Christie Lake Climb for Kids Takes Off!

So Climb for Kids is going to happen!

After months of planning, talking and promoting we have the 16 people we need to allow this project to take off.

Last week four more people signed on to the expedition and the entire group met for the first time at our house. This is a great group of positive people who are excited to take part in a great adventure and raise money for an organization that is actively working to change the lives of children living in poverty here in Ottawa.

All of our participants have their Canada Helps pages up and running and all have pledged to raise at least $1000.00 for Christie Lake Kids. I think they will all surpass this goal and some members have already done so.

We have group fundraisers coming up, the first one will take place on March 23 at Fatboys in the Ottawa Market. The second one will be in May.

We begin to train as a group this week and this is something that we will continue to work on together right up until the summer. This will be a tough trek at high altitude. All participants will need to be in excellent physical shape.

We are now looking into corporate sponsorship. There is a really important story to tell here and we need to have the means to do this. This will not just be the story of climbing to Ausangate, it will be the story about how Christie Lake Kids is actively engaged in changing the lives of children every day.

Rainy day ball hockey

There will be lots to write about here. It is wonderful to be working with such a positive organization that is truly committed to bringing about change in the lives of young people.

We really hope that Climb for Kids attracts donors, supporters and sponsors. Now we totally expect that this will be the first year in a project that will continue to support social transformation in the years to come.

During our first gathering, several people talked about places they would like to trek to in the years to come.

We are going to Peru this year. Where do you want to go after that?

Believe in Something Bigger Than Yourself

I just listened to Joe Biden on CNN this morning. Really powerful interview. He is an intriguing person. A career politician and possibly a presidential candidate in 2020. Of course, he can get into the political fray just like any other politician, but there is something different about him and his recent political memoir, Promise Me Dad.

Grief changes you and he has had more than his fair share in life. In 1972, soon after being elected to the Senate, his wife and 13-month old daughter were killed in a car accident. In 2015, his oldest son, Beau, died of a brain tumour.

His interviews have a cut wretching honesty that we seldom hear. As a public figure, he is known as someone who reaches out to people who have gone through tragedy.  This is something he knows a great deal about.

There are some important lessons here. First, he talks a lot about his son. Beau was someone who was always positive. We hear how important this is all the time, but how many of us really live this? Beau’s relationship with his father was obviously something very special.  The title of the book comes from a conversation he had with his son where he urged his father to run for the presidency all at a time when he was dying from cancer.

Joe Biden with his sons Hunter left, and Beau, in the early 1970s.
Credit via Joe Biden

It seems to me that people who have gone through the strainer of personal grief or tragedy somehow can see life differently. There needs to be more to live for, especially when you are living with the reminder of your own story.

Today, Joe Biden responded to one of the interview questions with this line:

If you don’t believe in something bigger than yourself you will never be happy

Pretty powerful.
This helps to reflect on some of the interchanges I have had with people this past week.
It has been a big week. We have now started fundraising for our Climb for Kids! project and this is always a challenge. Asking people for money really opens you up in ways that can be uncomfortable. One person, for whom in the past we have done lots of volunteer work for asked not to receive any of my emails about the campaign because ‘it doesn’t involve me in any way’. Another person chose this week to call me out for a note I had sent him around the time of my father’s death. It wasn’t a note I am proud of, but I wasn’t really at my best.
I mention these interactions because the negative can have such a profound impact. Most times it would be much better to remain positive or just keep certain comments to one’s self. We all do better if we can get out of our own petty worlds and just believe in something bigger than ourselves.
So as the week went on I looked back on the comments of supporters from last year’s fundraising climb to Mt. Kilimanjaro. These notes are positive and so affirming and they celebrate the attempt to be something bigger. Sometimes when confronted with the negative it is so much better to seek out the positive.
I was really struck by Joe Biden’s interview today. I was taken by the way this man takes solace and strength from his family as I do. I was encouraged by his and his son’s determination to look to the positive.
A son’s affirmation of the father is a powerful message. I have that and those who can’t see beyond themselves will just have to take the back seat.

A Virtual Tour of the Ausangate Region – Climb for Kids!

Welcome to Rainbow Mountain Cusco Journey through an undiscovered land of wild desert landscapes, snow capped peaks, herds of alpaca, and arrive at the ultimate destination – The “Rainbow Mountain” hidden deep in the Andes. Throughout your journey you will pass through a vibrant green valley with the impressive Ausangate mountain towering in the distance. You will experience first hand how locals live in the mountains and even have a chance to speak with them. As you get closer to the Rainbow Mountain you will begin to see the first signs of the colored minerals that formed the painted hills. Your guide will explain what makes up the existence of the “Rainbow Mountain”, and finally with one last push you will hike up to a vantage point that gives you a 360 degree view of the beautiful landscape that makes up this sacred land.

