Thursday, 10 July 2008

How To Spend Your Canadian Summer

As a general rule, the busiest time for landscapers is the height of the summer. Although the mowing slows down - less rain and more heat causing the grass to turn brown and grow more slowly - the weeding and other neglected areas of the job (taken over by the mowing between April and June) become high priority and so there is much work to be done.

Since my trip here was always less about the working and more about the experiencing life abroad - I had asked a while back about how much time off I could expect in the summer (for travel, family and relaxation after some busy Winter and Spring months!). Initially my supervisor told me that I could expect very little; a few days at the most, but knowing her previous record for reliability I decided to ask the main boss, Larry, anyway.

Being a much nicer person, he was keen to give me time to explore the local area and try my hand at running the summer program, Summer Fun. We agreed on two months off – where I could return at any point if I wanted to – before returning definitely in September and October before I headed off to Whistler.

As well as the summer program job throughout July (Monday to Friday from 9am until 4pm), I also had some travel plans (Youth trips to Camp Latona and Oregon, a family wedding in Calgary, travel around Vancouver Island or Okanagan and possibly a weekend in Seattle!) coming together for August.

During my final few weeks as a landscaper, I managed to meet a guy with contacts in Whistler who said that it would be quite possible for me to find work at a hotel, restaurant or cafĂ© through one of his friends there – including accommodation! Before the end of the summer, I hope to have secured a place of employment and residence for the 4 month period there this coming Winter – my aim to get in some quality snowboarding as well as meet travellers from around the world!

So far my work with the Elementary school aged kids at Summer Fun has been a blast – with trips to Laser Tag, swimming pools and beaches as well as games, movies, food and crafts on the non-fieldtrip days. I appear to be popular amongst the kids because of my energy and craziness – a highlight being the “String Snort” which has now had around 300 hits across Facebook and YouTube! Other stupid things for children’s enjoyment so far have included breath-holding contests and raw onion eating - with much more to come before the end of the summer I’m sure!

Having fun with the Summerfun kids - making a human totem pole

Currently my favourite part of each day is the “Leader hunt”, where I tend to find an awesome place to hide and will only be found after making noisy “cacaw” sounds that I first used during the Kid’s Club Camp “Pooh Hunt” - to help the kids find me in the dark forest when their interest levels were diminishing (the giant yellow suit apparently not enough!) – for similar reasons!

Another highlight was discovering that I could organise as much soccer as I wanted in the free time – since a lot of the kids and Sage (my co-worker) were really into it! – as well as discovering that Sage was no less crazy than me so it looked like being another fun month in Canada – filled with as much banter as I had come to expect from Danny or some of the other landscapers!

As an added bonus, Canadian West Coast summers are pretty hot and I am getting quite a tan – the beach and pool days giving me reason to even out the farmer’s tan and make my body as brown as my arms! My hair is also being naturally bleached by the sun – making me look more like a “surfer type” – which I like.


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