Sand and Stories

Posted on August 2, 2011 by 1 Comment

Like Kim Hunter, Lagrant Foundation, guest blogged about last week for PRWeek, I’m a big proponent of empowering our people to “get away.” However, it’s one thing to say you support people being out, and another to model that behavior as a leader. 

To that end, for the past 12 years, we had a family reunion at Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, B.C. The summer week centered on building sand castles, kayaking, cooking dinners (for 24 people) AND wrecking sand castles, overturning kayaks, eating too much. Many of the years, we could build huge bonfires on the beach and roast marshmallows on carved sticks while singing along with the kids on their guitars. I am not sure why my husband and brother-in-law never brought their accordion and fiddle. Go figure. For my part, I would think up elaborate stories in advance and then tell them to the kids — the scarier the better.

After so many years of going to the same place, we decided to change the venue to create new allure for kids getting older, including surfing and being out on the ocean. Our destination of choice: Tofino, B.C., which sits on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on the edge of the vast Pacific Ocean, in Pacific Rim National Park.

Traveling to and from Tofino is part of the holiday. It includes a two-hour ferry ride and a three-hour drive from Nanaimo, B.C., on a road that takes you past one of the deepest lakes in the world, straight into the wilderness. We visited here before but never with a large family contingency ― 18 people ranging from 10 weeks to 86 years old. Unfortunately, our daughter couldn’t join because she is in summer school studying physics, described by her as “a delightful topic. Not.”

There is no shortage of sand on Long Beach, which is six miles long, and great for long walks AND sand forts. Our sand fort was hexagonal, with two drawbridge openings over the moat. Our seven-year-old nephew yelled to me, “OK, you are the mighty army, and you come steal the castle when we are at lunch. When we come back, we’ll have a battle, and we will totally win.” Thankfully, our four-year-old niece took my hand and says, “It’s all right, we won’t kill you and you aren’t a troll — you can just be a girl.”

There is so much to do in Tofino that you could spend an entire summer biking, hiking, kayaking, boating, surfing, fishing and playing numerous beach games. I also love the First Nations’ stories about the area’s origins. Yesterday, we looked for a keepsake to capture the essence and came upon an original, carved talking stick.


Talking sticks are owned by Nuu-chah-nulth hereditary chiefs and used extensively during the many different ceremonies and events that the chief may host. Every Nuu-chah-nulth chief has a speaker, who holds the talking stick when speaking for the chief. This way, if a mistake is made, it is the speaker’s mistake, not the chief.

Telling stories is a huge part of my personal and professional life, and now that I am back at work, I have to say I sure wish I had a talking stick sometimes.

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One Comment

Kathy Aus on August 3, 2011

I agree with your niece, you are not a troll and thank god for little girls! Great story and vacation, thank you for sharing Melissa.

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