For some, adventure is trying exotic foods or watching a foreign movie. For others, adventure takes place in far reaches of the planet and is surrounded by the unfamiliar. Still for others, adventure without adrenaline, is no adventure at all. And for those of us who pride ourselves in adventure, there is always the new adventure, the one you didn’t plan or seek out—but, the one that found you.

As the Program Director for Telluride Academy, I have been in the business of creating adventures for others. Every summer, we craft over 100 unique and exciting programs that provide kids an opportunity to explore, create and discover new things through the vehicle of adventure. However, just last weekend, through my own unexpected adventure, I was reminded of the importance of not just engaging in adventurous activities but developing an “adventurous mindset”.

Last weekend, I made the journey to New England to attend a conference on Health, Fitness and Recreation in which I would learn from an array of specialists and bring the best practices back to Telluride. What I thought was to be a week of professional development, seasoned with some cultural exploration, quickly turned into…well, an adventure.

As I was airborne en route to Boston there was a small explosion next to the hotel that I had reserved for myself. This explosion, and the subsequent fire, knocked out the power for several blocks of downtown Beantown leading to a total blackout for several days. Imagine the logistical nightmares and inconveniences of the day- to-day movements of a city, combine that with 10,000 conference attendees and the hotels that house them, then add no power. No working traffic lights, no electricity, no lights, no hot water – no power. The “event” has been dubbed the “Back Bay Blackout”.

In those first few hours, I found myself with a group of conference refugees, navigating the dark and foreboding streets of the city, carrying backpacks and rolling suitcases. We beat back the darkness with a single headlamp. Vehicles had been blocked from the streets, but police barricades and emergency vehicles flashed lights at numerous intersections. Yet, eerily, no police were present. We felt like stars in our own post-apocalyptic disaster movie; I half expected zombies to appear around each corner.

In the mornings, eager conference attendees congregated in dimly lit reception halls, all awaiting the day’s status and schedule. Conversations swayed between war stories of cold showers (or no showers) and the hopes of generators arriving to save the day. Unfortunately, each day ended up the same…postponed, then cancelled. After a few days of this routine, the entire conference was cancelled. Disappointment radiated from our dark downtown epicenter.

Despite the lack of an itinerary and the planned professional development, I  reminded myself the importance of keeping an “adventurous mindset” — Boston quickly became my adventure. City streets became avenues for discovering micro-universes—places within the larger city that I randomly selected from subway maps posted in musty underground stations. I relished the opportunity to interact with people going about their day-to-day lives and found myself moving at the pace of the city. I was walking with a purpose to unknown locations and placing faith in the universe that around each turn, was the perfect place for me.

My theory was justified one early morning as I stumbled upon historic Faneuil Hall. This building, built in 1742, has seen the likes of George Washington, Samuel Adams and a cacophony of American icons speak from its stages over the centuries, lending it its nickname the “Cradle of Liberty”. On that particular day, a colorful kaleidoscope of nationalities– people from all places across the planet—stood outside awaiting to participate in a “Citizenship Ceremony” – an event in which they would become American citizens. With paper work in hand, smiles, and looks of pride on their faces, America’s newest, soon-to-be, citizens gathered with their families. I stood and listened to a symphony of foreign languages being spoken and I felt extremely proud to be a witness to a longstanding American tradition.

Despite the fact that not too much professional development happened in the form of workshops and expert panels, I still learned a valuable lesson. I was reminded that you can find an adventure in the least likely of places. When schedules disappear in small transformer explosions, and the lights go out on your plans, you turn the moments into adventures and make the most of the situation.

Which leads me to the other lesson I learned in Boston…always pack a flashlight.

1 Comment
  • Holly Marie
    Posted at 06:58h, 01 April

    Wow!!!!! This has to be the best piece I have read from either you, my son or from any student of my 150 years of education. Well done, bravo!!!!