Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adventure of a lifetime...

I’ve experienced a fair number of crazy things in my lifetime. Some of them self induced (paragliding, trapeze lessons, drum lessons, getting a tattoo) some of them not (having been to 24 schools between Kindergarten and high school graduation, having Bell’s palsy as a kid, having a piece of satellite break the cockpit window and needing to make an emergency landing the first time I ever went on a plane just to name a few)

So it’s safe to say, that I like a life of adventure. That’s not to say that I don’t crave stability. I do. I’ve now been at the same job for over 6 years, the same apartment for just about 5 years and relationships? Well, that’s a work in progress. A few years ago, at this point in my life, I thought I’d be thinking about having a family and house of my own. An adventure in it’s own right, for sure, but I certainly would have never predicted the adventure I’m about to embark on.

I work for a fantastic company that’s always treated me great. I’ve always felt fortunate to have the work/life balance that I’ve experienced the past 6 years. My company has a program where they sponsor a couple of people per year to attend the National Outdoor Leadership School. I’m not sure how many applicants apply, but I do know it’s a very prestigious thing to be selected. Last month, on a bit of a whim, I decided to apply. Imagine my surprise (joy, and honor) when I was actually selected to go. For one month at the end of July, I’m going to be in the absolute middle of nowhere (somewhere in the Yukon) on the expedition of a lifetime.

The expedition starts with a two week hike. That’s right. Two weeks of backpack wilderness camping/hiking. It’s then followed by two weeks of white water canoeing. And no, I’ve never backpack camped in my life. I applied for the program to have something to push myself for. The past couple of years have pushed me emotionally, but it’s time to challenge myself physically.

The last time I did something remotely close to this was when I was 13. Well, it certainly wasn’t my decision, nor did I embrace it, but more than 20 years later, I realize how valuable it was. My mom’s boyfriend at the time, Jim, decided he was tired of my 13 year old attitude and sarcasm. So, in order for him and my mom to have a bit of a peaceful summer, I got sent to summer camp. I was used to growing up and spending my summers in the city so I didn’t have the first clue about camp. I got sent to camp for a month, and in that month, there was a 10 day canoe trip component. I’d never stepped foot in a canoe, how was I going to sit in one for 10 days? Jim outfitted me with everything I needed and then some. I got sent to camp with my own paddle, camping dishes, hiking boots you name it. I showed up for the camp bus in my matching outfit with matching earrings and my own paddle. It’s safe to say, I got laughed at.

All of the counselors oohed and aahhed over my paddle. I must be serious if I got sent to camp with my own paddle. Though I didn’t embrace the idea of camp, when I’m pushed into a “sink or swim” situation, I know how to pull it together. The first week of camp was spent teaching us how to prepare for our 10 day canoe trip. Our trip was going to be in Temagami and was going to involve over 70km of paddling. Once we took off, I was excited to see what my fancy paddle could do. To sum up, that 10 day canoe trip and month long camp changed my life. They opened me to the world of the outdoors and my lifelong appreciation for it.

Over 20 years later, I find myself with a similar opportunity. One month, 2 weeks in a canoe and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. I’m scared to death. What if I don’t make it? What if I’m the weakest one in the class? But aside from the physical challenge, I want to be able to push myself mentally as well. The past couple of years have made me realize that somewhere along the line in my adult life, I forgot to get some self confidence. Something as life changing as this, is bound to find me some. Wish me luck.