August 19, 2019 Column
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Youth outdoor adventure trips, like many things, can be affected in many ways. Things like weather, equipment failures, injuries, and especially group dynamices all have a big impact. As everyone knows, you just roll with the punches. Sometimes the stars align, and sometimes they don't.
Last week's BWCA trip was our 25th in as many years, and we've learned a few things along the way. Our equipment is improved and refined, our food choices evolved, and much more. We feel we lead exceptional wilderness canoe outings, and this year's five-day trip was a testament to that.
MaKayla (Gottwald) Deneffe was an incredibly engaged Trail Guard as a youth, enthusiastically taking part in everything we offered. She was thrilled to start co-leading our Boundary Waters trips last year, and was able to return this year for what we hope will be a continuing thing.
Also along this year was leader-in-training Adam Swanson from St. Paul. Adam, who turned 16 during our trip, has already bicycled coast-to-coast across our country, through parts of Cuba and Europe, and many other places. He has been winter camping in the BWCA since he was quite young, and comes with a both a wealth of experience and a longtime family history with me, personaly. He's a perfect fit who not only instantly bonded with our Trail Guard paddlers, but who was also invaluable as a camp-hand and decisioin maker.
"Operation Beaver" helped him feel right at home. Adam's birthday was on the fourth day of the trip, and the operation began the day before. The boys were charged with taking Adam fishing for two hours. I said that even if they had to hit him over the head with a rock (I was JOKING), he had to be gone for two hours.
MaKayla and I baked a beautiful chocolate cake in a home-made double-boiler oven contraption that worked perfectly, then hid it hanging high in the woods to cool overnight. The girls mounted it on a flat rock "platter," decorated it with frosting, speckles, and candles, and we gave him a spectacular surprise party the morning he turned sixteen - complete with a nice camp cook-kit in birthday wrap with a ribbon and card signed by all in our group. I don't think he'll forget that one anytime soon! And the rock platter is now resting proudly in his home in St. Paul.
This year's BWCA crew: Katie Sibila, Bridgit Kruger, Lindsey Winter, Colin Lahr, and Trenen Pierskalla. Thanks to all of you for making this trip successful and unforgettable.