After a bit more than a week of our LIT’s being back from their canoe trip, the blog outlining their experiences is finally being posted! I’m happy to announce that everyone made it through with nothing but good stories and memories to tell. Our fearless leaders, Maggie Sider, Conor Klassen, Amanda & Matt Reist, and Jared Long, were amazing in guiding the whole trip, and our LIT’s were impressive in their constantly positive attitudes.
The LIT’s and their leaders left fairly early on Tuesday morning, getting on the water by 10, and getting to their campsite around 3 in the afternoon. There was only excitement as everyone piled into their canoes with their partners, and all feelings of tiredness were swept away as they paddled to their campsite. This year, the group continued a system that was tested last year, where all the tents were kept on one island while everyone went on day trips. This was instead of constantly moving around and re-locating all their stuff. Maggie really liked this system, especially during the portaging elements of the trip, where she was thankful that she didn’t have to be carrying extra baggage on her back. Everyone agreed that it was nice to come back to the campsite from their visits to beaches and waterfalls and not have to worry about setting everything up, and just having to worry about food.
Speaking of food, meals were kept fairly simple but were very familiar to young students who lack in the culinary arts. Peanut butter & nutella wraps, oatmeal, pasta, and tuna wraps were some of the dishes on the menu, and were consumed with great enthusiasm as the constant exercise added to hungry stomachs. Bags were filled with the classic canoe trip snack, GORP (“good old raisins & peanuts”, basically trail mix), but I was told that everyone was pretty sick of it by the end. Some people ended up accidentally leaving their bags outside, and were very surprised to wake up the next morning to the sound of chipmunks fighting over their snack. From what I can tell, nobody was too upset about it!
The theme for this year’s canoe trip was “Survivor”! The LIT’s were split into 3 groups, and had to compete in different challenges against each other throughout the trip. One of these challenges, I was told, was a game that involved seeing how long everyone could stand on one leg with a bowl of water on their heads. People started dropping out one-by-one, but Matt Ruegg and Caleb Brenneman faced off for about 40 minutes before succumbing to their tiredness. There was also a lot of “Mafia” that was played, a true classic canoe trip game! A funny challenge that the LIT’s also played occurred when 3 water bottles were hidden around the island, and whoever found them gained the rights to go straight to a shower as soon as they returned home, without having to help unpack the canoes and tents. Caleb Larsen, Adriana Mabbott, and Matt Reugg found these hidden bottles and won this privilege!
Another event that occurred every night was an election to gain points, where the three teams would award one person in their group the “Best Leader” title for the day – these points would be important for the end of the trip!
As any time when you’re with all your friends, there’s going to be some funny moments, especially when you’re tired and in the middle of nowhere. This canoe trip was filled with Judd’s impressions (from Peter Swanson to Shaggy & Scooby Doo), Taylor Swift Karaoke (with Adriana, Kayla, Marissa, and Juliet all joining in – I can’t imagine the guys were too impressed), and Jared’s amazing paddle story. Jared, along with all the other group members, were paddling through Manitou Lake with strong winds blowing against them. He was getting pretty tired and annoyed, and was praying in his head, “Please God, give me a break”. The next stroke he took, his paddle completely snapped in half! That definitely wasn’t the break he was looking for!
Overall, the weather was great for this trip. Tanned faces greeted us when everyone walked back into the lodge Friday afternoon, proving that the sun was a definite constant throughout the days they were gone. To ultimately end the trip, the LIT’s and their leaders gathered in the Pine Room to complete one more task. In true Survivor fashion, everyone voted between the top 3 LIT’s that had the most votes from previous “Best Leader” wins, for the title of “Ultimate Leader”. Kayla Foster ended up winning this prestigious award! We’re all super proud of this year’s group of LIT’s for their courage and for overall being amazing additions to the Camp family!
I sat down with Matt and Amanda after the trip was done and asked the important questions: “Why is it so important to go on these canoe trips? What is the purpose of them?” They talked about how it’s an amazing opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, as well as the multiple benefits of leadership development by taking on tasks that wouldn’t otherwise be available. There’s always times for team-bonding, and although there’s trying moments, (headwind on the lake, for example), there is a sense of community to get through it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, you get to practice getting out of an individualistic mindset, and it’s also extremely fun!
Blog By: Karley Sider