Wanted: Mentors for the Journey

I get most of my good education content from VoicEd Radio. There’s a good reason for this. I no longer work in a school, and even if I did, there would be no way to gather up the diversity of opinion that I find on the VoicEd Radio podcasts. Working within a school board certainly does not open you up to a variety of ways of looking at issues.

This week I listened to one of the banner shows on VoicEd Radio – ONedMentors. They were grappling with the question of how you define mentorship. This is not something I think about these days. I am a retired educator, what would I have to do with mentorship? 

An interesting thing happens when you retire. Your opinion has less value. I can think of many people and organizations that valued what I had to say when I was a principal. When you leave that job, many leave you.

What I have failed to consider is that retirement can turn you into a mentee. I am not offering my opinions and advice very much these days, but I need new information, I need to learn once again from others.

Retirement allows you to try new experiences and start the learning journey all over again. If you let yourself, you can take new risks and you can really open yourself up to learn from others.

Now I am interested in mentors to help me learn about digital radio and podcasting, trekking and climbing, and photography! These are all new passions that I simply didn’t have time for when I was working in a school.

Getting back to the original question – what is mentorship? I think the definition is simple – mentorship is all about connecting to life-long learning – we naturally seek out mentors as we move into new areas that we are not comfortable in – so we seek ideas and help.

When you put yourself in risky situations, and by that I mean new learning you are forced to grow and seek out others who can help you out. Along with the great podcast, a few of us followed along on Twitter.

New can be scary – new means taking a risk and it is OK to acknowledge that this is a challenge and can sometimes be scary. Try doing something really new and really scary – once you do that you will seek mentors.

I have a whole new group of mentors now. I am learning about digital broadcasting, I am following a tough physical training program for the first time in my life. I am committed to taking on high-altitude climbs and I really need to get better at documenting these trips. 

The people who are helping me probably do not see themselves as mentors, but they are. They are leading me in new ways and I am very grateful to them.

So, the risks and discomfort are worth it. It is Ok to say you don’t know, even at 60. So, take a risk, get a mentor and learn something new – it is never too late!

Our next big trek is the Tour de Mont Blanc for Christie lake Kids, July 2019
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Educators really need to be more political

I would love to work with these guys. They are political and that is something unique. They are honest and they are really brave.

I saw Andrew Campbell’s tweet earlier today and I knew I was going to write about it. This is something that bothers me. We are in a unique and dangerous time in our world. We have a totally dangerous demagogue in Donald Trump and now in Ontario, we have a  ‘mini-me’ in Doug Ford.

Peter Cameron speaks out. He is bold in his criticism of standardized testing and he promotes a new form of education that supports the values and ideas of indigenous peoples in Canada. He is an activist.

Andrew Campbell was writing every day about the absurd changes that are happening in Ontario. He chronicled the growing dissent of school boards against changes to the physical and health education curriculum in this province. He was a lone, strong voice.

Yes, these are dangerous times and most educators are doing very little. Am I missing something? Are there more voices?

This summer while trekking in Peru, I had a chance to have a good long conversation with a wonderful educator I worked with at my last school. She was from the Balkans when she was younger and saw the destruction that took place in Bosnia in the 1990’s.

What really struck me was what she said about how people reacted to the growing strident language coming from politicians. They didn’t get involved. They didn’t vote, they let things go. Nothing bad could ever happen, right?

Are we in a similar situation here? Do we just not react? Do we see any political comment as beyond the pale? Are we a little too meek?

It might be easy to criticize me for writing this now – I am retired and am beyond reach. But I did make comments while I was a part of the system. I usually got in trouble, but I did say something. It didn’t seem like I had a choice. I was more than a little surprised that I did get in trouble. When I made public comments about student drug use in the schools or the Catholic bishops of Canada I wasn’t making things up.

Truth hurts I guess.

So, like Andrew Campbell, I don’t get it. Teachers on social media you are doing all of us a disservice. I hate to say this, but there is a problem with your silence.

My background is history. We have all heard the tired old statement, if you don’t learn from history you are doomed to repeat.

Well, it’s true and educators need to step up.

Choose your issue – it’s not like there is a vacuum out there. But choose your issue and speak up. You have the best platform ever and you shouldn’t leave it up to Peter and Andrew. 

You really can leave your branding alone for a while and speak from the heart. We will all be encouraged when you finally do. And we are waiting for you.

Where do the trails lead you?

I am reading about trails. Robert Moor has written a magical book called On Trails An Exploration

This is an interesting book – trails are different from paths, ‘trails tend to form in reverse, messily, from the passage of dirty feet.’ (page 68 On Trails) It has got me thinking.

