As we say goodbye to 2017 and look forward to the open waters and blue skies of 2018, here is a glimpse of the smiles and adventures of last summer.
Wabun C: On the morning of July 6th the Wabun C boys paddled in from their 8-day trip to Hobart Lake
via Lady Evelyn lake. On their trip they took a rest day to climb the popular “Maple Mountain” and snap some beautiful photos. Once they returned to base camp, they finished their section chores quickly so that they could have some valuable free time. The boys got a chance to play “Mafia” with the Cayuga C girls section and write some letters home. Today they are hoping to complete a base-camp compass orienteering course and have some relaxation time before they head back out tomorrow and have some more fun in the bush. The boys leave tomorrow morning for their 9-day trip to the Temagami River.
Cayuga C: On the morning of July 6th, the Cayuga girls section also paddled onto the shores of Wabun beach. Most of these girls have tripped together before, whether it was last year or in years prior, and as they returned from this trip it was nice to see that the girls have again formed an amazingly cohesive section. Canoe tripping certainly bonds kids together in a special way. These girls were also on an 8-day trip, going to, among others, Cross Lake and Wasaksina Lake. They had an especially fun evening at “The Heights” campsite, where they created “Hammock City.” These girls are pros – back at base camp they finished their section work quickly, and today they are re-outfitting their provisions and getting ready for their next trip: 10 days to Mountain Lake. Today, they have a fun-filled day planned before they head back out to do some hard (but rewarding and fun) work in the bush.
Wabun B: This morning, July 7th, the Wabun B boys paddled in from a 9-day trip to Hobart Lake via Diamond and Obabika lakes. They also enjoyed a climb up “Maple Mountain,” although on a different day than the Wabun C boys made the ascent. Amazingly, they saw a five eagles
and five otters on their trip. When the boys returned to Wabun, they were greeted with hugs by the sections and base camp staff on the beach, and then began to swiftly unload their canoes like professionals. The communication, camaraderie, and cooperation these young men demonstrated in the simple act of effectively and efficiently unloading their canoes and taking their gear up to their cabin offers a small window into their strong bond and interdependence. For the next two days they will be busily preparing to head out for their 4-week trip down the Missinaibi River. The Missinaibi is a beautiful river to the northwest of Temagami that ultimately flows into James Bay. Once their trip is through, they will load all their canoes and gear onto a train and take an awesome ride back south from the coast toward Wabun. This river and trip is a favorite among many Wabun staff/alumni, and the boys are sure to have an unforgettable time.
On July 2nd the Wenonah girls section paddled in from their first trip. After 4 days in the bush, paddling around Lake Temagami and KoKoKo Lake, the five girls returned with stronger tripping skills and stronger muscles! The group then spent two days at base camp, doing laundry, cleaning out their tents, and re-outfitting their food for the upcoming trip. Although their last trip offered quite a bit of rain, the girls kept their spirits high, and they were rewarded by paddling back out in gorgeous sunny weather this morning. They are now on a five-day trip through Cross and Wasaksina Lakes, a route well-traveled by Camp Wabun.
The Wabun E boys trip arrived on the morning of July 3rd. The new campers are getting the hang of the “Wabun Way,” and the seasoned campers are becoming be even better trippers by learning to stern in the “camper canoe” and carry that canoe on portages. The boys also did their laundry and re-outfitted, etc., and they found some time to relax by challenging the Wenonah girls to “Catchphrase” and a ball game called “Nuke ‘Em.” Wabun E will leave tomorrow on their 9-day trip to Mountain Lake.
Both trips took some time to write letters home, swim off the Wabun dock, and some even took a keen interest in learning to tie knots. Although base camp is fun, and offers some of the comforts of home (like dining room tables and bed bunks), all the staff and campers of these two trips certainly are/will be excited to return to the bush and the simple comforts that come along with that life.
I think it was the car ride home when she said it. Jo was in the back seat gazing out the window, far from her canoe’s stern seat on the Missinaibi River. But I think that’s what she was seeing in her mind’s eye, the long view over water and scrubby vegetation that opens up to the sky of the far north:
“You know, the more beautiful stuff you look at, the healthier your eyes get.”
All summer this theory, proposed by her bowman Annie, had been a guiding point for them. Living with the land, following the water, reading the sky, their journey took them far from the ease of home. With each sunset or waterfall, I imagine them turning to each other knowing that yes, their eyes were growing stronger, and so was their friendship, their inner strength, their physical endurance, their freedom.