Archives - May, 2013

25 May 13

Northland Adventure: the charity begun by Ed Spaulding to empower and heal people through adventure therapy and education.

My name is Ed Spaulding. To date, I have rescued one adult, and two children from drowning; saved one child’s life with the Heimlich maneuver, rescued a baby from an overturned vehicle, and been the first responder for many a 911 call.

As fate would have it, I didn’t perform these rescues while I was an EMT traveling in an ambulance full of equipment–all of these instances happened when I was off duty. But on or off duty, fate found me and called me to help strangers in need.

However, even when confronted by fate, we have the choice to walk the other direction. Helping people often carries risks with it, especially when we are called to help people we don’t know and the emotional stakes are low. Each of the aforementioned incidents posed a serious risk either through exposure to infection by biohazards or by potentially placing my own life in danger.

I want to be as prepared as possible to answer the call of fate in these situations, so I’ve made the choice to minimize the risk by getting trained as a lifeguard, as an EMT, as a wilderness first responder, as a psychologist, and by carrying a medical kit in my car.

Adventure education experts operate under the philosophy that youth and adults learn best through experience.

This power of prevention became even more evident to me shortly after my time as an EMT, while working with adjudicated youth in a wilderness therapy program on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. While there, I learned if we could just prevent the problem before it resulted in an emergency call, we could not only save a person’s life, but we could often change the course of a person’s life in the long run, preventing this disaster and the rippling traumatic effects it would have on their family, friends, and their community.

As a part of this program, I was able to help over 500 youth–but nonetheless, as a single person, I still couldn’t make as much as a difference as I wanted to.

That’s what led me to develop an idea: to create an organization that seeks to empower and heal people through adventure therapy and education. Our environment is critical in our development as people and in what we value and learn. In a wilderness environment, we learn to value other people, the basics of life, and the parts of ourselves that create a thriving community. These values prevent many of the problems we read about every day in the paper or hear of through the news.

"Come experience Northland Adventure!"

Northland Adventure Education and Therapy Center has become the vehicle for this idea. This 501c3 non-profit, fully-insured organization is dedicated to promoting education, research, and mental and physical health through adventure education and therapy programs. The idea has become a reality.

But we need your support! We hope to achieve many things: to expand our summer camp program to include a day-care for younger children; to build an outdoor classroom for year-round programming; to provide canine-assisted therapy; and to develop a sailing program on Lake Champlain for experiential education by recreating Samuel Champlain’s boat. We have been asked to provide group programming for veterans returning from combat, and we have been working hard to provide group programming for substance abuse prevention and treatment.

Please support us in this worthy cause! I hope you can help us help others and show the world that the kindness of strangers happens every day.

Northland Adventure


18 May 13

By Kathy Dunn

From Randy's introduction at a school presentation, read by a blind student

For many of us we read about Randy’s speaking engagements and the interactions he has with the children in our communities.  However we don’t always have a chance to see them firsthand.

Donavan reading his introduction

Randy and Donavan enjoying a few moments together

I was lucky to have this chance as I traveled with Randy from Dover, New Hampshire to Portland, Maine. I watched a great deal of these speaking engagements through my camera lens, which I hope gives you a chance to see Randy sharing his message.

Our morning began at Woodland Park Elementary School in Dover. We received a wonderful greeting at the door from Donavan who would be introducing Randy to his entire school. Donavan is in the second grade, and like Randy, he is blind.  He read his introduction using Braille and with much exuberance told his fellow classmates that Randy climbs mountains, has a dog named The Mighty Quinn, and asked “Did you know he is also blind like me?”

"I have a question!" Woodland Park Elementary School

The students were incredibly attentive to Randy and I am certain it wasn’t only because of his cute dog. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I probably took 15 pictures of Quinn alone in his cute dog poses.) Students asked thoughtful questions and kept their hands raised in hopes of being able to ask the next question.

Woodland Park Elementary School

Portland, Maine was our next stop to speak to the students at East End Community School. They heard about some of Randy’s initial challenges and the progression of his vision loss. Randy also talked about the work that Quinn provides for him and the independence it continues to give him in his life.

East End Community School

Randy showing the kids how he uses technology to help him in his life

Randy and Quinn having a hug at the end of a presentation

Most importantly, Randy communicated his message encouraging children to accomplish the things they want in their life. Randy’s words: if they try… if they work hard… they can do it. Don’t give up in the face of the challenges. Keep working. You can do it.

These words were well received to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students as well as this student of life.

WCSH Channel 6 saying hello to Quinn

If having three presentations thus far was not enough, we dropped in at WCSH Channel 6 as Randy was being interviewed by Rob Cadwell for their “207” program. After the interview, Quinn got the “Off Duty” call from Randy and could enjoy some hard earned love from some of his new fans.

Our day did not stop there as we were now headed to the University of Southern Maine to attend the Guiding Eyes of Maine event. I learned something new about Quinn and I think we now share something in common: we like puppies.

