Who is Lady Jane Franklin?

As the delayed spring finally ope­ns its doors, a short walk in the woods quickly brings to focus the sleepy world that was living quietly below the snow (or more realistically the mud) for the last five months. Spring always seems to usher in a sense of awakening and rediscovery after the Canadian winter. Our minds are naturally thrown into the direction of possibilities and new learnings. Translating the feelings of the spring season into action is often where we fall short year after year as spring flows quickly into summer. This spring, keep two key ideas in focus: adventure and inspiration.

As the river ice breaks free and the waters flow again into the Great Lakes the stories of adventures long past are reawakened and brought back to life. Our country was, and continues to be discovered by the spirit of adventure and the pursuit of what lies just beyond. Bringing these feelings back into our lives – adventure keeps the Canadian spirit of the land and the sense of identity we share close to our hearts.

Capturing the stories and spirit of adventure can be a difficult task in our daily activities, but in fact, if we look closely, we can find it in everything we apply ourselves too. The pursuit for adventure is not simply a specific action or expedition, it is the intention to look a little deeper and push a little farther. Holding in the spirit of explorers who left their mark on Canada, such as Alexander Mackenzie, David Thompson or Lady Jane Franklin we are reminded of a few key character qualities – embracing the unknown, perseverance, sacrifice, leadership, grit and unwavering conviction. Each of these qualities continue to be highly valued within contemporary society.

The rewards of pursuing adventure are often thought to only benefit those on the quest, but like us, you probably didn’t know about Lady Jane Franklin who orchestrated the unbelievable twelve-year search for her husband and in the process contributed more to the mapping and exploration of the high arctic than any other male explorer without ever setting foot in the Canadian Arctic! What are the lessons we learn from explorers’ endeavors? How do we place value on the blood, sweat and tears that was success of their hardships, learnings and journeys? Why do extraordinary historical expeditions leave a telling mark on everyone who listens to the tale decades later? There is the human tendency to be curious and to feel accomplishment – inspiring and fostering the characteristics built from adventure in the students we mentor can happen within all aspects of program delivery and implementation.  

Do a quick internet search for top Canadian adventurers. Really, go do it. What you will find are endless lists of individuals who are out pushing the edges of their own personalities and seeking to deepen their souls, resiliency, experience and life path. But even more, each of these contemporary adventurers are contributing to our collective understanding of the edges of society, leadership and future progress. Each is a value we should help foster within our youth and an endeavor we should collectively applaud and celebrate. One of the greatest gifts we can give our students is the confidence to push off into the unknown and to believe that no matter what the outcome of their experience they will return stronger, brighter, and above all else have reached deeper levels of their character and disposition.

As the spring pushes us to feel the need to keep the adventurous spirit alive and to recognize that pursuing adventure is a worthwhile endeavor we can focus on the following three principles:

  • embrace and lean into the unknown;
  • challenge and hardship leads to perseverance, and perseverance leads to growth; and
  • exploration deepens our curiosity and allows us to build strong resilient character traits.

At ALIVE Outdoors we keep this in mind when we develop and build programs for students and teachers to experience the spirit of adventure, and to build their own stories of looking a little deeper and pushing a little farther. We are excited by the change of season. We are especially reminded of the importance of the outdoors and the impact of nature on our lives on Earth Day. Yet every day is a chance to appreciate our planet and spring yourself into adventures.  

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