Ecuador or bust!

The English class that I give for the Adventure Tourism and Ecotourism Program at Collège Mérici has quickly become one of my favorite courses. The participants are smart, curious, enthusiastic, and fun. They are everything a teacher is looking for in a student – everything adventure tourists are looking for in a guide. And this year’s crop of future adventure leaders is no exception. They have impressed me with their unbounded energy and desire to learn.

The 2023 cohort is a tight-knit group of eight, with great chemistry and a sense of team that is obvious the second you walk into their classroom. Six of them are from the Province of Québec; two are from France, having discovered in Québec a place with seemingly limitless wilds waiting to be explored. Their backgrounds are varied as well. A number of them have travelled widely; some are back in school after years in the workplace; others are seeking to add a hands-on component to academic degrees had elsewhere. However, they all share a dogged determination to complete the program that will prepare them to brave the hinterlands with tourists in tow. They have just started semester two, having finished their first semester of coursework in December.

They also have a pair of training expeditions under their belt. Last September, they hiked the Sentier du Fjord, a 41-kilometer path that follows the ridge along the north shore of the Saguenay River between Tadoussac and Baie Sainte-Marguerite. They trekked several kilometers each day, setting up their small village of two-person tents in a new camp each night. Then, in October, they did a sea kayak expedition near Grandes-Bergeronnes on the choppy waters of the St. Lawrence Estuary. The outing was a success despite an outdoor cooking… failure… involving dehydrated eggs and soggy bread. Will the other six let Yori and Bastien cook for the group again? Stay tuned: that remains to be seen! Their third expedition is coming up soon – a winter camping trek across the Vallée Bras-du-Nord.

Their capstone project in May will be a journey through Ecuador, a trip they are in the process of planning as you read these lines. After a few days of cultural immersion in the capital city of Quito, they will head out to the backcountry. A hiking expedition on the slopes of Chimborazo? Kayaking on the Pastaza River near Baños? I can’t wait to see what they come up with! Check out their Facebook and Instagram pages to follow their progress and cheer them on!

Photo credit, all photos: Viky Roy

17 thoughts on “Ecuador or bust!”

  1. What a great group you have here Neil.
    Makes you want to pack our bags and go with them.
    Sadly the years won’t let me.

  2. I was just thinking the other day about how great a tour you gave us and that I hadn’t seen an update for a bit. I’m not super adventurous but this group makes me want to be!!

  3. Great stuff, Neil. Are you a teacher in this program? It looks like a wonderful experience. As a former community college teacher, I would loved to have a similar experience. My question is how are students able to afford such an experience? Mine never could.

  4. Neil, In addition to being smart, curious, enthusiastic and fun, they appear to be extremely athletic! Those are no wimpy packs!

  5. These students seem very adventurers, what a pleasant and happy change for you. It will be nice to follow them on Facebook . Are you going to Ecuador with them? Francine

  6. So interesting! Thank you to share your enthusiasm with us!
    Obviously, this is very different of your old students. Have fun with all them.

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