For the Love of Summer…
When I moved across the country from my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia to attend UVic last September, I assured my family that I would be back home for the summer. And believe me, I had every intention to follow through with that promise. However, the one variable that I neglected to consider was the unpredictable and overwhelming power of love.
Over the course of my academic year spent in Victoria, I fell intensely in love with the West Coast. I fell in love with its majestic mountains, and its coastal islands, and its temperate rainforests.
I fell in love with so many of the diverse and inspiring people I’ve met here, who’ve quickly become my closest friends, mentors, teachers, and housemates. I fell in love with the freedom of living thousands of kilometres from home, and the excitement of having so many unfamiliar places to explore.
Ultimately, when it came time to confirm my summer plans, I knew that my heart had settled out West for now. I couldn’t leave this place so soon; my adventures had only just begun.
So, here I am. I’ve launched myself from the lecture halls and coffee shops of Victoria, straight to the mountain tops and waterways of Strathcona Provincial Park, where I’m now working full-time for the summer as an Outdoor Education Instructor at Strathcona Park Lodge.
I’ve traded my classic Blundstones and knit sweaters for a solid pair of hiking boots and a brightly-coloured rain jacket, and exchanged the laptop and textbooks that typically occupy my backpack for a wilderness first aid kit and extra wool socks.
Here at Strathcona, a regular week on the job involves leading groups of students through a wide range of outdoor activities, from rock climbing and zip lining, to overnight canoe tripping, hiking, orienteering, and stand-up paddle boarding.
On my days off, I climb mountains with co-workers, go on long trail runs, and camp out under the stars. We’re off the grid, there’s no cell phone service, and I live in a humble log cabin overlooking the lake, which I share with three other co-workers.
My lifestyle here is exhausting, but motivating, simple, but comfortable, and challenging, but fulfilling. After 8 consecutive months of university, this lifestyle shift has been exactly the change of pace that I needed.
As an Environmental Studies and Geography student, I also feel so fortunate to be working in a position that actively fuels my passion for environmental awareness and sustainability, and allows me to apply some of the practical knowledge I’ve gained through my courses.
While I’ll be the first person to admit that university can be infuriating and draining for me at times, spending the past few months here at Strathcona has allowed me to fully embrace this summer as an opportunity to restore my mind, reenergize my body, reflect on life, and reconnect with my purpose.
With just under a month still remaining before courses begin again in the fall, I challenge you to make every moment meaningful — savour the sunshine, explore new places, connect with old friends, move your body, read a book (just for fun), jump into cold water.
Remind yourself that who you are exists outside of your identity as a student, and take this time to live a lifestyle that will inspire and energize you for the academic year ahead.