What I Learned from my Kayaking Bootcamp to Support Injured Veterans
By: John Baker (President & CEO at D2L)
In many ways, life is a journey — one that can take us vastly different places. My journey has taken me from a university student with an idea to a leader of a bunch of incredibly talented people working together to help transform the way the world learns.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate. Not everyone is so lucky.
Many soldiers experience more difficult journeys as they travel the globe serving their country. Along the way, some suffer trauma. The scars can be physical or emotional. Having sacrificed so much on our behalf, they deserve our support as they recover.
That’s why this past weekend, I participated in a training camp for a kayak expedition this summer aimed at raising funds for injured veterans – folks with physical injuries and/or with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
See details of my expedition here.
My company, D2L, provides all our employees with the option for two paid days per year to volunteer their time to causes they care about. And I’m investing my time in this cause.
The expedition will be 6 full days of kayaking across the ocean to Fogo Island, which is a place that is known to be one of the four corners of the earth (as per the Flat Earth Society — and no, I am not a member).
I expect that we’ll encounter a range of weather and sea conditions, along with seeing a few icebergs and potentially humpback whales.
This expedition brings together a group of business leaders who will not only raise funds to support True Patriot Love, a charity dedicated to helping veterans recover from their injuries. With several injured veterans joining us on the trip, it also gives us the opportunity to share strategies and ideas to help them overcome their challenges — and for us to learn from their remarkable experiences.
For me, the preparation alone has already been an incredible learning experience. From the training weekend, it was a great reminder of how much learning comes from mistakes and failures and not just great knowledge transfer from the amazing guides. Sharing my learning mistakes not only helps me, but it helps my fellow expedition participants.
Three key lessons from this weekend: I need to figure out how to sleep better in a tent after a day of activity (ideas still welcomed), that the lightest dry bags are not the most durable dry bags, and how to avoid getting hit with a paddle by your rescue kayak as you get out of the water!
You’d have to watch carefully to see that last lesson – we were motivated to get out of the near freezing water this weekend: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0By4UyFdxxu8eQWRENEc5OXdjbnc/view
And yes, that is me flipping the Kayak near the end of the above video.
I’m confident I’ll have a few reflections to share after this expedition. Please stay tuned and feel free to share the story with folks (e.g. first responders or veterans) that you may know that could use support from a group like TPL.
Love the way you learn!