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Happy Saturday Afternoon:
I am a little lazy today – perhaps the privilege of having both outdoor cohorts deep in the Quebec wilderness helps. Those lovely mugs of yours are long gone, and the Satellite phone hasn’t rung.
The English crews are on auto-drive, back from their own camping forays into the Madawaska wilderness.
The sun is shining, your kids are rosy-cheeked, immortal and forgetting that there is an outside reality. All four groups are thriving.
Especially the youngest crew. I am thrilled to say that before they left yesterday morning, the human foghorn, AKA Tyler the Trip Leader, burst into my office with a spring in his step.
“We’re there! See ya later”.
Tyler is referring to a sweet spot in group dynamics. It’s a time when team members can wear the same face with different people. This, as opposed to the uncomfortable opposite, where one feels obliged to wear many faces, even with one person.
I believe Crosby, Stills and Nash coined it best when their battle cry was to let “freak flags fly”. Just like they do in families. Or in tight knit cliques. You just feel good and yourself around people.
I sauntered by the younger English class yesterday. Five were tap tap tapping away on their laptops completing short stories in one of the most gorgeous screened-in river-front porches ya ever saw.. With this rambunctious lot, I swear they would use these machines as frisbees if given the chance.
It seems that the staff and kids have found this wonderful balance between work and play. This group needs lots of the latter, but have proven they can put in the work to justify the liberty.
I bellow, “I’ve come to distract you guys and cause s..t”
Four of the five kids look up, easy for them because they were on the cusp of completing the assignment.
But there there was the fifth. I quickly realized I put my foot in it.
He was receiving one-to-one support. His teacher, Courtney, gave me a lightening quick leave-us-the-hell-alone glance. One distraction will ruin the momentum of this young lad.
But it’s too late. or maybe not.
With a ridiculously charming smile he asks me,
“How tall are you”
“What’s it to ya?
“I gotta figure out the length of a rhino for my story”.
Befuddled by the logic behind his request, unless of course, this is his indirect way of observing the pitfalls of me eating too many cheezies, I don my patient face and inquire,
“What does my height have to do with a rhino?”
The question eludes him, for he is intent on collecting data any way he can.
He insists to the tallest of the other 4 kids,
“Stand up and compare your height with Steve”
So the other kid, a total sweetheart who is equally perplexed, obliges with kindness. We stand back to back, tush to tush.
I couldn’t help but quip, “You and I have to stop meeting like this.”
He and is mates burst out laughing. But not the student who is conducting this rigorous scientific inquiry. Oh no, he appears satisfied, and returns to his new-found religion of writing like a wizard on the brink of conjuring new magic.
What is striking to me is how a lad with a history of utterly despising English is transfixed by the work. But there is no shortcut here. He needs one-to-one support until he can get on his own two feet. And he is getting this one-to-one. So it feels good.
This is a day of feeling good all round. Tomorrow, I join the older outdoor crew on the Dumoine and will spend a day descending Red-Pine Rapids. I’ll have lots of juicy stuff to report when I get back.
Until then, enjoy your weekends.
Warm regards,
Steven Gottlieb
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