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Dear Boundless Families:

As I neared the Dumoine region territory on Saturday to meet up with the OE gang, the north wind started blowing. This cleared the humidity, and humility, of this motley crew.  In what is normally a brutal 15km stretch of flatwater, the northern breeze gave them a tailwind, and it put a spring in their paddles. Bold, brash and bug-bitten without a care in the world, the team had the mojo.

I held court around the fire-pit, offering up chocolate and watermelon and taunts as a calling card. They gather around, for despite my age, I am new energy – a raw attraction in a cloistered tribe.

Amidst a free flowing chat that chaotically spread in many directions, I hone in on Braydon boasting that he has no guilt. “Well Brayden, I would say that makes you a psychopath.”

His peers perk up and giggle.

Brayden is intrigued and quipped. “I thought that made me a sociopath. What’s the difference between the two?”

I end using the word “manipulative” in my explanation. I can see that this is a new word for him, and he mouthes its many syllables. 

I find this banter ironic, for Braydon is one of those kids that has gained the most from the experience. Learning to trust that it’s okay to wear one’s heart on a sleeve with people you trust, he is the polar opposite of manipulative. Abrasiveness has evolved into selflessness (to a degree of course).

His story is the tip of the iceberg with this group. Especially the boys. Liam, Joe and Ben come to mind as making extraordinary achievements.

The four gals are golden, but they were that way to begin with.

As I was about to leave for the night to stay at the shack on the lake that I purchased way way back, Rylan asked, innocently enough, “why don’t you just camp here with us”. That’s when I defined another word – catatonic – as the state I would be in should I accept his offer.

The next morning the group and I were to meet at 8:45 am halfway down  Lac Robinson. They arrived ten minutes early. This NEVER happens, but somehow Kevin and the staff team has whipped them into shape. We all paddle in what amounts to a ten million square foot shimmering mirror that reflects back a scene that took my breathe away. 26 degree temps. 23 degree water. Happy gang, and a whitewater adventure that beckoned.

I think about the billions of years of evolution and the quintillions of variables that came together for this exquisite moment. For all the kids’ bravado, I was humbled. We made it down that high water in full splendour. Ben declares on day one that “I am paddling solo the entire river”. Oh are you now Ben. “Yes I am”. And so it was, Ben making the case for Boundless to hire him in 7 years time when he becomes a human being.

Enough about splendid OE.

I will try and blend the almost infinite variety of lessons that have gone on in both english classes (stand-alone english and Hybrid english).

Learning to debate whilst floating in a raft; playing dodgeball to learn about literary conflict; conducting an elaborate murder mystery to practice the art of inference; blindfolded sensory walks and incursions on the high ropes course to hone descriptive skills; younger kids doing rap videos for poetry, making propaganda posters (a big hit) to learn the art of persuasion; and this is small fraction of how busy your kids have been.

The English class – they have had a metaphorical tailwind since the first hour on day one – they are coming home tomorrow VERY happy, and better readers and writers. The worst complaint I heard – and I sought this out – was from Courtney who said she doesn’t like morning energizers. “Just let us sleep and eat”. I was expecting a “like, duh” as a suffix,  but she was respectful and held back.

The hybridders – more on them in a special email, probably towards this coming weekend. But I will say this. Those kids are growing by leaps and bounds. Of the 17 males, two are clearly the alpha – and they set a razzing tone early on. This needed to be eroded. Quickly and relentlessly. And it was. It’s as if kindness has become a religion in that team. Antipathy has morphed into engagement. We are witnessing incredible transformations. But the war is not yet won. But I think it will be.

If one accepts the fact that overcoming conflict is a necessary ingredient to sincere group cohesion as I do, then the Hybridders are learning the most of anyone on this property. I am becoming quite proud of this group.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work for your kids. Thanks for sending them to us.

Warm regards,
Steven Gottlieb