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What's Going On? Educo 2022
This article is dedicated to Geoff Tisch the founder of Educo.
I arrived on a hot afternoon at the height of anticipation, during the last minute prep of Educo leaders awaiting the arrival of 40 children. I was swiftly introduced to the new camp Director Jade (pronounced -jahd), who seemed highly regarded among the other people there. The word on the iconic Educo field from Jade is : “Educo is back, after a few years of quiet operations, not yet thriving, but surviving just fine.”
The students began arriving and the reality was beginning to hit. Seven days between being dropped off and being picked up! So what were the thoughts of these newly arriving children?
“We’ll, I’m pretty worried about ticks. I tried to warn my mom but I’ll just have to deal with them I guess?”
“Uhm, I’m excited? but I’m not sure what I’m even excited for?”
“Maybe I’ll turn on the firehose and they’ll send me home”
“Oh actually I’m a camper here, I mean it looks nice? I think?”
“I don’t know… never been here before”
“This is a total mystery to me”
“Maybe if I trip and hurt myself right now I can go home?!”
“Is that a hammock?”
Much like the students on the first day of camp, there has been uncertainty and hesitation about the Jump! - Educo Partnership among the Educo Community and 100 Mile House Community. Multiple Board members resigned at the time of the merger, what were the concerns one I spoke with indicated they believed there was conflict of interest and another indicated that the nature of the merger and the Regulations under the BC Societies Act didn’t jive.
Then came the 2017 wildfires, staff turnover and Covid tests when Educo operations were quite paralyzed. On arrival I noticed the core values brought forward from the early establishment of Educo, from the late 60’s and 70’s era, and the original works of founder Geoff Tisch. They were hanging on the front entrance.
Fortitude, Curiosity, Humility, Integrity, Spirit.
From staff, volunteers, students and old documents these were articulated as clearly stated “Values” - right before the Jump! partnership.
The concerns didn’t end at the Educo Board, in my conversations after the trip to Educo a woman told me that she didn’t send her niece to Educo this year because Jump! openly promotes the UN 2030 Agenda. She told me, “I’m really not looking for my niece to be wrapped up in more of that stuff. I am just looking for a place where she can build some skills, meet some peers, build some strong values in herself and have a rite of passage where she doesn’t come back home with all sorts of ideas that aren’t her own.”
Welcome upgrades I noticed while visiting the site included:
~the children’s orientation was one on one with the parents when the students arrived.
~there is a staff dedicated to the BCCA Accreditation process.
~there is running water on site.
I met up with some former (experienced) staff, volunteers and students who were back to take on the challenge of re-igniting Educo this year. They were quick to share their hesitations about the Jump! Partnership as well. They were also able to articulate the wisdom they have gained in this process of re-starting : that so much of “The Educo Way” is stored in the people, in the land and ultimately the lore that is the experience of Educo itself. It was a beautiful thing to hear this wisdom articulated. It is the unique experience of students that will ultimately either re-build and contribute to the continuation of Educo or see it become something else.
What does the word Educo mean anyhow? “To lead forth from within”. On course facilitator's offer challenge to participants as an opportunity to discover their own unique abilities. A rite of passage into new aspects of self. Despite the nebulous foreign influence of Jump! the reality on the ground is : the existence of Educo is in the lore of the people, Educo does not exist if not for the students arriving for the Educo Experience. And that is the continuation of the Educo Way, otherwise it will be something else. When students become teachers and teachers become students and both draw forth that which is from within, that is the essence of Educo.
Of the 40 children who were expected to arrive on July 21st, the final registered count was 36. I can report that all the students now have tales to tell of Educo 2022. The staff indicated that the breakthroughs, smiles and hard-work were worth it and some of the children even declared they “are coming back next year”. Welcome to those new pathfinders and keepers of the Educo Way.
Let your spirit soar and long live Educo … Let Your Spirit Soar!