Monday, August 29, 2016

Update from the River

We're happy to report that the #NahanniTeam2016 is doing well and is on track with their itinerary.

Here's an update from Reach Beyond coordinator Angus Murray, who has been receiving updates from the river through satellite technology:

"The Nahanni Trip is on schedule. I have been receiving daily SPOT messages from the team confirming their location. Sarah Wiley will post photos once they are back within reach of a cell phone tower."

Angus also shared with quick message from the river, "All is well, river life is grand!"

Thanks for the updates, team!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

#NahanniTeam2016: Instructor Jason Kuruc

Joining Outward Bound Canada executive director Sarah Wiley as an instructor of the #NahanniTeam2016 is Jason Kuruc. Jason has been instructing with Outward Bound in the Rockies for the past several years, and is also working as part of the program team out West as a course director based out of Canmore. Meet Jason below as he shares with us his passion for outdoor adventure.

"I truly believe that Outward Bound transforms people's lives in a positive way!

Outward Bound is so much more than a physical adventure... being immersed in an "Outward Bound experience" has limitless potential in terms of human capacity to learn, grow, and transform. As an OB instructor, I have personally witnessed in others and have experienced for myself how the power of the human spirit can show you how to be your best self and be a positive contribution to society! The programs and courses that Outward Bound offers are life changing and a critical opportunity for participants to reconnect with themselves and the environment they call home.

When I was a teenager, I really wanted to go on an Outward Bound course. When I realized that I could not afford it, I was a bit discouraged. I found other ways to engage in wild adventures and transformative experiences but the desire for an OB experience still lingered. What I didn't know at the time was how OB offers bursaries and scholarships to students who can't outright afford an OB experience! I wish I knew then what I know now. Fast forward 15 years and I find myself working as an instructor and a course director for OB and fulfilling the dream of having meaningful work.

I have a deep passion for wild places, especially river environments, and my favourite thing to do is share that passion! I have been canoeing for over 25 years, guiding or instructing for about 15 years and have guided on the Nahanni for several years. I have also been working with Outward Bound Canada in the Rockies for about 6 years now. As a graduate of the esteemed Thompson Rivers University Adventure Guide Diploma, I have dedicated the majority of my working life to guiding, instructing and sharing adventures. This also kick started my dense list of certifications! To name a few, I am certified through Paddle Canada as an Intermediate Moving Water Canoe Instructor, through Rescue Canada as a Swiftwater Safety Rescue Technician III and I hold a 90 hr wilderness first responder certificate. The North has a special place in my heart and I am thrilled to be going North again and sharing the experience with the wonderful people on this expedition!

Born and raised in the Toronto area, I inevitably migrated out west to pursue post secondary and live out my passions in the river, ocean and mountain environments I now call home. In my spare time, you'll find me whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, backcountry skiing or riding my motorcycle! My next big adventure is training to become a certified ACMG Backcountry Ski Guide :) Through all these adventures, I continually learn from everyone around me and of course, mother nature.

I am very excited and humbled to be a part of this year's Reach Beyond Expedition on the Nahanni River and to help support Outward Bound Canada."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

And We're Off!

Here is a picture of the team in front of the twin otter that we will take to fly into Virginia Falls for the start of our expedition. We have sunny skis, a ton of food and good cheer abounds! This will be the last time we can post as we are entering the world of no cell coverage - it is called wilderness. Can't wait! Back in a week!

Sunset on the Mackenzie River

Well, "the gang is all here" and everyone is excited (and a little bit nervous)! Had a wonderful first night together here in Fort Simpson - meeting and greeting - and are all ready to head to Virginia Falls tomorrow morning by twin otter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Packing Food for the Nahanni Expedition!

Nahanni River Expedition staff are getting ready for the participants to arrive tomorrow. The group of 11 students plus 3 staff head down the iconic wilderness river on August 25th. The group has already raised over $50k to support Outward Bound Canada's programs for youth and adults as part of our Reach Beyond fundraising expeditions.

#NahanniTeam2016: Instructor Sarah Wiley

Our #NahanniTeam2016 paddlers will be led by two instructors. The first is certainly no stranger to Outward Bound - she is Sarah Wiley, Executive Director of Outward Bound Canada! Here's what Sarah has to say about herself, her background and the journey ahead:

"I am currently the Executive Director of Outward Bound Canada, a position I have held since June 2010. I got my teaching degree and speciality in Outdoor and Experiential Education in 1989 and began working for Outward Bound Canada as an instructor in 1992. I left Outward Bound in 2004 and moved to Calgary where I worked as Director of Student Life at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School and then moved to Vancouver Island where I was the Deputy Head of School at Shawnigan Lake School.  I have a Masters of Education and an MBA (I love learning!). I have travelled extensively and have climbed mountains in South America, North America, & Africa. I have led five climbs up Mt. Kilimanjaro, four of them with Outward Bound Canada.

