I am a biologist but don’t get outside often enough to do what I thought I would be doing full-time as a career. I, like many parents, am also overloaded with multiple tasks that impinge on my family life and should spend more time with my kids doing healthy activities. Last month, I was fortunate enough to address both of these issues in one shot as I joined the secondary students of Metis Beach School, where my son is a student, on a three-day hiking, cultural exchange, canoeing trip in Parc de la Gaspésie and the Bonaventure River.
We hiked up Mont Albert on a Wednesday (it rained), met up with a school group from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation that night for a bonfire and storytelling (the stars were out), and then spent two sunny days with both schools canoeing-camping down about 40 km of a wonderfully clean and clear salmon river. Although my son and I were both part of the group that did the long trek, I didn’t paddle the canoe with him on this occasion. But that was just fine with me as I was nonetheless privileged to get an inside view of his world and the people that he spends probably the greatest amount of time with day to day.
It was great seeing how he interacts with his peers and how he has grown into a responsible teenager (there is still work to be done). I also know that my and the help of other parent volunteers is greatly appreciated and that such trips could probably not happen without it. I will also go on the next planned trip but I encourage any other parents that can get away to take the opportunity to join the group and get insight into a world that is, by default, somewhat unknown. And they feed you!