The taxi pulled up at 2am and a bleary eye bunch of expeditioners piled in.
The journey to Gatwick was quiet, a strange silence almost tinged with trepidation, we had already lost 1 of our number to a family emergency, so the remaining 4 set out to complete the planned expedition.
We were heading to Northern Sweden to canoe a section of the River Harkan, we didn’t know what to expect, the pre expedition nerves seemed to punctuate the silence of that short taxi ride.
For me the trepidation was exaggerated as one of the party was my 15 year old son, Robert, heading of with us on his first overseas expedition.
What was he feeling, what thoughts and excitement was running through his mind as he awaited this experience, were his nerves anything like mine?
I have never been one to force my life and career choices onto my children, the option has always been there and at this point this growing young adult wanted to be part of this expedition. He is an experienced canoeist with an easy but level headed persona, someone who is calm and inquisitive, yet knowledgeable for his age. A product of his time, but starting to take those bigger steps as he develops into an adult, pushing his physical and mental boundaries.
I work a lot with young people and I love being part of educational and developmental expeditions, but this was going to be a little different, Robert is part of this team, he has worked his apprenticeship, learnt how to navigate, and canoe, completed his Duke of Edinburgh Award, roughed it in tents and developed his Camp craft, he will have to fit in and earn his place on this team. Already, as we make out way North through Sweden he has shown how he can make decisions, share the load and join the conversations of those older and more experienced than him.
This summer I have had the opportunity to take all my children off on overseas trips, my youngest had spent two weeks travelling with my wife and I through France, learning about the Normandy landings, even camping on the cliffs above Omaha Beach, then on to the Bayeux Tapestry, before heading South to enjoy the sun and rest on the beaches and by the pools of an amazing little island called Ill de Re, just off the coast of La Rochelle. We finished our French sojourn in Paris, introducing them to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumph!
Watching my children exploring the world has really opened my eyes this year, I have seen them attempt to speak in another language, look in awe at an osprey catching a fish, enjoy French crepes, Swedish meatballs and the infamous Orangina! They grew in confidence, made new friends, visited unique places and challenged themselves outside their comfort zones!!
After all these years travelling and exploring, introducing hundreds of others to the world, truly believing that outdoor learning, expeditions and travel can make life changing impressions on people, I have finally started my own children’s journey.