Dear Boundless Families:
Your kids have already lived a lifetime in the last few days of stormy weather. I’ll get right to it cohort by cohort:
I popped by this morning to a scene of 20 kids tap-tap-tapping at their laptops, writing a personal manifesto that where they are to outline their values, morals and principals. A personal lifetime mission, if you will.
Summoning my best Forest Gump voice (the scene where he sits down in front of the TV with his young son whom he is meeting for the first time”, I sit down beside the first victim that I see. Poor Linden.
Linden brandishes a warm smile and declares that she is plugging away at her manifesto. I read her first line, which is intended to emphasize the key to her happiness. Written in big font and boldly, she asserts, “TO TAKE CARE OF MY OWN INTERESTS”.
For a closet socialist like myself, I sharpen my knives for an attack.
“You know, Linden, psychologists and religious leaders would regard that statement as a formula for unhappiness. They say that the more we support others, the happier we’ll be”.
Linden won’t have any of it. She pauses, and I see the neurons in her brain going at the speed of light. Within 5 seconds she retorts,
“Yes, but if everyone lived up to my manifesto, there would be no need to support others. We’d all be happy”.
Touche. Such is life in the quick-witted English class.
But I believe she is dead wrong. That class is all about helping each other, and Linden is prospering every minute in that atmosphere. On day one I gave the 18 of 20 ratio of students to the joy zone. Today, we are 20 for 20.
Their novel is Medicine Walk – a story about a dying dad and his boy going for a long walk in the dwindling days of the father’s life. To burn off some steam, the group drove to Rockingham Church yesterday – one of the oldest in the valley. Some of the characters in the novel live in a Rockingham setting, so it resonated well with the class.
The shoeless Athenian pedagogue Tony invited me to teach a class on Divinity, the Afterlife, Morality and Free Will. “By the way”, he grins with devilish mischief, “you have 2 hours”.
This task is akin to impeaching Trump by dinnertime today. I can only dream.
But I was brave like a true Existentialist, and carried on because I have the free will to do so.
Of the vast array on knowledge on these matters, I chose to cover 4 worldviews – Existentialism, Hinduism, Lakota (Sioux Nation in Nebraska and South Dakota) and Judaism.
We did a pre and post survey of students’ beliefs on the existence of God, from where morality should stem (self, society or God), free will vs. fate, and the reasons human beings created religion in the first place.
The data comparison was fascinating. More people ended up believing in a Higher Being after the session than before it. While paradoxically, people believed more in self-determination in morality and free will.
The experience was especially joyous for me and I am thankful to be part of a group of such amazing kids. That cohort is 16 for 16. They are just so good to each other. Respectful and patient and and tolerant. Do not have a coronary but I am really talking about your kids. We are watching kids transform into human beings before our very eyes.
Older Outdoor Crew
Those buggers are never around, so I accosted them for the few moments that they were on property this afternoon. Ashley, their leader, describes them as not being very flamboyant. More like utterly chilled out. No teen posturing going on. This has translated to students just grooving on this place and the activities and each other. I was haranguing them with some banter to test whether this is all too good to be true. Really, they have been this way since late afternoon day one. And it is true. That concoction of teen hormones is 12 for 12.
“They” say that a session is only as good as the weakest cohort. While it has taken a few days – not unusual for younglings – they have found their stride, especially after today, when they just nailed their Madawaska river run in preparation for the journey to the Dumoline River in Quebec for 6 days, leaving Sunday. That group is 9 for 10, with the tenth well on his way.
The older outdoor group leaves Monday.
Here’s to hoping you all enjoy your long weekends. Things are pretty peachy up here.