Month: January 2013

ice

Unbridled joy… that’s what you get when you mix a snow day, ice-coated mountain
driveway, and a run with a 10-year-old.

My daughter’s face lit up when I posed the idea of going for a run on this icy day
home from school. “This will be pretty funny, mom.” And it was. The laughter erupted
when we struggled to gain and maintain traction up the first big hill—we couldn’t look
at each other (we were too focused on our own balance) but we could clearly imagine
how ridiculous we each must look. Each step was an adventure of whether we could
continue to gain ground. Finally, one of us said what we were both thinking: that
coming back down was going to be really crazy. We journeyed the icy mile separately,
but were brought together when we heard the yelps of each of us almost falling
peppering the quiet woods. That was only broken with the sounds of our redbone
coonhound’s nails grappling for control and sliding as she shared in our struggles.
We ran, slipped, and searched continuously for places of stability where gravel poked
through the ice or bits of ice chunks provided the slightest reprieve.

Coming down was as crazy as predicted and although the goal was simple, to not fall, I
realized that this challenge of coming down was much different. While we were trying to
not lose ground on our climb up the hills, on the way back down, we were desperate to
slow the pace and not gain ground too quickly and slide out of control.

Of course, it made me think about the personal and business challenges I approach
and navigate each day. Which of those am I trying to gain footing, move carefully
through to not lose ground or fall, and where do I find places of strength, stability, and
safety to continue to push on? And, which of those am I worried the accelerated pace
is potentially a threat and I need to gain traction and control to not gain faster than
I can manage? And then… are there times that I am skipping or avoiding “the run”
altogether?

Brian2

Brian graduated to the age of our Teen Expeditions. His growth as a learner, a leader, and a contributor shone brighter and brighter with each trip. 

It was years later Brian moved the room giving a speech at the wedding of one of his Adventure Links mentors—there was not a dry eye in the house. He said that life had delivered exactly what he needed at that time in his life—an angel. He was searching for guidance, inspiration, personal challenge, and those that believed in him. That angel came in the form of an Adventure Links expedition leader named Elena. It was a poignant moment of realizing that the gifts she and her co-leader Scott had given of themselves during their leadership at Adventure Links would return in gratitude and powerful impact.  To me, I felt like I had started something exponential and the circles continued to expand as our staff and campers made their marks in the world. 

The story only grows.  Stay tuned.

Brian1

I had absolutely no idea just how many hundreds of lives would be changed with that
fateful phone call on a beautiful Spring morning over a decade ago. It was a mother,
an unbelievably committed, energetic, and wise mother looking for a summer camp
program for her son. Little did I know that our conversation was launching a journey for
her son Brian, for our company, and for a gift in my life that still lives strong today.

I lost count of the number of times this mother called back to speak to me to “get
just a little more information” to make sure we were the right match for her child. I
was intrigued by her passion and she was not remotely hesitant to ask me the tough
questions. Eventually I learned that Brian’s mom was the founder of an advocacy
program for individuals with developmental disabilities—Starfish Savers. It’s no wonder
she knew all the right questions!

Finally, she signed Brian up for an overnight program and he arrived, duffel in hand, with
gratitude in his eyes that his mom was sending him on this adventure. It was not
long into the overnight camp that Brian is rumored to have said “I’m going to work here
one day—I like it here.” The good thing? We liked him too! Brian navigated the effects
of bi-polar every day of his life and with us had found a community and an emotional
embrace to explore his potential, his gifts, and ignite and focus his unquenchable
energy and zest for learning.

Year after year, Brian returned, he thrived, and as a company, it is an honor to consider
that we were a part of his journey through adolescence and were direct witness (and
beneficiaries) to the development of his passions. And we had only just begun…

Sometimes you just have no idea how powerful a role your child plays in another child’s life. It seemed like just another one of many play dates for my 5th grade daughter recently but this one ended quite differently!
The light conversation with her friend’s mother quickly gained depth and speed when we began sharing about our own childhoods (the good and the “bad”). We shared its impact on us as mothers and how we strive to support our daughters’ lives and whims.  She described how her daughter spent most of her early years with an inability to express emotion and did not speak a word until she was four years old. Upon reaching school age, she scored off the charts in testing but struggled to express herself verbally both academically and socially. She saw the look of surprise on my face as she described what sounded like a stranger to the little girl I had come to know as my daughter’s friend. She said “I don’t know who sent your daughter to us, but I am so thankful! She has changed our girl’s life and is her first friend ever.” She went on to describe how it has given her daughter confidence and a sense of belonging. I thought back to the lessons I was taught in my years as an elementary school teacher by the brilliant works of Michael Thompson. I realized that his philosophy on the impact a quality best friend has upon the ability to cope with adversity as a child was coming true right before my eyes.
I dug a little deeper to see what he meant by quality and it was EXACTLY what my daughter was giving to this girl:
Adolescents Definition of Quality:
“…an open ear to listen to me, don’t judge me, different perspective on me, gives me no slack, gives me the power to talk about anything, something to smile at, gives me hope, strength, courage, trust, self-confidence.” taken from: Best Friends, Worst Enemies by Michael Thompson
My resolution:
In the turn of this new year, I will reach out to those best friends from years past and those standing with me today and thank them for giving me hope, strength, courage, and trust. I will also continue to honor and provide opportunities for youth to experience quality friendships with Adventure Links as thousands pass through our life here.
Thank you and Happy 2013.