The Boundless Train – All Aboard!

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Blog

Dear Boundless Families:


It’s minus 19 this morning. The snow arrived on day minus one in one massive dump, like a constipated sky that finally found its relief. It readied the land for the arrival of the teenage hooligans.

The chances afforded by the flakes and the stunning vistas they have created has made people giddy. So much to do. Outside. With frozen creeks and rivers. Tree branches drooping with the weight of opportunity.

For the five new students, it’s the first station on this chilly Boundless Train. For the others, it’s the second, fifth, and for a few, the ninth.

Each train stop is its own quirky neighbourhood.

The newbies stepped out onto their first platform called “Madawaska Valley”. This station is cold. They shivered. But they were quickly warmed by the selfless spirits of others who arrived at their own first stop months, and for some, years ago. They know how disorienting this platform can be, and the hugs and handshakes they offered the freshies were as abundant as the snowflakes.

No doubt, the first station is the toughest. For the perspective of the newcomers, they must have wondered, “Just who are these people? What about these fancy and strangely layered clothes? Chore groups? We are going to get credits for exactly what? This ain’t regular school.”

Things move fast at Boundless. It’s the morning of Day 4 as I write, and the new arrivals have already made it to the next stop, appropriately named, “Settled In.”

One of them cried profusely on that first day. He had never been away from home. Another wouldn’t reveal his face until the morning of day two. But now, as the plot to this session thickens, all are finding their place. It is dawning on them that the people’s kindness up here isn’t artificial. People give a s..t about you at Boundless. The relief the new kids have felt is powerful. They are starting to let loose on this train platform.

For the other kids, who have ridden multiple stops, their experience is becoming more profound with each moment. They are leaving their mark on this place. Lily of the valley, despite her shyness, mounted a stunning landscape picture she drew a month ago, gracing the snack food station with tinctures of purple. We’ll call this neighbourhood “Productivity”. She told me the other day that “Everything is coming together four me.”  Lily will be graduating in six weeks, and has already landed a job in an art studio when she gets back.

Malcolm – I swear that kid matured into a full adult during the week he was away. The pathway of maturation never follows a straight line. Something clicked in the lad. Out of nowhere, he has become the leader of the school. Quietly. Without fanfare. He has spent years preparing for this moment – yet ironically he never sought it. There is nothing egocentric about his alpha status. The best leaders emerge – just cuz. Let’s call this station “humility”.

Sophie, who’s wisdom is a blend of Cher and Susan B. Anthony , is only on her fifth stop, aiming to graduate at Boundless In December. She has excess baggage sometimes – but she pushes forward – always. This train stop, called “Endurance”, is her home. Gosh, this bodes well for her future.

Liam stepped onto his ninth station platform, entitled “Finish-What-You-Start” with the conviction that this station shall be his last. I am not sure what the heck I am going to do when he graduates in six weeks. I adore that kid so much. He has shed forty pounds since his arrival and is getting quite ripped, as if his body and spirit are getting hardened enough to face the indifferent universe that waits outside the Boundless bubble.

There is Evan, who told me on day 7 last session that he is gunning to replace me as Executive Director. I think he could. In one decade, that lad will be ready. We desperately need Indigenous leadership. This diminutive Kingston boy will grow into anything he wants. He is at arguably straddling the most fun stop right now, entitled “Limitless”. He does what the f..k he wants now. It’s just that what he wants, what he does, whatever he chooses, makes everyone around him stronger.

And Jeremy, who is finally learning the chess code to keep your mouth shut as a spectator, adorns the community with his smile and his insanely good drawings. Our white board is refreshed every day with his renditions of monsters, angels and silhouettes. That scoundrel scribbled a dead ringer of my crooked nose for all to see. He is mastering the station called “Profiles.” He is beginning to understand that our identities are fluid. He can choose to be what he needs to be.

It’s been a gorgeous first few days in this chilly session. Everyone is coming alive.



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Steven Gottlieb
Steven Gottlieb