Among the off-season contracts I accepted this year was a gig teaching English for adventure tourism and ecotourism. The Collège Mérici students who are taking the course are doing a one-year degree that prepares them to guide tourists in the great outdoors. They take classes in the arts and sciences necessary for braving the backcountry and explaining it to paying customers. They study outdoor cooking, first aid, small engine repair, and survival skills, as well as geology, geography, and meteorology. They also take English, to learn the vocabulary and turns of phrase needed to impart their expertise and knowledge to a non-French-speaking clientele.
There are fifteen of them in my class, and they are a fearless bunch. They are preparing for careers that will demand energy, calm, assertiveness, and patience all at the same time. No small measure of grit will also be needed as they lead their customers through conditions that would send most of us, whimpering, back to our living rooms. Before long, they will be leading canoe expeditions across the Northwest Territories, rock-climbing excursions on the Niagara Escarpment, and journeys over the Canadian Rockies. Oh, how I envy the adventures they have before them!
For their year-end project, they are heading across the country to British Columbia. There, they will trek through the evergreen forests of the Sunshine Coast Trail. They will hike the Copper Mine Trail on the south coast of Vancouver Island, taking in the view from the top of Mount Maguire. And they will spend four days in sea kayaks, exploring the bays and inlets of Desolation Sound and Okeover Arm, looking for seals and sea lions, porpoises, and killer whales.
Watch out, world. Here they come!
Leave a comment below to encourage them in their adventures. If you’d like to contribute to their British Columbia expedition, check out their GoFundMe page.
Cover photo credit: Viky Roy
End photo: Neil Schomaker