The full-time summer camp is on now and it is such an incredible learning opportunity for both the girls and I. We rock climb, canoe and kayak, do GPTeaming (teams use a GPS and to locate activity based initiative caches) and learn lots of outdoor living skills.
When I take the children on plants and trees identification hikes, I tell them to stop us anytime they have something to share about a plant or a tree they know. One First Nation girl told us about how her grandma used to say that when soapberries turn red, the salmons are running. Another First Nation kid showed us how to gut and eat minnows.
In the last few weeks, I've learned to use an Atlatl (a spear-thrower), improved my paddling strokes and have become better at teaching all sorts of skills. I have rubbed sunscreen on many many kids and held hands with little five year olds who were scared of falling in the outhouse when peeing. I've wiped tears and noses.
The girls are now all proficient belayers and help me set up the routes on the rock climbing days before the camp children arrive (they bring the ropes up, install the ground anchors, carabiners and grigris, and tie different knots), they've made new friends and are learning a lot about group dynamics, teambuilding, communication skills and so much more!
I've had moments when I wondered what I was doing there, but many more where I was in complete awe that I was actually paid to spend a day paddling on turquoise lakes and rock climbing with my girls.
My hands are full of scratches and cuts, my body is sore from carrying big bins of ropes and bringing canoes up and down a trailer. I'm getting stronger and more confident by the day.
I've learned that this is right along my alley and that it combines my love for the outdoor with my love of people, my natural leadership and organization skills and my sense of compassion.
It's truly an incredible experience for all of us.
We come back home tired and dirty, smelling of smoke and bug spray. I love that we spend 8 to 10 hours a day outside in nature, learning and playing and being active.
And by the way, if you think the girl in Eat, Pray, Love has it hard to meditate with mosquitoes swarming around her in India, imagine what it feels like to belay someone with mosquitoes biting you everywhere. That, my friend, is a lesson in mindfulness.