Editorial: Everyone who watched the recent British royal wedding of Will and Kate probably heard that Prince William—like many Brits—took a gap year between high school and university. During that year he took survival exercises with the Welsh Guards in Belize (sleeping in a hammock strung between trees), volunteered in Chile (where he helped construct walkways from log posts and taught English in local schools), and worked on a dairy farm in the UK (rising before dawn to milk cows and perform ‘mucky jobs’). Gap year is not as common in North America as it is in Britain and Australia but I am a great supporter of taking some time away from one’s accustomed pressures and expectations before moving on to the next stage in life.
This month, we are profiling three gap-year experiences. Each took place in a different decade and all were shaped and marked by their time. Volunteering on a kibbutz in Israel was not all that unusual for an adventurous Canadian in 1973 (okay, okay, not everyone was doing it) and probably similar to volunteering in Central or South America today.
I worked in the Rocky Mountains and hitchhiked up the Alaska Highway to Canada’s north during my gap year. Still today, that part of Canada attracts young people from around the world who go there to ski, snowboard, hike, work, and meet other young people. It is a gap year destination and a mighty grand place for people of all ages.
So while the Canadian wilderness may be “home” to me, it is “unlike home” to many visitors to this site. This month, I want to welcome you to my backyard, my home!