My husband and I have an eight-year old son, Hugh, and a dog named Charlie who both keep us quite busy! Though I work in Toronto at OBC’s head office, I am lucky to live in the country, about 90mins northwest of the city. I am really looking forward to spending time on the Nahanni River with what seems to be a fabulous team and am extremely grateful for the fundraising efforts to date. With the funds raised from this expedition, we will be able to increase access to Outward Bound programs for those who will most benefit from them."

Friday, August 19, 2016

#NahanniTeam2016: KC Rogers

One of the most majestic and breathtaking sights along the Nahanni is Virginia Falls.

This iconic natural waterfall has a total drop of 96 m (315 ft), making it about twice the height of Niagara Falls. It consists of a single drop with an average width of 259 m (850 ft). The rock in the centre of the falls is called Mason's Rock, named after Bill Mason, the famous Canadian canoeist, author, and filmmaker.

Our next #NahanniTeam2016 paddler is KC Rogers.

Captivated by paddling in her youth, KC has fond memories of her first Outward Bound trip in Northern Ontario in her late teens. Ever since, she’s hoped to do another, and this summer’s trip down the Nahanni seemed like the perfect opportunity to realize that dream. 

KC is the “CEO” of her home, single-handedly managing a tribe of four kids aged 8, 10, 11 and 13. Summers and weekends are devoted to imparting her love of the wilderness to the kids through adventures on the outer islands of Georgian Bay. 

Her downtime takes the form of singing with Toronto’s Choir!Choir!Choir!, which isn’t a surprise since she sang with the Toronto Children’s Chorus for many years, as her eldest daughter still does. She’s also learning how to play the Ukelele for campfire singalongs.  Count her in for paddling songs this summer!

KC knows how transformative an Outward Bound expedition can be, and is motivated by ensuring someone who might not otherwise be able to benefit should have the opportunity to develop the grit, confidence and competence that comes from being part of a team for days in the wilderness.

Personally she’s also excited to discover the Northwest Territories – a mythical place for many Canadians which few southerners have the opportunity to discover. Her friends, family and supporters can’t wait to hear all about it. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

#NahanniTeam2016: Mark Burton

The arrival of float planes in the mid 20th century greatly increased access to the river, and allowed it to be visited without extended backcountry journeys. This, and the publishing of R.M. Patterson’s Dangerous River, made the South Nahanni an outdoor destination.

In 1972, during his last expedition, Jean Poirel guided then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who came in person to evaluate this mysterious and fascinating region. Following his visit Pierre Trudeau declared the Nahanni a National Park for Canada.

Our next #NahanniTeam2016 paddler is Mark Burton. Mark is no stranger to taking on adventures with Outward Bound Canada, having taken on Everest Base Camp earlier this year. Here's what Mark has to say about his next challenge, the Nahanni:

My name is Mark Burton. I am incredibly lucky to have one wife, three teenage kids, and three dogs. We split our time between our house in Unionville, Ontario, and our cottage in Muskoka.

Professionally, my background is a bit eclectic. I have a science degree from Queen's University and a law degree from the University of Western Ontario. I was a partner at a big Toronto law firm, prior to which I was a lawyer on "Wall Street" in New York City. I specialized in corporate law, with an emphasis on initial public offerings, VC financings and mergers and acquisitions. I have been a partner at a "Big Four" accounting firm, working on the consulting side in restructuring and turnaround situations. I've been the CEO of 5 small to mid sized technology companies, 2 of which were TSX listed public companies and 3 of which were venture capital (VC) backed. All of these companies were ultimately sold to large public technology companies. I have been a member of quite a few private, public and not-for-profit boards of directors and advisory boards, and recently joined the Outward Bound board. Currently, I am "temporarily semi-retired", and doing strategy, operations and transactions consulting work for a small number of private clients.

Personally, I love sports, fitness and outdoor adventure. I am a climber, a golfer, a pilot, a scuba diver, a sailor, a skier, a backpacker, a paddler and an avid beer-league hockey player. At one time I worked for the Canadian Coast Guard in search and rescue.  A long time ago I did Ironman triathlons in Canada and Hawaii.

In March 2016, I was lucky enough to be part of the Outward Bound Reach Beyond Expedition to Nepal and Everest Base Camp.  It was such an incredible experience that when the opportunity came along to join the Outward Bound expedition to the Nahanni River, I jumped at the chance. Two bucket list trips in 6 months – all thanks to Outward Bound!