Trip Advisor

For the past week, I have been featuring photos that I received from the wonderful people at Merit Travel, the people who are organizing our Christie Lake Climb for Kids! adventure planned for August 2018.

The photos are truly amazing and most are shots that I can’t find anywhere else. Even the locations like this shot of the Red Sand Pass are unsearchable on Google. To me, this is a good thing. It shows how remote this area is. Even a recent Netflix documentary we watched called Peru: Tesoro Escondido had no mention of Ausangate or the Rainbow Mountains.

We are certainly trekking into territory that is remote and obscure. That is great!

I have also found some amazing 360 images on Google Earth using a feature I didn’t know anything about called Photo Sphere. Take a look at the Google Earth shot of Ausangate Mountain below – each of the blue dots are Photo Sphere shots taken around the mountain. The shots are spectacular and all are done in 360. They make up a beautiful virtual tour of the Ausangate region.

The arrows point out some of the Google Photo Sphere shots.


Here is one of the Photo Sphere shots. Unfortunately, I can’t make it 360 in this post.

I would give this a try. While this is a remote area, there are easily 30 360 images you can take a look at that are most likely a part of our upcoming trek.

A great way to dream away wintery days!

Climb for Kids! Today’s photo – do you see yourself here??

Nevado del Inka

I am continuing to post photos from the Ausangate region of Peru. This is the area we will be travelling in during the Climb for Kids! trek in August, 2018. There is also lots written about these treks so I am including snippets of what I am reading along with the photos.

This is a very exciting enterprise and we are now four spots away from having a complete group. If you love what you are seeing and reading maybe you should be coming with us!

As we approach the reddish sandy formations of the Nevado del Inca, the impressive views of the glacier on the southern side of Apu will inspire us as we hike.

Today we will enjoy one of the most spectacular parts of our trail, leading us through mountain scenery with multicoloured strata, featuring reds, yellows, ochres, greys, blues, etc. This stretch is an excellent opportunity to study these geological wonders and admire the unique beauty of the landscape. It is also the ideal place to observe the gracious wild vicuñas that can often be found in these isolated spots.

excerpts from Camino del Apu Ausangate

The Huampococha Tambo (Tambo means ‘resting place in Quechua) occupies a magical location, at an altitude of 4,800 m.a.s.l. (15,748 ft.). This lodge offers a panoramic view towards one of the most beautiful landscapes which encompasses the lagoon that bears the same name, and the snow-capped Mount of the Inca, meanwhile it rests at the foot of the Apu Callecalle´s foothills.

from Andean Lodges

These pictures continue to speak for themselves. The more of these I see the more exciting it gets to realize that we will be trekking through this beautiful countryside in just a few months.

a photo from the same region as the first picture. Imagine starting your day with this view!

Remember – now only four spots left!

Climb for Kids – A photo per day!

I just received some stunning photos of the area we will be going to this summer in Peru. They are too good to keep to myself so I am going to start posting some on this blog.

As I post more photos, this edition of the blog will get better and better. Maybe we will even pick up the four or five additional climbers we need to get this terrific adventure going!

Here is today’s photo:

The Ausangate trekking circuit goes through some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Cusco region. The five or six days of this itinerary goes around the Ausangate Mountain –  Awsanqati in Quechua – along with hot springs, and pristine turquoise blue and red lakes.

OK, maybe a second photo

Our first Lodge is located in the Uyuni Pampa, at an altitude of 4,368 m.a.s.l. (14,331 ft.). It is a valley with meadows, furrowed by the ice-cold waters of the Quencomayo River, and a grazing place for a great number of alpacas from the community of Chillca. From the lodge, there is a privileged view of the snow-capped Mount Jatun Jampa; an Apu (Sacred Mountain) visible at the end of the valley.


More to come!

Christie Lake Climb for Kids – Looking for You!



We are now on the final push to complete our climbing team for our 2018 trek.

You may be interested or you might want to let others know, especially at your own schools.

We are organizing a trek through the Ausangate region of Peru – the Rainbow Mountains – for August of this year. It represents a great personal challenge and opportunity, and also a means of raising money for one of our favourite organizations, Christie Lake Kids. We are hoping that “Climb for Kids” will be a regular event through the years. It is one way for us to give back to an organization that has done so much for our own children and community kids we have taught. Our son, Liam, has just been appointed Assistant Director of the organization.

