I don't remember when I learned how to paddle a canoe, but I certainly know when
canoeing became an important part of my life. It happened when I was in high school
when I had the opportunity to travel to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario as part
of a Methodist Church camp.
Algonquin is a beautiful place with hundreds of lakes
connected by rivers and trails. We would travel several miles each day,
carrying all of our gear whenever we needed to walk to the next lake. Everyone
was responsible for helping with the daily chores, whether it was cooking,
cleaning up or setting up our sleeping quarters using WW II era canvas tarps.
All of this was hard work, but it was wonderful, even though the tarps we used
were way too heavy and did nothing to protect you from the swarms of ravenous
In Algonquin, I learned about hard work and I learned
about teamwork. I also learned about forgiveness when one of the more clumsy
members of our group managed to dump a bunch of us into the water when we were
out fishing one night.
I returned to Algonquin the next three years, thoroughly
enjoying each trip. Once he was old enough, my brother joined me on these
trips. In the years since, I've returned to Algonquin a few times on my own.
One of these trips was in August of 1999. You can
read more about this trip.