January 10, 2017
People do extraordinary things every day. By that I mean everyday people being called “crazy” and instead leaving us nonbelievers breathless. I mean when two teenagers embark on a 2,200-mile journey by canoe from their backyard in Chaska, Minn. to the Hudson Bay. Yeah. That’s the incredible story of Adventure North: two friends who spent 49 days in the wilderness proving everyone wrong and following their dream.
Do you remember the old days? Just sippin’ on Hi-C juice boxes at recess, bragging about how we were going to do something epic? Back then, our dreams changed as much as the seasons, but that desire never leaves you. It’s rare to actually see those dreams come to fruition. We make excuses, or life throws you a curveball and we take a more “realistic” path. Sean Bloomfield, author of Adventure North, knew he would take this adventure in the 7th grade after finding inspiration from a book his father passed down. There was hardly a doubt in his mind, and he made it a reality.
Now, I’m (kinda) realistic. I know you can’t necessarily “do whatever you want when you grow up.” I’m a 26-year-old millennial who has a quarter-life crisis at least once every other week. I’m NOT the next Julia Roberts like I said I would be when I was 13, but I am trying to tell you that yes, you can do anything you set your mind to. Anything. But guess what — it’s not easy. My advice? Well, I don’t have any. Luckily, I got great advice after chatting with Sean about his incredible journey with Adventure North.
The first is taking everything one step at a time. Breathe and break it down. How often do you look at a task and just cower under the weight of its size and expectation?! Always. Sean says, “Break it down into more manageable chunks. Planning, doing something that’s small but similar, etc.” He goes on to say, “Once you get the ball rolling…eventually, the big dream or adventure doesn’t seem so daunting at all…it’s just the natural next step.”
In addition, Sean highly encourages having shared dreams. (When has the buddy-system ever failed us?) Not only can you share your passion with someone as enthusiastic as you, but somebody is always “there to bring you back if you stray.” Most importantly, Sean says, “You also have somebody relying on you… when one of us began to doubt [the trip] would happen, the other would pull us back in.” I love this because it’s like one of the best sports lessons ever. It’s one thing to let yourself down, but it’s another thing entirely to let the team down. Friends don’t let friends give up!
Now here comes my favorite part. What I took most from the story, and our interview, is the need to use doubters, naysayers, even maybe some haters to fuel you. They should light a fire in you just as much as your own passion. Sean had people dismiss him. Sean’s own parents fought against him. So he did something about it. He proved to his parents (and himself even more) that he wasn’t messing around. Sean and his friend and paddle partner, Colton Witte, took a practice trip through 150 miles of the St. Croix River. Then, they went 450 miles from Lake of the Woods, along the Canadian border, to Lake Superior. From there, the doubting turned into miles of support from the entire community. It was all systems go, with quitting entirely out of the question.
I don’t think I mentioned yet that Sean is also a twentysomething millennial. After graduating from Minnesota State University-Mankato, he now teaches 8th grade social studies at Chaska Middle School West, the community he grew up in and now lives with his wife and kids. (I’ll also add his wife and I are pretty tight…#GoSkippers)
It can be done. Even when the world feels like it’s ending — we are not helpless. Even when others tell you it’s impossible. We have the ability to make our futures great and make the seemly impossible possible. We just need to listen to our dreams. And maybe grab a paddle.