There is magic in a rushing river. The powerful turbulence of crashing rapids transforms ancient stones by the constant movement of water. Standing on the bank, we watched the river in great anticipation with raised neck hairs and misted faces. Little did we know; our transformation had already begun.

This summer, eight courageous teens from BC Children’s Hospital put their trust in a giant floating raft and allowed the river to take them on the ultimate journey.

Under the watchful eyes of the Tantalus mountain range and the skilled guides at Canadian Outback Rafting Company, our participants boarded their vessel. The raft was full of nervous laughter and uncertain glances back towards the distancing shore. This group of teens has overcome great obstacles in their lives and this was just another challenge they would soon look back on with great pride and accomplishment.

Each year Power To Be partners with BC Children’s Teen Adventures program to provide nature-based adventures to youth who’ve experienced a cancer or blood-related diagnosis. These programs provide youth with the opportunity to socialize and cultivate relationships with teens who’ve faced similar realities, as well as challenge themselves through fun and exciting activities.

This particular activity found our participants gripping to the sides of a rubber raft.

Before we knew it, our raft was floating in the middle of the river and majority of nerves had washed away with the first splashes of water. The sensation of calm didn’t last long however, as our raft turned a corner and we caught our first glimpse of the rapids ahead.

Some participants cheered, some shrieked, some said nothing at all, but their grasp on the safety ropes grew increasingly tighter. Life is often compared to a river – going with the flow of life’s happenings, accepting the inevitability of change and conquering the challenges that lie in our path. Well, our path consisted of some gnarly white rapids, surrounded by fallen trees jutting out of the river, appearing to be directly in our way. Perfect.

Another of life’s lessons from the river: navigation. There are multiple ways to navigate a path, some safer than others, some more exhilarating than others. Our participants were hoping to land somewhere in the middle.

As our raft captain steered our vessel in a beautifully choreographed dance with the river, participant’s faces went from drained of any colour to enormous smiles, boisterous laughter and screams of excitement. They were incredibly alive in this moment, free of any diagnosis or aliment, free to be a teen screaming down a river with their friends.

Our journey down the river came to a climax when our rafting guide offered participants a chance to steer the vessel through calm meandering waters. It was the ultimate end to a thrilling ride. Participants taking control, steering us home to tell the tale another day.

 – Story shared by Andrea MacDonald, Interim Community Development Coordinator

Banner photo credit: Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash