My Fearless Fifteen

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

18 thoughts on “My Fearless Fifteen”

  1. Vincent Mc Donagh

    Some great photos.
    Very envious, now that high insurance – due to illness and old age – prevents us from crossing the Atlantic.
    Keep up the good work.
    Vince Mc Donagh

  2. François Monet

    And in twenty years they’ll be on the moon guiding tourists along cliffs, walking down into valleys, exploring caverns…

  3. WoW, quel beau projet de vie! Je vous envie! Je vous félicite tous pour ce merveilleux choix de carrière! Ne lâchez pas!

  4. Richard Couturier

    Lucky you guys! I wish I could go back a few years and join you. You are in for a life of adventures, have fun!
    Congratulations for making your dreams come true!!!

  5. Bobbie Tallmon

    Enjoy your trek across beautiful British Columbia. I have been up there numerous times visiting family. The breathtaking views and the many cultures make British Columbia an exquisite place to visit.
    Blessings to all,
    Bobbie

  6. Hi Neil,

    I’ll also go on the west coast of Vancouver Island, end of May… It’ll be the 2nd time I’ll visit this so beautiful area of our country. I’m sure they’ll live a wonderful experience as landscapes are simply gorgeous. I wish them a lot of fun. Nevertheless, they must always be careful…as bears are never very far !!

  7. Awesome !! What an exciting adventure they are beginning. And I’m sure you also had plenty of fun teaching them.

  8. This seems like an amazing program! These students are being prepared for adventures of a lifetime. I wish them all well. I’m jealous!

  9. Having visited Vancouver Island (staying in Telegraph Cove) in 1988 and enjoyed killer whale watching from a perch overlooking Johnstone Straight and from a whale watching boat, I’m especially envious of their upcoming adventures on the Island.

    Sam Sperry

  10. Dominique BOURQUI

    Fantastique évolution et surtout une exploration vers l’ouest. Tous ces jeune sont vraiment choyés. C’est un rêve pour beaucoup et une réalité pour l’avenir. Bonne chance et bonne route.
    Belles découvertes et beau parcours.
    Félicitations et bonne continuation
    Neil Shomaker

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