Dear Boundless Families:
On Friday, when the heat wave released its grip, and a cool Norwester blew relief into our deer-fly bitten bodies, I encountered the Goonies at their Lac Robinson campsite on the Dumoine River.
They don’t really use the identity of Goonies any longer. That didn’t stick. Not that it needed to. It became apparent at first glance that the team found a deeper meaning to who they are.
They had just paddled a 15km head-windy stretch that culminated in a 1.6 km portage. I expected to see them strewn about the site exhausted and craving calories. I brought a stash of Kit Kats just for this purpose (but also to bribe my way into the group).
Instead of exhaustion, I witnessed a chilled out domestic scene that would have you parents collapse in a coronary for the shock of seeing your boys taking on 50 shades of tiny initiatives, like they were grown-ups prepping dinner after a long and hard day.
Three were tending to the sauna they had constructed through sheer grit. Two were cutting vegetables. The rest were tidying the campsite, moving packs around as if they were preparing to host a dinner party where everything has to be just so.
River and Thunder (formerly known as Jonathan – the youngest and most endearing of the crew) were chatting around the fire, doing a whole lot of nothing other than enjoying each other’s company. They have been canoe partners the whole time, and have forged a deep big-sister-younger-brother bond.
I noted, “You guys look like you got each others’ backs”.
Jonathan, proud as a peacock, declares, “we paddle together”.
Then there is Ethan, who acknowledges me with a pathetic Ozzy accent that has gripped him for days.
I wonder out loud, “What’s that pigeon english about?” He smirks mischieviously .
Ethan arrived with a wicked anti-outdoor bias. I queried this, “Ethan, have you come to like the outdoors at all?”
“I can’t stand it”, he deadpans with a smile that rivals the luminosity of our sun. Yet I know he is somewhat serious. Water is not his thing. So, when I hear from KK that Ethan emerged as the emotional centrepiece of the group, I am impressed with the scope of Ethan’s ability to adapt.
Deen hears me whine to to the staff that I forgot to bring my canoe booster seat. I need this chair through the whitewater because I recently had a knee replacement and the joint just won’t bend like the old days.
Seeing my distress, Deen runs to the storage pile and brings me a piece of finished lumber he found floating in the river. It seems heaven sent, for it is the perfect width and depth. I cannot believe my good fortune. Deen is beaming that he just saved a grandpa-wannabe from distress and pain. He and I forge an instant respect for one another.
The descent through Red Pine Papids the next day was like watching a group of robots on a car assembly line. The many elaborate pieces of their strategy were executed with great precision. No muss no fuss. Pure business. No fear. These are the ingredients to a sense of mastery.
All of this is to say that the outdoor cohort found themselves. I am proud of them. Not everything went smoothly with this gang, making their growth very special.
As to the English class, I haven’t seen much of them recently because they achieved auto-drive by day two. Lots of work, lots of play. We have spoiled them rotten. They will never want to take regular english again. They will return better writers. They will also come back bewildered as to how different and unorthodox is the education paradigm they just experienced. They learned as a team, always supporting each other. That is the part that has ruined them. One told me he will never likely experience that kind of camaraderie again.
This has been a good session, filled with small victories that you shall see woven into your kids’ faces tomorrow when you pick them up.
Thanks for sending your kids to us! Enjoy your reunions tomorrow.