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Dear Boundless Families:

Everyone arrived safely. Always a blessing when that happens.

This ridiculously fantastic weather is getting kind of eerie. I went to Toronto for two days, and when I returned this morning, everything that was once green has turned into 600 acres of straw. Fire bans abound. We are in official drought.

It was great seeing old faces return and how they lit up when the saw some of their favourite teachers. They know what they are getting into – the benevolence of this place. The new kids don’t have the benefit of experience, but already, they are sensing something special about the atmosphere. Which is to say that not a soul feels distress. Buy-in will take a few more days for some, but I am confident.

To set the stage for the next 13 days, lets begin with the Outdoor crew. True to their mission, they took off around 2:00pm and haven’t been seen since. I suspect they were baptized into swimming the rapids, learned the ropes of how to keep a canoe straight, and are now feasting on burgers by Island Rapids on the river.

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it.

They are led by one Tyler McCartney, who during his teacher interview 5 years ago proclaimed his respect for the military genius of Julius Caesar and Napoleon, nearly losing the gig for these absurd historical fallacies. I challenged him them, and still do. He always pushes back with force. He’ll do the same with your kids. But he’ll execute the maneuver with that baby-faced smile of his, enough to melt the hearts of the most recalcitrant younglings. Picture a charming foghorn who can’t shave, and you have Tyler.

In the absence of any real dirt on this cohort, all I could glean on their welfare was from Tyler’s eyes and demeanour. You can tell how a group is doing by taking a Ju Ju measure of the trip leader. McCartney was calm, smiling, telling stories of ukuleles on the bus and feeling self-assured. This means things are well in hand. I’ll have much more for the reader in a few days. 

And then there is the English Gang, whose course director in Ashely Strange (no kidding). Folks around here call her Stranger. She moonlights as the Program Director of Boundless, and has spent eight years honing her prowess at leading and teaching. A volcano could erupt in her living room, and she would manage the crisis with the greatest of equanimity and humour.

I encountered all 21 of these future writers during their swim test. They were all wearing life jackets for the test itself. The absurdity of this protocol was not lost on most. I must confess that the way the risk management industry is going, they would put lifejackets on your kids, wrap them in a giant bubble, and strap them into seats with airbags. We have to play ball. Its just that way nowadays. 

And while this disgusts me, your kids took all this in stride. They have been hanging out in school boards for over a decade, and understand deeply how inane bureaucracies can be. They were just happy to cool off in the river, and likely will be repeated visits to these pristine waters to fight off the heat.

I engaged most of girls when they emerged from the river. They are toweling off and feeling chilled out, so I let fly an unorthodox opening question,

“Do you think you are mean girls or kind girls?” 

They know exactly what I am getting at. If mean, their life will be more challenging. If kind, they will beccome a force that defines the tone for the entire class. And in asking the question, a light is being cast on the value here.

In lockstep, they respond emphatically that they are kind. This old cynic knows they doth protest too much, but i would guess at this early stage that they will figure it out, and carry the whole team with them into a joyful country club of learners. 

It started already when Kiana saw three fellas (me among the trio) tossing a pre-dinner football. She unabashedly inserts herself into this testosterone club without batting an eye. Soon three other gals join in, and then about 6 more guys, and we have a spontaneous football game on hand. We were late for dinner. Stranger let this be for a while, but soon starting ringing the dinner bell like she was big mama on the prairie. And the feeling was exquisite. In 5 short hours, the kids already have to be dragged away from one another. If they keep this up, you can bet they will support each other in the massive material they have to cover in just 12 days.

Stranger finally did the BIG REVEAL – what two novels shall be covered. She has chosen ANNIHILATION – I’ve never heard of it before. And shockingly, the smaller novel is Kurt Vonnegut’s GALAPAGOS.

“Why these books Stranger?” I inquire somewhat mystified.

“Because six of the kids are very strong in sciences and weak in English, and these two books have fascinating scientific premises.”

This nifty approach is just how Stranger rolls.

Its been a wonderful first day. I’ll email a few more times over the course of the session. To be candid, we have a few anxious parents out there this session. To these folks, I say with the greatest of affection – let us do our work. We will treat your kids as our own. No news is good news. REALLY. If there is any issue going on with your kid, you can bet we will contact you.

Usually by day 3, if you have heard nothing, then break out the wine, relax, and enjoy your liberty.

Warm regards,