Especially if you are in elementary school you probably have kids who benefit from Christie Lake programming here in Ottawa.

Trekkers will pay their own expenses and will participate in reasonable, individual fundraising and in two community pub parties, largely organized by Christie Lake. Some proceeds from these community fundraisers will go toward trekkers’ travel costs. We are providing training and access to discounts at an outdoor/expedition shop.

We have a Facebook page, Christie Lake Climb for Kids, and lots of info. I have included an attachment with the basic information and a wonderful video from a recent traveller. For anyone interested, there is an info. session/dinner at our place on February 8th.

Have a great weekend and thanks for listening,




Why Not You?

Why not you?

We are working towards achieving our goal of forming a group of 16 climbers for the first Christie Lake Climb for Kids. With a group of 16 and a funding goal of $1000.00 per climber, we plan on raising $16,000.00 for Christie Lake Kids.

It goes beyond this. If we are able to get a full group, there is every chance of making this a part of the regular Christie Lake schedule of wonderful community fundraisers. The group fundraising goal will rise and the donations will accumulate as more people see the great opportunity to give back and make adventure a part of their lives.

To get to this point we need to get this first group off the ground. We currently have nine climbers. All the climbers are connected in some way. These personal connections are really important. Very few people will take on a challenge like this unless they have a friend to share the experience.

So we need some help filling the last few spots. We actually need only to fill six more. We are hoping to have the final spot filled by a filmmaker who will document the whole journey with us.

We have a fundraising site almost ready to go. It will be run through Canada Helps a great organization that supports over charities across the country.

Our goal for each fundraiser is $1000.00, but I think friends of climbers will be inspired to donate well beyond this amount. A climb to 5200 m is a significant mental and physical challenge.

You may be reading this and say, this is not for me, or I am already committed for 2018. No worries! However, do you know of someone else who this might be perfect for?

Some of the best opportunities come when someone taps us on the shoulder and asks us to try something outside our comfort zone.

So, this may not be for you right now, but is it right for someone else? Think about that for a minute, this may be the day to open up an opportunity for a friend.

Halfway to the Rainbow Mountain Christie Lake Climb for Kids!

We are getting closer!

Today, we signed up our eighth climber, we are now halfway to getting our group of 16 climbers for our first Christie lake Climb for Kids!

This is something we have been working for. A team of 16 climbers, an eleven-day excursion to The Rainbow Mountains of Ausangate. An opportunity to raise funds for Christie Lake Kids and their transformative recreation programs.

This what Christie Lake Kids is all about and this is why our group will be climbing in Peru:

All kids deserve a safe, healthy childhood.

All kids deserve the opportunity to learn, to achieve, and to succeed.

Teaching skills of all kinds not only builds those particular skills; it also builds self-esteem, social skills, and other positive qualities.

Children from low-income families deserve the same recreational and skill-development opportunities as other children.

Caring for children and youth is not just a private issue; it is a collective responsibility.

from CLK Basic Principles

Now we are assembling the elements of our first expedition. Our fundraising page will be ready soon. Each climber will have their own individual page so they can solicit donations from friends and followers, the proceeds will go directly to Christie Lake programming.

We will be climbing as high as 5200 meters – this is a really challenging physical and mental endeavour. To make sure we are successful, we will be training as a group. We are planning to work with Canadian Strength Institute here in Ottawa to develop a group fitness plan. This is essential, for a climb as high as this, people will need to be in excellent shape.

We will plan a series of fundraising events this spring to bring people together who want to help support the climb. These events will be great ways to learn more about the climb and celebrate with this year’s group.

We are also working with Great Escape Outfitters to help us with our gear selection. To complete our team, Merit Travel is planning the trip to Peru and booking our flights. You can’t do a trip like this without great partners and we are certainly in good hands.

What’s next? We would like to fill up the group as soon as this Christmas. As soon as this is done we will be able to launch our group fundraising page. By the new year, we should be able to start training as a group.

This is a really exciting venture. We have great partners and we as a group will be starting something brand new here in Ottawa. I am very excited about the group we have now and its just going to get better!  The idea of taking part in a group adventure to raise funds for a very worthwhile organization is exciting and something worth training hard for.

In the months ahead there will be more updates as the group grows and trains together. You will all be invited to our fundraising events and all the members of our team will be introduced here on this blog.

So, if you are interested in taking part in this great adventure, you need to sign up soon. The way things are going the last eight spots will be going soon!

