, I received the following text, verbatim, from Ashley Strange, the outdoor trip leader (Strange is really her last name and folks around here call her Stranger):
“Our group is young and delightful and Olympic swimmers. We shall stick with the Dumoine plan”.
This is a loaded statement – let me decipher it for you.
First, it’s a trip leader telling the old man that things are surprisingly good. No trip leader worth her salt is going to declare that the group is on auto-drive – meaning it has reached an endurable state of cohesion on the first day. It’s way too early. Yet Stranger did just that.
So when Stranger, who is stingy with compliments in the best of times, declares early on that the group is “delightful” , what she is really saying is that the outdoor crew is gold – no outsiders, full buy-in, early trip jitters gone and the virtue of kindness has embedded itself into group process.
This state of being has just grown over the last 3 days.
Now about the Dumoine River in Quebec, Stranger’s hoped for destination. It is at historically high water levels. Last session it was downright scary – our program had to re-learn how to descend it safely. Many of the 58 rapids have simply joined together. So one canoe dump in the wrong place could mean a 2km swim. I’m not kidding.
We were successful. But we came back last session with dire warnings about doing it again. Simply put, it is not suitable for every group.
Yet Stranger has declared she feels good about your kids and that river. So be it. They leave Tuesday morning for 5 nights. They just returned from two night training expedition on the Madawaska. They will be ready.
The English crew is hard at work. They camped overnight on our property just to get a break from the books. Indeed there was sun yesterday – so they made hay during its rare appearance. I was told that the group is a tad cliquey. Its not about exclusivity, it just that pairs and trios and quartets are gravitating towards each other.
So get this. During a campfire de-brief last night, a student named Vivek summoned his candour and asserted he would have none of these cliques. Conjuring his charm and eloquence, he said he wants to hang with everyone – so lets do away from the social micro-pods (my word). The group bought in quickly.
They need constant breaks. Sam (their course director) is throwing a demanding short story blitz at them with odd titles like A DEATH; THE LOTTERY; PIG; TOTALLED; GIFT OF A USELESS MAN. Tomorrow they are doing “Slam Poetry”.
I often encounter them during their recess and their gaiety is infectious. Connor, about to jump off a 40 foot platform (with harness of course), sees my uncovered dad head and screams,
“What are you doing over here Baldy”.
This is an interesting moment. Connor is an Alpha that just taunted another Alpha. If not for the fact that Conner has already earned his place here with hard work, bent over backwards to help others and has already been the victim of the verbal abuse I have hurled upon him last session – I would have taken this as a challenge to my authority.
Upon his landing, he is feeling the mojo, and comes right up to me and, examining my shiny tete, asks me,
“Guess how old my dad is”
“How should I know? Its not like I think about the guy”.
“Okay, I’ll say 48”
He chuckles, and proudly declares, “nope, he’s 60”.
I start doing the mental math.
“Connor, your dad must have had you in his early 40’s”
“Yes, sir, I keep my dad young.”
“Well Connor, I guess that makes you one hell of an accident.” Three students, carefully monitoring the exchange, burst out laughing, and my revenge is complete.
The point being that the whole community is one big tribe of people pleasantly razzing each other, as if they’ve known each other for years. It is quite beautiful with that group.
Life is pretty darn sweet up here, except the weather.
Until next time.