Meaning and Purpose #1

Meaning and Purpose #1    A Love for Nature and the Natural World

“True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written, in writing what deserves to be read, and in so living as to make the world happier and better for our living in it.” Pliny the Elder 

It seems so long ago (1991) when I handed off my wilderness adventures tours company to a good friend who was frequently my sweep on my West Coast Trail tours over the last five years that I was operating my business. My journey in pursuing wilderness adventure began as a child at our summer cottage on Lake Boshkung in Haliburton, Ontario. Summers were free and as children we were constantly exploring our surroundings. I was fascinated by the call of the loon as it reverberated across the lake through the morning mist, the rabbits playfully jumping over logs and crashing through tuffs of grass, the deer oblivious to my presence grazing on shrubs and grasses, and the fireflies at night swirling in the jet-black night sky. My senses were buzzing as I cradled the joy and wonder that our planet offers us and so it is my journey of discovery of all that nature presents began.  

After first year university I hitch-hiked across Canada much to my parent’s chagrin and after traveling throughout the West Coast of British Columbia which included Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, over to Prince Rupert, down through Prince George into the Cariboo, and a summer job with Geological Survey of Canada tramping through the bush conducting seismic readings. I decided right there and then that after graduation I was going back out to the West Coast. Early on after graduation landing a job with Burnaby Parks and Recreation working at a community centre for three months before hitting the jackpot with the Surrey School District. Early in my career with the school district I threw myself into outdoor pursuits during my leisure time and took every kind of course one could imagine. Mountaineering at Mt Adams Wilderness Institute in Washington State, , rock climbing up at Squamish, avalanche training at Whistler, flat and white water paddling at Capilano University Outdoor Recreation programme and the Blue Lake Centre in Alberta, winter and summer survival courses plus white water kayaking, ethnobotany and snow ecology at Strathcona Lodge on Vancouver Island, glaciology at Western Washington University, Nordic skiing through Sigge’s in Vancouver, etc. I went on to get my national certification in in white and flat water paddling, avalanche training, and Nordic skiing.    

My first guided wilderness tour started at Cloverdale Junior Secondary on the West Coast Trail where I had my office located for my Community Education Coordinator position. I got the idea to develop an Environmental/Outdoor Education department for the school district early on in my tenure at Cloverdale. My boss at the time was Dr Don McKinnon and Don I remember saying that “I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking of but I’ll help you write a proposal to our Superintendent of Schools, Jack Evans.” Low and behold it was accepted and I was now the man in charge with developing Environmental/Outdoor education for our school district. I was only 27 years old and what did I know? My first job that Fall was to work with our district solicitor and craft our first District-wide Field Trip policy. Then it was to research the model we would introduce, residential or more field-based, we decided on a field-based model unlike North Vancouver and Kamloops School Districts. Then it was crafting a three-year plan and purchasing equipment for the programme along with creating a district budget and finding a field house to keep all the equipment we purchased for the programme. That first year was busy to say the least and exciting. Our programme had to be a comprehensive approach to environmental and outdoor education studies in order to succeed, it could not just be about fun and games with outdoor pursuits and wilderness field trips. I tried hard to link any outdoor pursuit activity to the environment we were in and to personal growth ie. leadership, problem-solving, decision-making, communication, etc. I only wish I had the formal training and work experience I now have on the personal growth side of things when I was in that role. 

Because I had my summers, Christmas vacation, and Spring Break holidays free I started my outdoor pursuits and tour business which consisted of both wilderness adventure tours and instructing outdoor pursuits such as, flat and white water paddling, rock climbing, mountaineering, avalanche instruction, winter survival, and nature photography (studied at the Canberra School of Art the Zone System of black and white photography for a year, audio-visual production at the Canberra Institute of Technology, and multiple photography courses in Vancouver).

16 years later I was still doing it with my companies Adventures in Store Tours Ltd. and Adventures in Store Ltd. It all stopped when I had my first child and being acutely aware of the risks I was taking in both my personal outdoor pursuits and the time I was away from family doing all these activities, I decided to pack it in and be there for the kids. The famous Everest incident with climbing guide Rob Hall really affirmed for me that I was making the right decision with no regrets. It was a great run and lots of fun while it lasted.  

Many years later I am still very much into the natural world and outdoor adventure travel. I still purchase an annual ski pass at the local hills in the Rockies, overnight trips and hike in the mountains, backpacking trips up to 10-12 days, paddle on the rivers and do my wilderness and landscape photography.  I’ve learned that our lives on this planet are noticeably short and that we must live our dreams while we can. Time waits for no one and having experienced losing so many dear friends through no fault of their own, I will keep on trucking for as long as I can. 

So, if anyone happens to read this my advice to you is DON’T put off what you really want to do. Live your dreams and do it with meaning and purpose. Hopefully, it helps to make a better world for all of humankind and the other living things we share this planet with. We are only renting time and space while we are here!  

I truly hope that my years of introducing school kids and their teachers, and the public to all these outdoor activities and adventures gave them an appreciation for our natural world, for living a healthy lifestyle, and an introduction to being stewards of the land. If I did this to some degree then I can say I lived a good life; one that had meaning and purpose. 

Final Short Story: I was coming back from Seattle one day and as usual the Peace Arch border crossing at Blaine, Washington and Surrey, British Columbia was backed up it seemed forever. When I finally arrived at Canada Customs the official started giving me a really hard time and I thought, “What the heck is going on here?” Then he pulled down his shades and said, “How are you doing Mr Luckock?”  I couldn’t believe it! He was a former student at North Surrey Secondary and had been on multiple trips with me. He said, “Let’s do a full inspection but I know you have nothing to declare.” I said, “But look at the line up behind me!” He just laughed and he wanted to know what I’d been up to all these years later. After getting back into my Toyota Landcruiser and before driving away he said, ” Look for me next time you’re coming through and I just want to tell you those trips we did are the best memories of my school years. Thank you sir!” I drove away with wet eyes and thought about the thousands of kids I had either lectured in the classroom or taken on field trips from one to twelve days.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”   * Note to Self: I could have done better in some parts and at certain times in my life.   

Maya Angelou 

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