Talking Nationally About Violence in the Schools and Looking for Solutions

Cross-country Checkup is a good way to measure what issues are of interest to Canadians every week. This CBC show has been on for many years and it has always been a good barometer of public opinion. This week, the topic is violence in the schools and the danger staff face on a regular basis.

This became a public issue last week when an Ottawa teacher went public with a violent incident that ended his teaching career.

One issue that is being brought up this afternoon is the very dangerous situation educational assistants (EAs) find themselves every day. While I don’t know many teachers who have been injured on the job, I regularly witnessed EAs being injured. They were also verbally abused by students and parents and were seldom able to seek any recourse for what happened to them.

Is this a systemic problem? Why are we hearing so much about this now that a floodgate has been opened?

I think it comes down to an overemphasis on individual rights over collective rights. When I suspended students, it was to protect the collective. The individual had lost the right to be part of the school community, therefore they were suspended. I used this line with parents and it (of course) was not appreciated. However, suspension, especially starting in grade 7 was an effective tool and I hope high school vice principals are still able to use it. Our job was to protect staff and students. 

On the other hand, you could say that ejecting a student doesn’t solve anything. Suspension is a necessary sanction, but what is happening that leads to behaviours that lead to a suspension?

Education is an incredibly labour-intensive field. Typically, when governments want to save money on education there is only one way to do this, staff gets cut or the necessary staff are not hired.

From my perspective as an administrator, the best way to assist children, especially those with emotional or mental health issues is to have enough staff in the building to care for these students. This means more EAs, more social workers, and more in-school therapists.

The conversation continued long after the show and it included tweets like this:

Obviously, we didn’t reach any conclusions, but it is an important discussion.

I let this post sit for a few days. It is a sad topic and it is really hard to find the positives. Then last night, I attended the information meeting for a new fundraising program we are starting – Christie Lake Climb for Kids! I have written about this before on this blog. It’s an exciting opportunity and I hope we get 16 participants for this first expedition.

a reason for hope – our Christie Lake Kids meeting last night

What was really refreshing for me last night was the presentation on Christie Lake Kids. This program offers a wide variety of recreational services for low-income kids. They run a terrific summer camp along with programming throughout the year including cooking classes, a fully funded hockey team and a whole variety of after-school programs in some of the most challenging neighbourhoods here in Ottawa.

I think I needed to be reminded that while we have some really challenging problems in our schools, there are some really forward-thinking organizations like Christie Lake that are offering solutions.

More suspensions and more blame will not ease the problems of violence in our schools. Progressive recreational programming like Christie Lake will offer solutions that at least will address some of the challenges we are facing in our schools.

It has been an interesting week. Lots of discussion on how we are facing a crisis in our schools and one really positive way to find a solution that really helps kids.

For my part, I want to focus on some progressive solutions. I hope others do too!

Christie Lake Climb For Kids! Join the Adventure!

Our official logo for Christie Lake Climb for Kids!


This is a great day and the start of a new adventure.
We are very happy to announce that the Christie Lake Climb For Kids fundraising trek is now ready to sign up participants.
The August 2018 trek will be taking place in Peru, starting in Cusco and will head towards Ausangate Mountain. The trek reaches an altitude of 5200 m which is a real mental and physical challenge. Are you interested in a big challenge?

Each participant on this expedition will be asked to raise money for Christie Lake Kids, a wonderful organization in Ottawa that provides recreation opportunities for low-income children throughout the year.
The trip is being planned and coordinated by Merit Travel here in Ottawa.
Christie Lake will provide each participant with their own fundraising page and will help each team member to raise money throughout the upcoming year. This is really a big community fundraising event that will take Christie Lake all the way to Peru.

A full itinerary is available here along with a booking form for those who are interested in signing up. We will be taking 16 people and to reserve your spot, you need to complete the form and make a $500.00 deposit. You can contact Darren Prashad at Merit Travel to secure your spot he can be reached at

We are planning an information meeting for mid-November to go over all the details and to introduce people to the personal training group we plan to use to get everyone in great shape for the trip!

You can now sign up for the information meeting here. The meeting will take place on November 20th at 6:30 PM at Great Escape Outfitters 369 Richmond Road in Ottawa.

This will be a terrific adventure and a unique way to give back to a wonderful organization. Having done one of these trips to Mt. Kilimanjaro last April, I know this is a great way to help others and yourself at the same time.

 If you can’t go but would like to help with the fundraising, I will share our fundraising page once this is up.

Looking forward to a great year and a terrific climb!