Trails are where we find something magical. The trail through giant ancient plants on Kilimanjaro. The feral goat who looks down on you on the West Highland Way, the ghostly llama as darkness gathers.

Trails also lead to friends, new and old, sometimes family and loved ones too.

On trails you make friends, but more importantly, you learn to depend on others

Trails draw you into a new life and once you walk the trail you are really part of the trail. 

You don’t go once, you go again.

Climbing up Mt. Kilimanjaro

Because of those who walked the trails before I now am hooked. I dream about old trails – can I do them better, can I experience more, can I test myself in some other fashion. The trail takes on dreams and the dreams make me want to push on do more, learn more, experience more.

The pathways are not just pathways. When I walk, I need to do it for another reason too. There are two reasons that I have figured out so far. To help in some way children in poverty and to connect to my family.

The West Highland Way

For me, working for children is a matter of social justice. I walk, raise money and then support programs that actually can break the cycle of poverty. That is why I can only walk for Christie Lake Kids – the cycle can be broken, but it takes innovation and a huge community effort. I want to be part of that effort.

Second – connecting to my family is what I want to do. I am 60 years old. I don’t have to worry about making an impact or being successful in my job. I am happily beyond that. But I do need to reach out to my partner and my children in important ways. So, I need to take the path with them.

Last year I walked with my daughter. This summer I trekked with my partner. In a few weeks, I will hike with my son.

If I am going to do something like this it has to be for kids, social justice or family.

There are, I hope many more trails and many more wonderful people to meet as we raise money and awareness. In between treks for Christie Lake Kids, I will walk with my family – all of them.

This is where the trail will lead.

Towards nightfall with Christie Lake Climb for Kids

Climbing again for Christie Lake Kids – Tour de Mont Blanc

Our first poster for Year II Climb for Kids!

Year I is done. We are back from the Ausangate Range after an epic trek through the Peruvian Andes. We raised more than $28,000 and most of our group are now back to their regular routines as they process the impact of a truly memorable experience.

the group takes a break on the way to Ausangate

It is always interesting to decide when it is time to move on from one experience to start something new. For me, this is the time. This week, we signed off on Year II of Climb for Kids and we are back into the cycle of recruiting trekkers, social media announcements, training and a new launch.

While I don’t want to let go of this first trek through those beautiful mountains, it is time to turn to a new destination. Now we are preparing for Year II and the Tour de Mont Blanc.

The Tour de Mont Blanc will be a different type of trek, which is a great reason for doing this. A really different challenge. The trek is in the moderate to high altitude zone, but not the very high altitude zone (4500m-5000m) we experienced during the Ausangate climb. We will be walking over 170 km around the Mont Blanc Massif travelling through three countries and camping all the way. I think this makes for a great second adventure for Christie Lake Climb for Kids. As one article puts it, “More of a shrine to the Alps than a simple walk in the mountains, the TMB is the definition of a Bucket List Hike.”

So, the training starts again. We will probably do more long-distance walking this time to get ready for the long days. This is one of the many attractions to taking on a new adventure every year. We are in a constant cycle of training. Every day we have to consider what we can do to prepare for the next challenge.

Of equal importance is the money we will continue to raise for Christie Lake Kids. Christie Lake is all about transforming the lives of lower-income kids throughout the year. We wouldn’t be doing this unless we could make a contribution and a difference in the lives of children. For this reason, most of the climbers who signed on last year were either educators or connected in some way to programming for children.

This is also all about building a community. Last year, I had 29 supporters who helped me raise $2100.00. Each climber can talk about similar numbers. Together, we raised over $28,000 and put on two great fundraising socials with lots of silent auction and corporate sponsors. This community will grow this year. We will attract new sponsors and new climbers. The positive energy will expand this great social venture! 

This is what makes Climb for Kids such a great opportunity for growth. We transform ourselves by training, fundraising and climbing. We help transform the lives of children by rallying people to give to a really important cause.

So now we need 14 people to sign up for a great adventure. The new group will have some great experiences together. We will work with each other for a year and we will challenge ourselves in ways that are difficult to imagine.

Adventure and committing to helping others transforms. Helping others gives us an important new focus. If you want to do something truly wonderful this year, join us!

Here is what you need to know:

The Booking Form can be downloaded here

The full itinerary is here

TRIP COST: $3525.00CAD
DEPOST DUE AMOUNT UPON BOOKING: $500CAD

This does not include insurance (mandatory) or flight.