The son of a master thief asked his father to teach him the secrets of the trade. The old thief agreed and that night took his son to burglarize a large house. While the family was asleep, he silently led his young apprentice into a room that contained a clothes closet. The father told his son to go into the closet to pick out some clothes. When he did, his father quickly shut the door and locked him in. Then he went back outside, knocked loudly on the front door, thereby waking the family, and quickly slipped away before anyone saw him. Hours later, his son returned home, bedraggled and exhausted. “Father,” he cried angrily, “Why did you lock me in that closet? If I hadn’t been made desperate by my fear of getting caught, I never would have escaped. It took all my ingenuity to get out!” The old thief smiled. “Son, you have had your first lesson in the art of burglary.”

My Son, Dane, 14 years old, has been begging me to take him to on an expedition, with big waterfalls, so he, too, could become an expedition boater, and run the knarr. I finally accepted the 4’9” 80 pounders request and he accompanied our team to Newfoundland. His excitement never seemed to be balanced by any concern over the “what ifs” of any unknown adventure and he needed to choose wisely.

When we spotted a monstrous cascading creek coming off the side of a mountain bluff about two miles away we began our trek through the wild landscape with our kayaks on our backs forging our own trail. The first 50 footer landed on rocks, but a few large cascades below were runnable. Dane was eager to go first on each, but I made him wait for safety at the bottom; namely me. Finally, on the third and most difficult one, one that others walked around, Dane crashed into the rocks at the bottom and was ejected from his kayak instantly, being forced to the bottom by the water and not surfacing for 45 seconds of violent pummeling.

His Dad pulled him to shore, as he was gasping for breath and crying from the magnitude of the experience and the fear it instilled. Alive and unhurt. “Now”, I told him, “you are becoming an expedition boater.” “Now you will look at each challenge with more care.” No more than two minutes later, Nick ran the same drop, but pitched over upside down in mid air and nailed his head as his stern landed in 10” of water from 30’ up. He knocked himself out and was dazed for hours afterwards as we nursed him back to the truck. Dane stopped crying and helped Nick get his helmet off. Dane had learned his second lesson; he is part of a team and any weakness on his part, is dangerous to the team.

– Eric Jackson

The Master Thief|Eric Jackson

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