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Dear Boundless Families:

Everyone arrived safely. I heard the traffic Gods were unkind, so special thanks for the diligence.

The kids arrived to a kind of summer afternoon that reminds you of when you were a kid, biking to the store on crunchy gravel, buying popsicles with your pal, and doing a whole lot of nothing except just being. 

Well, that’s not quite happening with your brood for they have started a frenetic pace. But the sentiment holds true, for the kids have already come to understand there are good people here, and they can breathe this exquisite valley air unfettered by meanies.

This is a big deal in the first few hours for any sentient human being starting a journey, but triple the significance for teenagers.

While the two-creditors are on day 19, two groups are enjoying day one. Please indulge me while I give you the lay of the land.

I’ll start with the Outdoor Ed group. Twelve fledgling homo sapiens with a rather international flair to them. A young lad from Burkina Faso ( a piece of paradise in Africa), a sweetheart from Serbia, and a third from way way north. When introduced to Emma, I declare,

“Oh, your’e from Iqaluit”. 

She smirks, “Actually from Yellowknife”.

“Big deal, they’re neighbours aren’t they? Like, only 6000 kms apart”?

Emma rolls her eyes, but secretly takes comfort in my absurdity, which is essentially an invitation to draw hers out. The others watch carefully. A sturdy lass named Hope extends her hand for a shake. And it is firm. Who is this gal who seems like she is preparing her future Prime Minister’s campaign? 

Of course there’s a few Ottawans, descending from parents who are all glib in their Glebe (couldn’t resist). Thank goodness for the few Torontonians – my hometown – there are traces of John Wayne in this minority.

This group has spirit. Their tripe leader, Ashley Strange (really her name), who everyone in these parts refer to as Stranger, gives me a clandestine nod after lunch. I ask her to take off her sunglasses, for the eyes reveal all secrets to how she is feeling about her group. She unleashes an almost furtive smile, and I know her group is starting out golden.

Time will tell.

The English crew has Jim Risk as their course director. For those of a certain age who remember WELCOME BACK KOTTER in the 70’s, a sitcom about a teacher who returns to his high school ten years after being a student, and teaches a group of “meatheads”, there is a certain resonance with Jimmy’s situation. 

Jim was our first Program Manager in the 80’s – back when he had magnetism – and he is returning after 30 years to teach a group that on first impression are the opposite of meatheads. “Don’t worry James”, I reassure him, I’ll personally make up for any deficiency of meatheadedness. He invited me to teach the class on Friday and I’ll make him regret it.

Jimmy had 8 of the kids entranced in a game involving a bottle cap that made me embarrassed we have a budget for luxurious things like a ball or a disc. I am guessing he is going easy on day one. But the line up of learning will come fast to this group. Kids get to choose their novel from a surprisingly broad list, which has strong Indigenous themes.  These are:

Indian Horse
Diary of a Part Time Indian
Little Bee
The Book of Lost Things

Jim, too, gave me a casual thumbs up on his first impressions of the class. He nearly fell off his chair observing a cocky cohort actually do dishes without being asked. Sounds too good to be true.

We shall see.

Parents of the 2-credit kids, your gang has gone. Like Eastern-Algonquin-Park-Barron-River kind of gone. I’ll write a special update on Friday. There has been SAT phone silence. This is a wonderful kind of silence.

I will be writing a few updates over the next 13 days to give you various scoops. If you receive nothing else, things are well with your child. No news is good news.

Happy Monday.

Steven Gottlieb