Almost There

The excitement in the air around basecamp is palpable. Somehow we've surpassed the mad scramble phased and moved on to a strange calm. What not three days ago seemed like an insurmountable to do list has been whittled down to nothing. All of our food and equipment sits in boxes and packs ready to be loaded up, while the final few skills required by the Canadian wilderness are honed. This past week has seen three more long days come and go. First our sewing day hosted by the Connolly's and then our two packing days at the Van Halbeck's business. During that time we welcomed our own Frankie Tomczik back from his brief hiatus in Germany and attempted to get him caught up on all he'd missed. On Thursday morning the guys completed a four hour roughly 14 km paddle starting at five in the morning. Dealing with wind and sun and fatigued as they endured what was hopefully a somewhat trail like experience. Of course nothing will truly prepare them for what they will experience in less that 72 hours, but I feel confident in each of their abilities and resolve to deal with any challenge they are confronted with. I would like to thank all of the parents again. I understand how difficult it  will be to be completely out of contact with your son for a month, and I know that at times they've been so busy it seems they already were in Canada. Thanks again for those who volunteered their spaces or their time and skill, or provided us with a lunch on a long day. Without your support and contributions, this trip would not be possible. As always if any last minute questions or concerns come up feel free to contact me, but if not this will be my last correspondence. I look forward to seeing you all at the last supper. It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with this group of kids this summer, and I couldn't be more excited for my favorite part of the job to begin!

 

Mason

One week out

What a week it's been. About 90% of our food preparations for the entire month were completed over the course of 3 days. First was our baking day where we prepared our hot chocolate, bay bread, bannock, and hamburger for the trip. Next came food packing day where just about every other bag of food that doesn't need to be dehydrated or cooked was packaged and labeled. Finally came jerky day. The guys had fun trimming the fat off of slices of beef to prepare our beef jerky the next day. Our week was capped off with a crew sleepover at basecamp where the boys learned a few new skills and had some fun bonding. In the morning the guys cooked breakfast and then competed in the crew olympics where they had the chance to showcase their skills head to head against the rest of the LVI crews. 

As we move toward our departure in 8 days, I couldn't be more excited to have the opportunity to guide this group of guys on their wilderness experience. I've enjoyed watching them open up to me and to each other and grow closer. I can only imagine what the 25 days in the wilderness will do for them. 

Looking ahead we have a few more big days on the schedule. On Monday will be our sewing day at the Connolly's followed by our packing days on Tuesday and Wednesday. The excitement is building!

A busy week behind and some big days ahead

What a week it's been!! As today we hit the t minus two weeks point, my feelings of preparedness have fluctuated, but I'm glad to say after the past few days, I'm feeling good. The guys have by now learned almost every skill that they will need for our trip. I've been extremely impressed with the proficiency and improvement that I've seen in their paddling. As we've now gotten on the water nearly a half dozen times, most boys are able to steer the boat in a semi straight line. We've even progressed to more advance canoe skills such as j-leans and braces, both of which were learned with relative ease. We've also finalized our route and learned other skills such as tent setting and kettle pack packing. I even heard rumors of a crew date that took place while I was away this weekend. The skill development will of course continue over the next two weeks, but now our focus begins to shift towards food and gear preparation. Three big days loom ahead this week: baking day, food packing day, and beef jerky day. After this week, nearly all of our food for the entire month should be ready to go. I thank you all again for the dedication to the program. I understand how difficult it will be to not see your child, grandchild, nephew, or friend for a month, but I ask for you patience as you see less and less of them in the coming weeks. 

Ramping Up Preparations

Hello all, the pressure and excitement for the summer are building. We've had several meetings since the last post and we've accomplished a good deal. Last week we set up our dehydrator at the Reuter's. So far we've gotten our pears and pineapple done and are eagerly awaiting more food to prepare. Out at basecamp we've continued to practice portaging, with a few boys making it all the way to the highway!! We've also gotten everyone out on the water at least once to practice their paddle strokes. The progress will be slow and steady with this skill but it's exciting to see the steering and form already starting to improve. We've also started to put pen to paper on our maps planning our route. This is another process that will continue over the next week. As school ends our activity will be ramping up with several big days on the calendar next week.

A Great Kickoff to the Summer

Hello again, this is the first official blog post. I'll try to write a post weekly accompanied with pictures to keep you parents and anyone else who is interested up to date with our pre-trip preparations. Since I've been home its been a whirlwind of activity. On Friday night I was able to have the first meeting with the entire crew. It was so great to meet all of the boys, they really gave me the feeling that this is going to be a fun and action packed summer. At our meeting the guys showed me what they had learned with Fred in their previous meetings. I was very impressed by the proficiency in canoe flipping and portaging. We've got a group of strong kids who I can already tell are going to be workhorses on trail. Next they displayed some equally impressive mental aptitude when we went over some map reading skills and some knot tying. Finally we were able to plan out part of our menu for the summer. During the meeting I had a constant bewilderment as the boys picked up one skill after the other with astounding speed. I was struggling to keep them occupied by the end. Their eagerness to learn and encouragement towards each other is a very good sign to me. I previously said that I couldn't be more excited to guide this crew this summer but somehow my excitement has only grown through one meeting.

Thank you to all the boys and families who were able to help out with woods clearing day out at basecamp. Fred, Roberta, and the program are extremely grateful and we couldn't maintain such facilities without your help.

Looking forward we have one more meeting on the schedule currently with several more soon to come. In addition, our parent meeting is scheduled for Wednesday the 23rd at 8pm(note the time change). I look forward to meeting all the parents there. As always don't hesitate to call or email me at anytime with questions or concerns.

Mason Halstrom

mhalstro@nd.edu

320-266-4038

First Blog Post!!

Hello all. My name is Mason Halstrom and I will be either your guide or your son's guide this summer, and I couldn't be more excited! Les Voyageurs has been an important part of my life and it is now my honor to pass on my passion and experience to the next generation of participants.

A little bit about myself. I graduated from Cathedral high school in 2016 and am a current sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. Unfortunately this means that I am currently in Indiana and won't be able to meet all of you for another few weeks. I am studying science on a pre-med track. This will be my fourth trip through Les Voyageurs. I participated the summer after my sophomore year of high school and again the following year on a far north trip. Last year I had the privilege of guiding for the first time.

I encourage all of you to sign up to receive these blog posts via email as I will be posting them regularly over the course of our preparations, as well as updating the calendar and posting photos. I am always available to contact by phone at 320-266-4038 and by email at mhalstro@nd.edu if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks and once again I'm eager to meet you all and get rolling with our preparations.