Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 Arctic - Day 1: Winnipeg to Ottawa

Me looking BADASS with a radio! Copy that!
Hello friends!

Well, I'm not sure how many of you are actually looking at this, considering I haven't written an entry in three years. So why am I back? As I type this, I'm a few hours away from departing on my EIGHTH Students On Ice Arctic Expedition! That's right, eight. I can hardly believe it myself. I'm so grateful that the organization, and Geoff Green especially, knows I can make a worthwhile contribution to the expeditions and brings me along.

But I guess the better answer to why I am back blogging is because I found it a great way to record my thoughts and memories of these great experiences, and I've felt less... complete (??)...  in the past few years when I haven't done them. Now, having said that, I can't make any promises that I will be able to keep it up all expedition, or even more than just this one blog. My role with SOI has expanded greatly in the past three years, and finding the time to sit and write a blog entry is increasing challenging during the long and usually exhausting days. There's also a question of access to internet to post the blog, but there are ways around that.

So be aware, blog readers, this may be my only entry. LOL!

What has changed with SOI since I last blogged? Well, a lot. The organization has grown immensely. There have been a couple of key changes in the core team. As mentioned, Geoff is still CEO and Expedition Leader. But the Education and Logistics Managers have changed, both for this year. Those are two key positions, and under other circumstances, I would be worried. But I had a chance to meet with Scott and Jenn a few weeks back when we road-tripped to Quebec City to take some qayaqs to our floating classroom, the Ocean Endeavor (I'll explain that in a future blog hopefully). And I can say with 100% confidence that we are in good hands with them. But not only that, they are all part of an amazing  team at SOI HQ that has grown much larger in size, to the point that they had to expand their offices! Every one of them are an integral cog in the wheel that makes these expeditions go smoothly, and it's awe-inspiring to watch them work and play a small part in helping them. There are even some interns who are former students from previous expeditions!

And the size of the expedition team has also expanded. We now have 120 students coming each year and they include a few university-level students as well. The staff team is up to 80, including some incredible people - too long to list, go to the SOI website to check them out - I'll also tell you about them in future blogs. I can tell you that U.S. Ambassador to Canada, and his wife, are coming. And, he isn't listed yet on the website, so maybe I shouldn't mention it here - but there is royalty coming. I kid you not.

As usual, I'm most excited for the dynamic that will result from putting all 200 of these diverse and unique personalities together on our floating classroom, the Ocean Endeavor. I'm hoping to blog about them as much as possible over the next few weeks. We have a truly international group, with students from China, Malaysia, Greenland, India, France, Monaco, the U.S. and of course, almost all the provinces and territories of Canada. I can't wait to meet them, and in fact, I will be doing so right as soon as I land in Ottawa - two students are arriving a couple of hours after I do.

So a lot of changes with SOI - and a lot of changes with myself in recent months. Maybe that's the biggest reason I'm writing a blog again. Not to sound too cliche, but I'm hoping to get a little grounded and center myself during this year's expedition. The changes I'm going through have been stressful, to say the least, and the remainder of 2016 looks to be filled with challenges. I might go into detail about them in a later blog, but needless to say, I'm hoping that the expedition will give me that injection of strength to power me through these troubled times.

And the adventure... continues. Come along with me!

Here's a link to the expedition website:

And here's a video I did to introduce myself to students:

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