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Dear Boundless Families:

Defining moments of a group can never be scripted.

The English class had one 3 days ago at Blueberry campsite on the Madawaska.  The plan was to tent a couple of nights alongside gentle rapids, summoning the Henry David Thoreau inside each one of them.

Finding a perfect spot to call home, and with a thunderstorm looming, Stranger spontaneously orders the BIG ERECTION. In a heartbeat, the gang grabs a 20X24 tarp, and voila, they have a shelter for the imminent downpour.  The poetry show, their lesson that afternoon, must go on.

The storm slams them hard. The ferocious wind dislodged a tree limb that sliced the tarp. So much for staying dry. Poetry lesson sabotaged.

The imaginative among them quickly pick up the lost cause tarp, and come up with the brilliant idea to use it as a tattered drape. All 27 huddled under this plastic skydome. They read poetry. They use thunderous metaphors. They are giddy. The magic in the moment showered over them in a torrent greater than the storm itself.

Those english scholars are working hard. Sometimes I wish Stranger would ease up a bit. She’ll have none of that. She quips that I am turning into my mother.

The outdoor crew, now deep into the Dumoine River wilderness, are in radio silence.  We haven’t heard a boo. This is a great thing. They too have found their own virtue, but it didn’t come in an aha moment. It crept in.

They rallied around a fellow student with severe anxiety. Crippling shyness. So withdrawn. But a few times every day, he would become animated. His face would light up brighter than the incessant sunshine these days, and his peers would melt into a puddle at the sight. They tried to adopt him.

He sat alone at lunch. Ly-Anne, the archetype for kindness, is outraged at the sight.

She bellowed,

“No one sits alone in this group”. She promptly sidled up to him, and both of them quietly nibbled their sandwiches. The young lad could not conceal his smile.

But it wasn’t just Ly-Anne reaching out. All tried. They hollered encouragement through the rapids. They engaged him in splash fights. Dirty jokes abounded.

But their efforts, like those of our staff, didn’t succeed. He went home on day 5, breaking all our hearts.

Its a reminder how debilitating the anxiety demon can be. And yet, there are dividends.

Outdoor crew parents, you would be so proud of the selfless nature your kids displayed. Everyone has baggage, and your kids are no exception. But they went above and beyond here.

And like the English kids, I am guessing they are having the time of their lives. Everyone acts like they own the place here. It’s a joy.

I join the outdoor cohort tomorrow and will hang with them during their final descent of the Dumoine, concluding Saturday night when they cross the mighty Ottawa River.

I can’t wait.

I presume most of you are prancing about in your homes right now acting like teenagers yourselves. I certainly hope so.

Warm regards,

Steven