Nearly once a week for the last five years, our family along with dozens and dozens (maybe even a dozen more after that) of others have gotten together out on the trails of the Comox Valley and Campbell River, B.C. on beautiful Vancouver Island. We’ve waded through the water, thrown a fair bit of mud, discovered endless numbers of creatures, fungus, plants, eaten berries and spent so much time trading stories about nearly everything in the book.
It is where some of our deepest friendships began, where we had the honor to watch children go from wee babes into preschoolers and say goodbye to them as they headed off to school. Those walks brought so many of us a much needed sense of connection to the Comox Valley and to each other. Moms and dads found their grooves on the path while the kids became tiny stewards of the Earth.
We remember when we began the walks, wayyy back when. We hadn’t been in the Comox Valley more than about 18 months and still found ourselves discovering bits and pieces of places and spaces, how they shifted through the seasons, what little treasures could be found at certain times.We were in love.
Some sessions we had 50 kids on the trail with us. Others, maybe just a handful. But, those adventures, watching as the faces of kids lit up with discovery, they found their way of being and working with each other and parents getting broken in to the concept of dirt and goo was amazing.
Even now, as the same trails are walked with kiddos, we can see and hear the voices of so many others. We’ve always believed that the magic of childhood is all about spending as much time outside, seeing what you can see, playing hard and getting dirty. Kids pretty much agree with me. We’ve rarely met one who thought a morning out on the trail checking out slugs and turning over rocks was a lame idea.
This past Spring, we hosted OBE’s last NeighbourWood Walk in the Comox Valley and it hit us that we had come to the end of something that had been the cornerstone of why OBE began – simple ways of connecting families. We remain pretty choked up about stepping away. Kids will still head out into the forest, that is for sure. You don’t need OBE to do that. But, we loved the walks and the families who came back year after year, or took breaks and came back when one of their kids was ready. We met so many families who discovered the Valley through the walks after just moving here too. Whatever the case, it was all about connection.
We look through the pictures from the last five years with so much love and smiles. Having watched our oldest grow up out there, a part of it all, leaves us even more sentimental for what had become a staple in our lives.
As we say goodbye, the kids behind the faces in the nearly 1,000 photos that captured 20 seasons of trails and beaches are now so much bigger, into different things. But, they still remember those times without fail. The NeighbourWood Walks – five years in the forest. Those were some very, very good years.
Check out the collection of photography we have amassed over the years from NeighbourWood Walks and related events HERE. We’ve so loved every minute of spending time with all of you.
And for the even better news, Mherge Media Group will be launching a national NeighbourWood Walks campaign in 2013. Can’t wait to see all of you out there.