When I was fourteen, I visited the Educo Adventure School as a student with my class, attending as part of the school program for a day-long experience. We travelled from Clinton via school bus, spent some time playing games at the Educo site, and of course, completed the high ropes course amongst the treetops.
The field trip was a highlight of our school year, and we came away impressed. Yet, somehow, I had no idea that I’d only just begun to scratch the surface of all that Educo really has to offer.
A decade later, I had the opportunity to visit the Educo site as an adult, experiencing far more than I had during my first time there. If I have learned anything from the experience, it is that at Educo, everything is an epic adventure.
I started Friday, July 12, with a bit of trepidation, I’ll admit. Today would be a big day. I was scheduled to head out for some exploration in nature, which is a place I’m very comfortable, and yet I felt a bit ill that morning. I was also missing my co-worker, Millar, who had planned to visit Educo with me. Unfortunately, those plans hit a bit of a roadblock. Life happens sometimes, even to journalists.
Nonetheless, I happily set off on the dirt road that leads out to the Educo site. There’s nothing like a bit of country air to ease your nerves, and as I got closer to my destination, and farther away from cell service and the rest of humanity, I started to relax. The sun was shining after what felt like endless days of rain in the South Cariboo, and I was beginning to think this might be a pretty amazing day.
A deer greeted me in the Educo driveway, along with many birds, and of course, a squirrel or two. I was greeted next by Kash Izydorczyk, Educo’s Program Director.
She outlined the day’s scheduling, and I quickly realized that there was a lot more in store for me than I had anticipated. Challenge accepted. I couldn’t wait to get started.
Walking out to the bush with Educo’s Program Manager, Fabricio “Fab” Arguedas, we had plenty of time to talk. Arguedas spent recent years in Asia and is actually visiting Canada for the first time while working at Educo. Together, we navigated the forest path to Beaver Creek, walking just over fifteen minutes into the backwoods, and picking a few wild strawberries along the way.
We passed a meadow, a gravel pit, and climbed a small hill overlooking a lake, before we finally arrived at our destination. Bidding farewell to my new friend, the next step in my adventure included a creek quest with the Beetle Queen, Brigid Mueller, who is a former student and first-time staff volunteer at Educo.
I call it a quest because according to the queen, I had to prove my worth in the forest, just as the visiting school children did, paddling over a succession of beaver dams through a narrow passage lined with lily-pads to reach the open water of Little Holden Lake. It was no walk in the park, but it sure was fun, and I didn’t mind getting my feet wet.
The trip took just under an hour to complete and was unlike any other canoeing experience I have gained previously.
Paddling through a narrow waterway is an entirely unique experience, quite different from paddling on a lake or in open water. We crossed many beaver dams in Beaver Creek, stopping to hop out and pull the canoe across the mud and sticks before continuing on our way. Wildlife surrounded us as the outside world faded out of thought. It truly was an adventure, and I am still in awe of all we encountered.
Later that day, after a communal lunch, Fab and Dean Oshanek, Educo’s Site Manager, took me out for a private adventure on the high ropes course. This is something I did experience the first time around, but giving it a go this year was completely different.
With the two men’s expertise and encouragement, I whizzed through the course, tackling challenge after challenge despite each section’s increasing difficulty. I was given the choice to complete the whole course or just the “easy stuff”. Maybe it was their company, or maybe it was the special bandana that Arguedas let me borrow to keep my hair back under the helmet, but somehow my fear wasn’t in control anymore. I felt strong and fearless, something that doesn’t always come easily to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still afraid of heights, and there was a whole lot of sweating and shaking going on, at some points. But up in the treetops, with the help of two new friends, my fear wasn’t in control anymore. I was.
And somewhere between climbing high and holding on for dear life, I let my worries go. It didn’t feel difficult anymore or totally panic-inducing. It just felt like another task I could conquer if I set my mind to it. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to remind myself of that.