I love coming across stories that show teens being resourceful and inventive. This video showcases a group of teens who started a “bike to school” movement in their town. The kids in their club get up extra early and meet to bike to school together for both safety and educational reasons. While it isn’t particularly “wild”, it’s kids getting outside and pushing themselves to think about the environment and the world beyond their bedroom and classroom walls. Awesome.
The footage above is from an 2009, when Jaistemay Marquez, 17, became the youngest kayaker to run El Toro, a 25m waterfall in Mexico. For the most part, I think this falls into the category of, “Don’t try this at home, kids.” However, I intend to share this footage with my high school students because I think it is so important for them to know about teens who are out there performing at elite levels. Often it opens a discussion about what it takes to do a drop like El Toro without getting dead, or hike that tall mountain, or sail that boat solo around the world. I hear them say,”I could never do something like that.” To which I ask,”Why not?”
These kinds of extreme examples start conversations that sometimes end with the student coming back to me with a story about a kayaking lesson, or a trip to the local climbing gym. A few years ago, I took 26 11th graders on a camping trip; for many, it was their first time sleeping outside. At the end of the weekend, they were planning larger hikes and trips for the future. I hope one of them will climb Denali, or Everest someday, and think back to her first campout in a small clearing in the White Mountains. So I’ll rephrase my disclaimer to, “Don’t try THAT at home, but try something like it. Take a first step, kids.”
You may have heard of Jordon Romero-he’s the (then) 13 year old boy who summited Everest last May. He has a goal of summiting the highest mountains on each continent. So far, he’s racked up an impressive list of ascents in addition to Everest: Kilimanjaro at age 9, Elbrus and Aconcagua at 10, and Denali at 11. Now only one summit remains: Vinson Massif on Antarctica. He has faced criticism, most of which revolves around the idea that he is too young to attempt climbs at such altitudes, mainly because there is little research about the effects exposure to extreme altitudes has on children. I initially disapproved of it because I wondered if he was being pushed too hard by his parents, and was possibly in danger of being exploited by them. However, looking at his enthusiasm, it seems that he has grown to want this achievement very badly, and is the one pushing for the adventure to continue. I wish him luck.
So, I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus due to the birth of our baby boy, Liam, who arrived in early July. It’s been a crazy 5 weeks, but we are now settling into a routine that, happily, includes more writing time for Mom. We’ve been on a few adventures already, including some short hikes and trips to the beach. The Kid is pretty mellow as long as he has access to milk whenever and wherever he feels like it, and he has been falling asleep in his carrier on most of our little treks. Next weekend, we are heading out on our first camping trip as a family, and I’ll post about how we are preparing for this next big step.
In the meantime, I came across this reminder of how much we take for granted in the west. The Nepalese kids in this video travel for hours each day in order to go to school, and in the process must cross a dangerous river on a shoddy zipline. I have such respect and awe for the strength of their desire to learn and improve their own lives.