Dear Boundless Families:
Both outdoor groups are long gone on the Dumoine. I have a very brief report on the younger OE, offered to me by Ashley, our Program Manager, who provided whitewater support during hairy sections where the water flows downhill in heart-thumping ways.
She couldn’t stop chuckling in her attempt to describe how utterly adorable the kids are. She added that they are thriving and may just be the most delightful cohort of the summer.
I got nothing on the older OE crew, but their satellite phone silence is pleasantly deafening, I know they are in great shape.
Both groups face multiple days of rain ahead – our first real stretch all summer. They have fleece, rain gear, long undergarments, warm sleeping bags, enough food for an army; and, especially, they have each other. These OE groups are just humming.
I visited younger English this afternoon. The diversity in the class is stunning. There are some kids who will be writing Nobel Prize winning fiction one day, they are that good. And there are a tiny handful that, if they pass, it will be a triumph that rivals Agamemnon’s conquering of Troy. It is this smaller group that intrigues me the most.
One, in particular, is winning a stunning battle. It’s essay time. This young lad has a reputation for baiting staff in non sequiturs, a wily and transparent strategy to avoid work. Staff smirk every time he tries, and bear down affectionately to help him along.
But the truth is that when you write, its just you and a laptop. And when I asked him how his essay was coming along, he beamed,
“I did one page!” I walked silently away from him, fighting back my sissy tears.
Last night, Tony, our principled Principal, paddled to where they were having an overnight. What he saw made him lose his s..t.
Shannon, a staff member, was hogtied around a campfire scene, and the younglings were chanting some rhythmic and aggressive lilt that was intended to isolate and humiliate.
Take five seconds to guess the novel they are currently studying. Quick. Five, four, three, two, one.
That’s right! William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a brilliant piece about the cruel descent of group dynamics in children when left alone to their own devices.
Macky, their teacher, knows her stuff, and is milking every novel opportunity for the group to assess its own adherence to our code of kindness. Quite a brilliant book choice, if I may brag about my colleague.
Tony gave me a brief update on the 4uers. That pain-first-pleasure-later mantra is yielding powerful dividends. Jim has let loose the reins, and the class is becoming more playful by the minute. Today they were running around under overcast skies taking videos for some assignment, I know not what.
The spirit of that class is strong, jocular and ready to get down to business at a moment’s notice. They have found their groove.
Not that I would know much about it directly. My exile appears permanent. I suspect its best that way.
I am heading out to the Dumoine River tomorrow (Sunday) morning to join up with the younger OE class. My purpose shall be to bear chocolate and watermelon as gifts, get downright silly, and to certify their river guide to lead whitewater all on his own. The kids shall be witness to this test. Its a big deal – it took three years for this leader to be ready. Its also quite entertaining because I often include students in conspiracies to make the river guide think fast.
I’ll be back at you in a few days.