September 12, 2009

Geocaching & Healthcare

I know, I know, what's she going on about now?

I had the most fun yesterday. I was at the Kortright Centre in Woodbridge. Big Brothers Big Sisters has teamed with Standard Life in a 10 year fund-raising initiative to raise awareness and funds for matching the 10,000 kids waiting for a mentor. In the spirit of the campaign ("Be a Kid Again"), we got to scurry around the vast forested area north of Toronto armed with a list of 42 coordinates, and a GPS.

Now, I am not good with GPSs. Not at all. I can't really see the little numbers, and there was the incident last year where I kind of disappeared with a Rolls-Royce for a couple of hours when I couldn't figure out how to work it. The GPS, not the RR.

I got to team with the PR firm coordinating the event, Xposure. We were called the Xposure Xplorers. I decided I was Dora. Four of us set out and were promptly lost. There were about 15 other teams, and some of them you could tell were taking this very, very seriously. You had to figure out from the coordinates where small plastic bins with poker chips were. When you found one, you removed a chip and went to the next one. During the three hour hunt, we hadn't found any chips in the first hour. While the guys mucked with the GPS unit, Pete(another team member), and I, just dawdled along looking for Tupperware in the bushes.

We caught another team actually moving the bin after they found it. I was astounded. Why? Not only did it break the rules, it served no purpose. What's the point of trying to hobble another? We were all ending at the same time, to enjoy a lovely lunch and support a terrific cause. What would make someone so dark?

We soon figured out how to make this snipe hunt work, however. As we crossed with other teams, we were telling them where we'd found targets. We traded information. The fact we were obviously no threat (shaking a wee baggy with two chips in it past the halfway point is a dead giveaway), and a kind of camaraderie developed that was nice. It was a funny little experiment, however. As we approached an obvious 'hit' and encountered another team, there would be a hesitation. I would just flat out ask where the box was. You could see them consider for a moment, then just tell me. I would then try to tell them where the last station was that we'd found one, and any others I could remember.

It was far more fun being cooperative. At the end (we got back to base 45 minutes early. I had to pee), they gave awards for last place and first. We were so sure we'd be last, but no, that went to someone else. I was a little shocked. It had been so difficult for me to even read the GPS thing, I couldn't figure out which way was north. I announced at one point that I would just stand very still, and when moss grew on one side of me, we'd have our north.

There was another Geocaching event being run simultaneously in Montreal. Between the two events, Standard Life raised $200,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. This is astounding. With a decade of dedication, this collaboration will change many, many children's lives.

So now I can say I've been geocaching. It's fun. But it's difficult, and it's hopeless without cooperation. While my contribution was more along the lines of comic relief than navigational wonder, it was fun to watch teams of people of various temperaments work essentially in a 3 hour multi-legged race into the unknown (with mosquitos). It was so obvious if we all worked together, everyone benefited. The whole morning was a blast; I hope I get invited back.

So, why the Healthcare in my title? I read this by Joe Conason in Salon this morning. Why Republicans are such bastards when it comes to healthcare. They won't share their GPS coordinates. They won't tell anyone where the Tupperware is. You know why? Because they already have their chips, and they don't give a crap if you get yours or not. As politicians, or as members of the Richie Riches, they are so buffered by their exceptional health coverage that they do not see the need to help out anyone else.

By this point in my rather turbulent life, I've learned at least one thing: if you are a judgmental, callous, self-centred, miserly, selfish creature, it's because not enough Bad has happened to you yet. You have been insulated from having to extend a helping hand, because you've been lucky enough to never have needed one. Conason points out several Republicans who have finally been moved to climb on board causes for the greater good when finally spurred by their own life altering circumstances.

The Greater Good. What a concept. While 'The Winner Takes it All' (sorry, ABBA) is presented as the great capitalist way, when life has kicked you in the head a few times, you finally understand that sitting in the dark clutching your bank book is unlikely to help you much. I met a wonderful young man yesterday, now grown, who had the good fortune of meeting another exceptional man 13 years ago. A 6 year-old-boy being raised in dangerous turbulence extended a hand by a man who decided he had something to offer a young boy. A man who could have saved himself untold time, effort and money by not reaching out, but did so nonetheless.

I have to tell you, that boy (called a 'Little' in Big Brothers parlance), now 21, is the kind of young man anyone would be proud to call a son, a brother, a friend. How on earth can we go through life not helping others? How long can we judge the less fortunate in an effort to convince ourselves we somehow made all the right decisions? How on earth does a 6-year-old boy extricate himself from a world of pain created by those speaking for him? And how wonderful was it to hear his 'Big' speaking as if he was the one who had been richly rewarded?

Like the politicians in Conason's piece, it shouldn't take a personal catastrophe to make people aware of the suffering of others. Canada's healthcare system is not perfect, but as a friend of mine so succinctly puts it, "when was the last time you did not take your child for medical care because you were worried about the cost?".

We succeed better, and achieve more, when we are all cared for.

We didn't lose yesterday because we told competitors where the Tupperware was. In fact, we finished further than we would have when they helped us.


Anonymous terance brouse said...

Lorraine. Great Post. It was a blast to have you on the team. So much fun. Even if we

BTW, I love Joe Conason. Straight shooter all the way.

Did you ever read his book "The Hunting of the President: The Ten Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton"

best regards

terance brouse

September 13, 2009 12:16 PM  
Anonymous terance brouse said...

Even if we... I left something out there.

Even if we came in second last place. ;)

September 13, 2009 12:18 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Shhhhhhh! I wasn't gonna mention the second last stuff!

I really like Conason, and I've read excerpts of his Clinton book.

And sorry for tying U.S. politics into our geocaching extravaganza. As I'm sure my sister will comment at some point, I am master at sucking the fun out of most things by making it political ;)

September 13, 2009 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Smarty Pants.

It was an interesting link (for a change) ha ha. I think the fact that it wasn't 83 pages long made it readable as well as topical.

your loving sister,

September 14, 2009 1:05 PM  

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