Written by Jessica Charles, Indigenous Leadership & Development Project Coordinator

Field Trips. Braces. Awkward School Photos. Junk food only diets. What do these words have in common you may ask? Why they describe the thriving and instrumental years of Junior High School of course! When the greatest tragedy in life was when someone showed up to school in the same outfit as you, or when the best day was when someone circled “yes” on the ‘do you like me’ note passed around till it landed on your desk. Ah, those were the days. So why you may ask am I recounting these almost forgotten memories?

This last month I had the opportunity to travel with the Bert Bowes Junior High School in Fort St. John B.C. as they adventured off to the Halfway River First Nation land with 15 kids and 5 chaperones. As it turns out, a large quantity of this grade 9 class are students who identify themselves as being from Halfway River, and they wanted the opportunity to share the beauty of their land and culture that they were proud of with their fellow non-nation peers. It was a wonderful day of fishing, playing baseball, sitting around a campfire and horse-back riding and I felt honoured to be a part of it.

Travelling with the students reminded me of my own Junior High days [and just how long it had be since I had even ridden on a school bus]. Upon the drive home, the one thing I couldn’t really shake was the vivacity of these Junior High-ers. They are willing to try anything, whether it makes them look foolish or not. They are adventurous and have eyes that sparkle with a joy of reaching that which is unknown and not understood to them. They reminded me that as adults, it becomes so easy to get stuck in a routine of the safe things. To be comfortable, and do things because well, thats just what we always do, so why should we change it?

I’ve heard it said that, “Life begins at the end of our comfort zones.” But being uncomfortable isn’t fun… so why do it? I like to think of stretching like an elastic band. In order to cause the band to stretch, you have to allow their to be tension. Likewise, if you want to grow, you need to stretch and that can cause discomfort. But at the end of the day, I rather look back knowing I didn’t always play it safe, and pushed myself to seek new horizons; because you never know what you might find on the other side.