Culminating in a Coffin

by | Mar 24, 2023 | Blog

Dear Boundless Families:

Two nights ago, I witnessed your kids spend the night outside sleeping in winter coffins. For two days previous to that, they were hamming it up for the cameras of a film crew who came to Boundless with the impossible task of capturing what makes Boundless boundless. Last night, they explored the polarity of living a life of pleasure-seeking hedonism versus one with challenge and self-sacrifice. Jade drew a gorgeous Ying Yang symbol that loomed over the discussion.

It’s been busy, with just three days until the grand finale, where so many shall graduate. Every soul is poised to look upon the world in new ways.

Back to these coffins, which really are three-foot trenches dug out to accommodate a sleeping bag. They took on the eerie appearance of earthen caskets. Your kids were in stitches, and their laughter complimented the ghastly giggles of coyotes all night. I am not kidding. The canines were rattled by these teenage primates who claimed their turf, stuffing themselves with Kit Kat chocolate bars using those precious opposable thumbs.

They spent weeks prepping for this experience. The mission?  Survive well in the dead of winter. The night was a “culmination” –  an academic term I loathe almost as much as the term pedagogy. If you don’t know the latter, you’re better off.

But as “culminations” go, it was a magical one.

The film crew was sent by Telus Communications, a charitable donor who helps pay for all this madness, and who showed questionable judgment in sending an eager but all too innocent film crew who didn’t really know what they were getting into.

I receive film crews like a crotchety old man who sees any spotlight on kids as a threat. But I have to admit, that crew pulled it off, blending right in. I was shocked by how easily the tribe accepted them. People forgot the cameras were rolling. I promise to send you a link to the video which should be ready in about a month.

Last night was the final Stevening of the calendar. It concluded with three somewhat contradictory conclusions. A life of pure self-indulgence leads to ruination. A life imbued only with challenge and sacrifice can be exhausting and is ultimately unattainable. The notion of simply being happy with what you have seems to have saved the day. As the Buddha said, “Follow the middle path.”

What left me in a state of awe was when the students were asked to make a list of “if you could have or wish for anything”, they avoided the low hanging fruits of money, fame, power and infinite pleasures. What they really hoped for was, in their words, “improved mental health. and real friends”

God, mental health is such a thing. It is such a thing. It is such a thing. To have it sit highest in the minds of your kids made me hopeful but also made me cry inside.

I told them last night that I worry about them, How will they emerge from our cozy bubble to a mainstream and indifferent world? I asked them to declare one challenge and pleasure to pursue when they return. They are to announce these in front of the group on the last night.

It has been a blessed session. Your kids are transformed. They are also the same. Give them time to settle in. Don’t spoil them too much, but maybe just a teensy weensy bit because they have been through something quite profound and will be delicate.

I wish you all the most joyous reunions.

Warm regards,


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Steven Gottlieb
Steven Gottlieb