Hello Colegio Tilitá Families,

My name is Jalynn. Your kids call me Jal.  I am the owner of ALIVE Outdoors. I have the honour of writing the final blog for this trip.  I have spent the last 3 weeks with your children from the moment they arrived in Toronto until the moment they will head to the airport shortly.  I have watched them show up for polar bear dip every single morning with smiles on their faces, even when it was cold. I have watched them dig deep and find the courage to jump off the high tower into the depths of Teepee Lake. I have watched them learn how to paddle a canoe with grace, which is no easy feat! I have watched them persevere through countless challenges, such as climbing the rock wall, canoe tripping for 4 days throughout Algonquin Park (during bug season), traipsing through knee deep mud so we could check out a forest that was going through a period of regeneration after a recent forest fire… and the list could go on for days.  I have watched them reflect on their personal strengths, learn to listen more intently and to step into their independence.  They have done many things over this last while. Their days have been jam packed, and they have rallied every single time!

When I started ALIVE 22 years ago I was completely unaware of the magical moments that I would witness. I was young and naïve and did not fully appreciate how much of an honour it is to be part of a young person’s journey. All these years later, it’s not lost on me that this job of mine is one massive privilege!

Simply put, I am in awe of your children. They have embraced every activity we have offered them with joy and open minds.  They arrived seemingly understanding that this trip was a gift that they needed to soak in. Maybe the pandemic has created an even greater reverence for these kinds of experiences than before. 

We had a gratitude circle in the park not too long ago. Each of them were asked to share what they are grateful for from our shared time together and what learnings they are going to take home with them.  Many of them spoke about being grateful for new friendships, a newfound sense of independence, a feeling that they are more organized now, and how grateful they are to their school, their families, Juli, Juli and Dani, as well as all the ALIVE instructors for making this trip possible.    

I am thankful to you for your trust and your courageous decision to send your children on this journey. Even when all is well in the world, it takes a lot of faith to send your beloved kids out into the vast world to learn new things from people you don’t know.  Given the pandemic, and so much unrest in the world I think it takes even more faith and courage at this time. They say that it takes a village to raise a young person, and all of us at ALIVE Outdoors want to thank you for the privilege of sharing this time with your inspiring kids.

When you meet at the airport in the morning tomorrow, and you are driving home, it’s my hope that you are able to share in some of the many memories that have been made here in Canada. When you ask them about their trip, it’s my hope that you hear more than the typical – fine or good!  Once they have a rest, maybe you can pull up the photos, which can be found here at this link and share in all the beautiful small moments that made this time together so magical. https://www.aliveoutdoors.com/portfolio/colegio-tilata-grade-4-5-6-may-2022/

With immense gratitude and good wishes to you all.

Be well,

Jal