During the many outdoor expeditions I have been part of, I have seen first hand how impactful and inspiring outdoor adventures can be. The funds raised by Outward Bound, through expeditions like this one and through the generous contributions of sponsors, provide those that might not be able to afford it with the chance to experience the power that the outdoors has to inspire, empower and, in some cases, heal. I am honoured to be able to play a small part in the great work that Outward Bound does for so many.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#NahanniTeam2016: Robert Safrata

The Nahanni is unique amongst mountainous rivers. It formed long before the mountains ever existed, establishing a winding course typical of prairie rivers. As the mountains rose around it, the Nahanni maintained its course, cutting steep canyons into the land.

Our next #NahanniTeam2016 paddler is passionate OBC supporter Robert Safrata from British Columbia.

Robert Safrata is entrepreneur experienced in acquiring, building and growing companies by delivering a triple bottom line.

In 2000, Safrata acquired Richmond, BC-based courier company NOVEX out of receivership. The strategy included being a leader in sustainability practices with the addition of hybrid vehicles to the company’s fleet of over 100 vehicles and in 2010, the company added Canada’s first 2 all Electric Trucks to its fleet.  NOVEX wins awards for raising the bar and setting new standards of environmental ethics in a business historically not known as being environmentally sensitive.
More recently, Safrata purchased West Coast Sightseeing in 2009 – a 30 year old Vancouver based tourism business.  The first initiatives at West Coast were walking and bike tours and a partnership with the BC Breast Cancer Foundation donating $1 per visitor on the Big Pink Bus Tour; in keeping with triple bottom line business practices.  The company is now the largest bus tourism business in Vancouver.

As an industry leader and speaker, Robert has delivered Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to audiences across North America and regularly shares the story of NOVEX's transformation from a high-carbon business into an industry leader as a certified B-Corp and the greenest courier company in Canada.

Robert served as an inaugural member of Vancouver's "Greenest City Action Team" helping to guide economic development leadership towards the goal of making Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Robert believes strongly in giving back to the community. He is a member of the Young Presidents Organization and past Chairman of Outward Bound Canada; organizations he continues to actively support.  He also served on the Board of Tourism Vancouver and was past Chair of the Audit Committee where he was instrumental in guiding the organization towards greening its investment portfolio to achieve greater returns.

As a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team from 1973 to 1978, Robert competed in the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.  The discipline and drive of competitive sport continues to guide his triple bottom line approach to business.

Robert is married to Jacqueline Koerner, a former chair of Ecotrust Canada and who is currently completing her PhD.   He has 2 daughters and 2 sons who have now completed their post-secondary education and making their own way in their chosen disciplines.

You can help support Robert's fundraising efforts here.

Monday, August 1, 2016

#NahanniTeam2016: Bob Foulkes

The history of the area began 550 million years ago beneath a tropical sea. Here a sedimentary layer of sandstone and limestone formed from the powerful pressure exerted by the sea. Eventually this sea dried up, forming a wide plain upon which the Nahanni River first took its course.

The Nahanni is unique amongst mountainous rivers. It formed long before the mountains ever existed, establishing a winding course typical of prairie rivers. As the mountains rose around it, the Nahanni maintained its course, cutting steep canyons into the land.

The next paddler joining the #NahanniTeam2016 is Bob Foulkes. Bob has been a cherished supporter of Outward Bound Canada for over 20 years, and we are beyond happy to have him joining us for this latest adventure to the Northwest Territories!

Here's what Bob has to say about his relationship with Outward Bound Canada and his decision to take on the Nahanni with us this year:

"My relationship with Outward Bound started in 1994. It had a profound effect on me and on my son.

I had heard about Outward Bound and encouraged my son, then 15 years old, to embark on a 17 day Outward Bound program in the Coast mountains of BC. He went off a boy and came back a young man, more confident, more capable, more assured. I saw his transformation and wanted to experience it myself. A year later, I had my own Outward Bound experience - an eight-day backpacking adventure in the Coast Mountains.

It changed the course of my life, opening the door to the outdoors and the joy of adventure.

In 2014, I joined Outward Bound’s Mount Kilimanjaro Expedition, celebrating my 65th year.

Bob and the 2014 Reach Beyond: Mount Kilimanjaro team

Over the past twenty years, I have run, cycled, swum, hiked and paddled through adventure after adventure; I trace all this insanity back to that first Outward Bound experience.

Nahanni is the next big one, my most exciting adventure ever!"