Now, the Mighty Quinn is diligent in his work like none other and always the consummate canine professional. But you put a few other canine professionals in the room and it is like a reunion!

Do I really need to give a caption to puppies?

“Hiiiiiiiiii!  I’m Quinn!  Who are you?!?!?!  I am so excited to see you!!!!! Oh wait… was I supposed to be taking Randy someplace right now?”

While Randy was doing some meet and greets before his next speaking engagement, I headed over to the see the future canine professionals… the pups!

The finale of our day was Randy speaking to an audience of all different ages and all different abilities about his journey and his future. As it was said in the introduction of Randy “[he] makes the most out of life and will make you want to do the same.”

We all have abilities in our lives.  Some come with known and unknown challenges, however we need to see beyond them. We need to work beyond them.

We can’t have these challenges hold us back.  We can get to where we want to be. Simply put… we can.

Randy presents at Guiding Eyes of Maine event


11 May 13

By Randy Pierce

I have been privileged to speak at many events for many different audiences. This week’s opportunity feels particularly special as I prepare a commencement address for the White Mountain Community College.

Given this is my first commencement, I thought some research appropriate. One of my discoveries was the presentation at the 2012 Wellesley High School commencement I’ll keep in mind for this upcoming opportunity and similarly for my high school alma mater, Colebrook Academy, in June.

“You are Not Special” is a powerful, albeit controversial, presentation by David McCullough, Jr., an English teacher at Wellesley High. While I felt he began weakly, many powerful points joined his insightful and “incite-full” commentary. The final few minutes hold the crux of his message and I suggest it is a worthy listen for all of us.

Capturing just one of his quotes which resonated for me: “Climb the mountain so that you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” It is within the experiences we should find the most value, not the accolades. Our best achievements are in the choices we make, not the accomplishments we recite. There is potency to the dichotomy that if everyone is special then nobody is special.

This does not mean that we are not all uniquely talented nor that we may not all achieve very worthy goals. Indeed, should we choose to reach for worthy goals, we very well may find ourselves achieving them.

A commencement is a beginning. It is given at the start of the next phase of the graduates’ lives. How challenging it is to attempt to impart upon those present a spark of wisdom or inspiration from the tinder of years of their own efforts at developing their lives, helped by the influence of so many dedicated teachers, family and friends. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity and will try to share a bit of the vision I’ve developed through my experiences. The full depth of the message I’ll save for my time with those graduates.

For now, I reflect upon the tagline of our 2020 Vision Quest which is to “Achieve a Vision Beyond Your Sight.” This is not only to develop a vision beyond your sight but to achieve it. There’s a fair bit of work involved in both of those steps; fortunately, there is an incredible reward in reaching for those goals and more still in persevering and working hard enough for the achievement as well.


4 May 13

By Randy Pierce

In 2010, we founded 2020 Vision Quest with a charitable mission and a goal to summit all 48 of the peaks rising above 4,000 feet in New Hampshire. While our historic single winter season accomplishment achieved a portion of that goal, we are proud to have worked through a very significant and differently challenging quest to reach them without the benefit winter snows bring to my blind footsteps. Twelve peaks remain between us and successfully achieving our original goal.

Our first hike will begin on Cannon mountain, once home to the symbol of NH. While the cliffs forming the visage of the Old Man collapsed a decade ago, the mountain remains dear to NH. It is the location where my winter quest culminated and is appropriate for launching this final season in style. We hope many hikers and non-hikers may be around to celebrate with us either on the trails or at the summit via the hike or the tram! We of course will be taking the trails both ways.

Our hiking day will not end at the end of trailhead for Cannon, however. We’ll quickly resupply and perhaps adjust some of the members in our group before crossing to the other side of the Franconia Notch and setting upon the Old Bridle path. Saturday’s travels are intended to end at the AMC Greenleaf hut.

This will set the stage for an early morning summit of Mt. Lafayette, which allows for an incredibly stunning ridge walk over to our actual goal, Mt. Lincoln! We’ll hopefully enjoy lunch atop this famous president’s peak and reflect upon the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg before descending via the Falling Waters trail which I have jokingly referred to as “Falling Blind Guy” due to the challenges of this trail in our winter journey.

Thus will our season begin with a pair of peaks necessary to complete our quest in our fourth year of what was originally intended as a more leisurely ten-year goal. Ten peaks will still remain to finish our non-winter 48 and the season of celebration will be underway. I expect to hike many more mountains in NH and perhaps beyond once the 2020 Vision Quest accomplishment is complete. I will relish the freedom to repeat any hike any time inspiration and inclination converge to give me this opportunity.

Still, this season will be a little special because I will have allowed a vision to guide me to heights I once did not imagine possible! If all goes well, the Lincoln Woods Parking area will host many friends on August 24 as we visit Mt. Flume for the completion of the season and the Quest.

Let the hikes begin!


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