Wow! In just the first couple meetings since our last blog post, the crew has already come so far. Some of the new skills we have learned include: knots, how to set up a proper tarp, how to flip a canoe and portage, as well as paddling. Within these few meetings, I have also started to see our crew become a lot closer and more open with one another. The woods around basecamp is  filled with laughter and encouragement as crews learn new things together once again. 

A lot of these skills are new to the guys in the crew, but they have all tackled them head on and have been excelling together. A huge accomplishment for all is learning to flip the 80lb canoe properly onto your shoulders by yourself. This usually takes several tries to get, but the guys did a fantastic job and wasted no time learning the new skill. The guys even got to practice portaging down Pine Point Rd. to simulate the distance of a portage we will see on trail. The guys portaged in pairs and were instructed to learn the coolest thing their partner has done (Everyone has done some amazing things!!!!). At the tennis courts on Pine Point, the guys flipped the canoe down and switched with their partners as they made their way back. 

A crucial skill that is also used everyday for tents, tarps, or canoes is knots. We have learned a few of the very important knots like the bowline, double half-hitch, tautline, truckers hitch, and clove hitch. To practice these knots more, we practiced around chairs in basecamp, trees outside, and  setting up a tarp at basecamp. We set up a tarp so that if it is ever raining in camp, or even over night, then we can have an area that is dry for packs, or an area to cook. The crew used the truckers hitch to create what is called the ridge line, which is the rope that the tarp will lay over. Next, the guys learned about creating "stakes" with rope, sticks, and rocks, since in the Canadian shield we are unable to use stakes in the ground. By tying a bowline to the tarp and wrapping a stick around the string, and setting a rock on the stick, we can create the same idea as a stake to help hold the tarp in place.  The wind coming off the river gave us a little bit of a challenge, but simulated real life instances, which worked perfectly. 

In our last meeting, we learned arguably our most important skill. Paddling. By no means does this skill come in one meeting, often times taking the whole summer to perfect certain strokes. This is a challenging skill that takes a lot of practice and persistence. The meeting was broken down into learning how to hold the paddles, how the canoe moves, and the main strokes on land. The strokes we have learned so far include: Power stroke, draw, j-stroke, and c-stroke. With these in mind, we partnered up and took off to the river to learn how to properly get into the canoes to avoid tipping. We all got into the canoes and aimed to get to a pontoon lift across the river in a straight line using only the strokes we learned. Getting the hang of the "correctional strokes" like the j-stroke can be particularly difficult, so some zig zagging was done right away. I was fortunate enough to paddle with each guy and help them all get the hang of their strokes and paddle a straight line. By the end, the progress they had made since getting on the water was incredible. To my surprise, some of the guys even brought stuff for s'mores so that we could enjoy them around the fire after getting off the water. We all collected dry wood and were able to enjoy each others company before departing yet another great meeting. 

The guys will be meeting next on Thursday, May 17 at 6:30pm at basecamp. I'm excited to continue to watch their incredible progress as we progress into this summer.

Please contact me with any questions!

Zach