Fall trip with the kids

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Feb 1, 2013
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Just returned from an overnight trip with my students. Our club runs a couple of weekend trips every fall to introduce kids to canoe tripping, and prepare them for the 10 day trip in June. This was our usual first trip, down through Eaglecrest Lake, stopping at the headwaters of the Steel River. Weather on Saturday was very sketchy, with brief periods of sunshine, followed by many periods of rain, and even snow a couple of times. Temperatures were around 4 degrees Celsius.



This shot was taken as we finally got underway, headed down Eaglecrest. Most of our sterns people were experienced on this trip, so we only spent about an hour instructing bow strokes.



The topography in this area is really nice, lots of rolling hills as the watershed makes its way down to Lake Superior.



We had to pull out one of my 20 footers for this trip, as we had one student bail on us at the last minute, and I didn’t feel like going solo.



The girl in the stern is a pretty good canoeist, and she had the newbie in the bow whipped into shape very quickly. Our school is a regional center, which draws kids from communities as far as 50 miles away. About half of the kids on my trips are from local First Nations communities.



Although temperatures were cold, the kids seemed to have a great time sitting around the fire chatting. The obligatory ghost stories were told, as well as a couple of bear stories.



We always have to have a female chaperone on these trips. I was very fortunate to have a former student who is now a nurse accompany us. This is her second trip, and she’s as tough as nails, and a very good paddler.



We were on our way back on the Sunday when this picture was taken. It’s funny, but many of the newbies struggle on the first day. Somehow overnight, the paddling skills we tried to teach them the day before suddenly manifests. Or maybe they just want to get home early.

Don’t think I’ll be running another trip this fall, as moose-hunting season opens early. When the season opens, we are infested with several thousand hunters from all over North America, and I’m fearful to take a bunch of kids in the bush. It’s hard enough to get them to wear rain gear, let alone hunter orange.
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
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Memaquay, My stars I enjoy these reports of yours! That business of improvement overnight: I read somewhere that the brain processes data in dreams and maybe the kids needed time to work through the new experiences while sleeping. I do know in my own experience, that I can get "stuck" on some project out in my little shop and the next morning somehow I've got a solution.

You're wise to stay out of the woods with the kids during hunting season, back when I still hunted, I'd just wait out the first bit of the season, the way I figured it, the low experience, high adrenaline guys would wear themselves out, get disappointed and go home. Then I'd go.

The kids that come from far off, do they board there at the school? If so it must be hard to be away from their families.

Thanks for the report,
Best Wishes,
Rob
 
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Feb 29, 2012
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Schenectady, NY
How great that you get these kids out and about in boats! Hopefully, they will develop a lifelong appreciation of paddling and the outdoors...I suppose it doesn't hurt that you're enjoying it too, huh?? I know I get almost as much enjoyment at watching folks learning new skills as being out there myself! And, hey, I like that 20 footer you have there.
 
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Jul 31, 2011
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Aberdeen, MD
Love to see kids getting out... wonder if there's any relationship between early outings and success in later life (JK. I KNOW there's a relationship). Good on you for helping! That 20'-er looks like a stripper... did you make it?

That business of improvement overnight: I read somewhere that the brain processes data in dreams and maybe the kids needed time to work through the new experiences while sleeping. I do know in my own experience, that I can get "stuck" on some project out in my little shop and the next morning somehow I've got a solution.

re this, I believe it's absolutely true... I always did better in school when I studied later at night, just before bedtime, and gave myself a good night's sleep to process the info. And in real life, I've struggled with a creative problem at work for an entire week, gathering new data each day, and finally, after a weekend of not thinking about it, come to a workable solution when I woke up Monday morning... It's so predictable/normal now that I've come to rely on it.
 
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Feb 1, 2013
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Rob....the kids actually bus in and return home each day. Some kids are on the bus for about 2.5 hours every day. Don't know how they do it!

The 20 footer is a stripper I built, based on the 18.5 foot Quetico design by John Winters. It's the ideal canoe for two smallish people and one large person. When all three are paddling, they really fly.

As for that overnight learning stuff...it has to be true. Every year I see it repeated. For some reason, on that first day, no matter what i do, some kids can't get the concept of a correction stroke. I explain the theory behind it, do multiple demonstrations, and even hold their hands on the paddle and guide them through the stroke. They basically zig-zag the whole ten k to camp. Other kids take to it immediately, they have a good kinesthetic sense I guess.

Ironically enough, I had one kid on this trip replicating the results of a conversation we had on this site. His canoe kept turning to his onside, with no correction strokes. I thought he was lilly dipping, and that perhaps his bows-person was overpowering him, but when I asked the bowsperson to stop paddling, he was still doing it. I couldn't figure it out, so I taught him a sweep stroke, and told him that when his canoe started to veer to the onside, to sweep real hard. This solved the problem temporarily. The next morning he was paddling straight as an arrow with a goon stroke. Sometimes it just defies analysis.
 
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As for that overnight learning stuff...it has to be true. Every year I see it repeated. For some reason, on that first day, no matter what i do, some kids can't get the concept of a correction stroke. I explain the theory behind it, do multiple demonstrations, and even hold their hands on the paddle and guide them through the stroke. They basically zig-zag the whole ten k to camp. Other kids take to it immediately, they have a good kinesthetic sense I guess.

Ironically enough, I had one kid on this trip replicating the results of a conversation we had on this site. His canoe kept turning to his onside, with no correction strokes. I thought he was lilly dipping, and that perhaps his bows-person was overpowering him, but when I asked the bowsperson to stop paddling, he was still doing it. I couldn't figure it out, so I taught him a sweep stroke, and told him that when his canoe started to veer to the onside, to sweep real hard. This solved the problem temporarily. The next morning he was paddling straight as an arrow with a goon stroke. Sometimes it just defies analysis.

I wonder who that was? :eek:

My issue was actually the other way, but close enough. Still happens too... only in that particular boat. I just conceded trying to paddle 'properly' and I paddle the same side as the bow when it happens.

I'd be damned if I know exactly why, and I've decided I don't care. My paddling is my better when I think less and just do.
 
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Sep 13, 2013
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Long Island, NY
It's great to see kids outside and smiling. It's hard to "unplug" them but once they get over it they start having fun.

Good for you, Memaquay for making it happen. It has to be rewarding for everyone involved.

The 20' stripper is awesome!
 
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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
I really enjoy these trips and I study the pictures trying to learn more about the folks on the trip. Kids laughing around a campfire speaks for itself, best pair of paddling and camping gloves, still useful when the trip is done imo.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
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Location
Burlington, Ontario
Hello memaquay: As usual, a fine report. Those kids are very fortunate to have dedicated staff like yourself to introduce them to canoe tripping. I look forward to checking out the June 2014 report.

Take care,
Cousin Pete
 
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