By: Captain Mary Ann Barber

So it’s a few days post the TPL BOC Expedition Training Camp and it’s all finally started to sink in, the significance of these events, the opportunity that sits in front of me and the excitement of the upcoming trip! I am not sure what I was expecting prior to rolling into Camp Pinecrest, there was definitely trepidation towards who I would meet, how comfortable would I be, how triggered would I get and how would I manage being in a room full of people with no military background. I have to say the entire weekend was very humbling, eye-opening and not what I was expecting at all. From the facilities, to the staff, to meeting my new team mates, everyone and everything was incredible. We connected immediately as a team, whether it was on the water, or at our first large group meeting where we shared some of our stories with each other. Each person I met had an incredible story to tell, was inspiring in their own way and were genuine in their reasons for participating with the expedition. I have to say it’s humbling to be soldier and have so many people interested in hearing about what you’ve done in your career in the CAF. I’ll be honest I’ve never thought that anything I’ve done was any different than what other Canadians have done, I have a profession that I love and I’ve worked for an organization that I love, just like everyone else out there.  I met some incredible people this past weekend, our guides, our team leaders, all of the business leaders, my fellow soldiers. How do I put into words how they each impacted me in such a short period of time? I’m not sure it’s possible just yet.

Highlights from the weekend, well, it’s clear to me that I need to practise my J-stroke, and putting me in the stern might result in fabulous circles out on the water! I’m a work in progress what can I say! But man can I draw in the bow! The camp fire sing-alongs were definitely a highlight! We need to come up with a playlist for our expedition so we can all sing instead of just a couple of us! I definitely have some training to do so my arms don’t fall off by day 2 on the water, but I always like having a goal to work towards! I think I might also spend some time swimming in some cold water before I go just so I’m not so shocked when I’m splashed with 7C water up north! As I say this I’m dreading it! I’ve also realized that I’ve become a bit soft in the camping department, and while all my army field time has certainly laid a nice foundation on living outdoors for weeks on end, I’ve been a bit spoiled in recent years, so I might spend some time sleeping outdoors, and even as I say that I think, anyone can be uncomfortable in the field!

Mentally preparing for this challenge, I am really excited about the people I am going to share this experience with, the fact that my face hurt from laughing so much when I came home on Sunday only tells me how great this expedition is going to be! I know I’ll need a little bit of “alone” time on occasion to just keep myself grounded but that’s not going to be hard to achieve.

When I reflect back on what my initial motivators were for signing up for the expedition, I ultimately was looking at the trips and thinking, these all seem really interesting and these are places in Canada that I haven’t seen yet. However now after having met the people from TPL and my team, this means so much more. What an incredible opportunity to meet people from completely outside my normal circles who have such amazing stories and experiences that I can learn from. As well, I am hoping that I in turn will have something to give back, my successes and failures and what I’ve learned about myself in the past few years. I am also humbled by the commitment of TPL to our soldiers, their families and loved ones. To see their passion for giving back to our wounded brothers and sisters at arms was overwhelming.

So I’ll sign off here, more to follow in the weeks ahead! August will be here before we know it and I cannot wait for this trip and opportunity of a lifetime!

Here’s a pic of our great team on our last day at the Training Camp! Next time we’re all together it’ll be in Edmonton on our way north!