26 days + 9 hungry people = A LOTTA FOOD...

Last Thursday we had our Food Packing day! Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were our food packs... haha Here's a brief synopsis of the day from our second celebrity blogger Miranda!

"Today was a full day of fun! We started off the day quite early around 8 o’clock at Cathedral and were ready to work hard and get all of our food packing completed. All crews gathered in the cafeteria of the high school and got to work.  As a tradition all crews come to food packing day dressed up to add a little fun and our crew came up with dressing like the Greeks in some fashionable togas! As the day went on our food manager, Priccilla, made sure we were getting everything checked off our list and most importantly, the right amount. To make sure everything is packed tight we all wrap our food in two plastic bags and would suck air out of the bags to make them airtight. Once they are sealed and pass Ellie’s inspection, they are checked off of the list and thrown in the appropriate bin labeled breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Some things were packed specially, such as the candy which is packed inside the cardboard cartons we’ve been saving. Once the bins were full and we packed as much food as we could, the bins were then brought to the girls’ cars and most of the food is ready to be packed for the trip. And of course we needed to take a crew picture of all us looking fly in our togas:)

After the cleanup at Cathedral and all the food was loaded into some vehicles, we made our way to Base Camp around 3:30 pm, where we portaged even farther than before and we really pushed ourselves hard after a long day of food packing. We then placed the canoes in the river where we practiced our strokes and got started getting into the ‘J’ leans.

As we keep going with the preparation and as it nears our departure date, it gets more and more exciting to improve on skills and check some things off of our lists. Bonding really comes into play during these times when we spend the whole day together."

Only 5 days left until the Last Supper!!!

Beefy

On Tuesday, we had Beef Jerky day. This is a day where all 12 of the crews for this summer get together to cut up their strips of beef jerky to dehydrate for trail. For most of our blogs for now up until we leave, the girls will each get to write a blog of their own. Here's a synopsis of Beef Jerky day from our first celebrity blogger, Priccilla:

"Today we started out the day by mentally preparing for very cold hands and getting a little bloody touching raw meat. We set up all of our cutting boards and knives at our table. Then the guides walked by and placed a huge slab of sliced meat on our table. We then proceeded to cut the fat off of the meat and cut the good meat into strips to make the jerky. With the rest of the fat and leftover meat, we separated it into a "fat bucket" and a "hamburger bucket." This is the part that took the longest — and you hoped that when a guide came by to check your buckets to make sure they weren't poorly sorted, they wouldn't dump yours out and have you start all over. Luckily our fat bucket only got dumped twice in the beginning.

Then out of nowhere someone decided to dedicate a chunk of meat to another person there. This then led to us dedicating a piece of meat cut into a heart to another boys crew, asking them out on a crew date (for June 15!). They obviously agreed, we are quite the charmers.

As we cut the meat, we put the good pieces in a bin to marinate. The smell was amazing. It made us very hungry, but luckily Carlie's mom, Natalie, brought us some very yummy sandwiches and chips. We appreciated that the drinks were in cartons by the way (so we could use them to bag our bay bread on baking day). After cleaning up we headed over to the dehydrating site. We pulled out our pears and bagged those, then placed some of the marinated meat on trays to begin dehydrating. Again, it smelled great. After that, we cleaned up the site and that concluded our day."  

Overall, the girls had an awesome attitude throughout the day and had a lot of fun at the dehydrator site together.

T-9 days until we leave!

Lakes, and rivers, and streams, oh my!

For the past few weeks, the crew has had several meetings to determine our route for trail. We brainstormed all of the things we want to see and do. Led by our Route Manager, Mara, we began pinning down our route. Once we met with Fred and got some tips from him, we learned how to use something called UTMs (Universal Transverse Mercator system — similar to latitude & longitude) to measure our exact location of where we plan to camp each night.

Here's our game plan:

We'll start on Wallace Lake then paddle north. By the end of the first week, we plan to get on the Gammon River where we hope to be able to shoot some rapids. From there we're going to jump on the Bloodvein river where we might be able to swim through 4th of July Falls if the water levels are favorable. Next, we plan to do a night paddle where we may even get to see the Northern Lights if we're lucky. After this paddle, we'll be on Lake Sasaginnigak to get our resupply of food and our much-anticipated care packages. Then, we'll exit Lake Sass via a Voyageurs-named portage known as "Little Sass." The girls wanted to experience a floating bog and loon shit (picture mud that's the consistency of cold oatmeal) — this may be where they'll find some! For the second half of the trip, the girls thought it would be cool to venture to more remote regions where fewer crews have gone. At this point of the trip, they decided that it would be awesome to do a Voyageur morning. This entails getting out of camp in less than an hour (our typical goal is 2 hours) and on the water before the sun rises. It would be so cool if we could pull it off! This will take place as we head east via Family Lake (awww) toward Malette Lake, where we'll be doing our solo and trio days. From there, we'll be finishing up our last couple days of our Voyageur experience by paddling into McCusker from the east side.

After our meeting with Fred, the girls our really excited about our route. We've got good variety between rivers and rapids, and big and little lakes, and varying terrain as well. I'm really looking forward to the map literally being brought to life as we experience it day-by-day on trail!

Now officially less than 10 days until we leave!!!

Ain't no food like trail food ....mmmmm...

Cooking on trail is a very unique part of Voyageurs. Crews can cook just about anything on trail that they could cook at home — chicken noodle soup with dumplings, pizza, apple pie, Jello, you name it. As a crew the girls sat down and, led by our food manager, Priccilla, planned everything they wanted to bring on trail (and the amounts). Once on trail, each night the head and assistant chefs will then "open up the kitchen cupboards" and decide what to make for dinner. Usually it's not long after lunch before people start dreaming up what to make — especially once they've got their trail stomachs! haha

We made sure that our trail birthdays (Liz and Mara!) got to pick out what cakes they would want on their big days. We also made sure to bring extra applesauce, and even tacked prunes on the menu! The girls also decided it would be fun to try some exciting new additions to the menu — brussels sprouts and zucchini!

Mid last week we then set up shop at Jessica's house to be our dehydrator site. Thank you Scott Weber for opening up your home for us! So far we've dehydrated peaches, pineapple, applesauce, and baked beans, and groups of girls have had a couple late nights and early (~3AM) mornings changing trays and bagging food. To prevent animal problems and to prevent the food from rehydrating, all of the food is double bagged and the air is sucked out and tied tightly. The girls soon discovered that bagging the food is much harder that it sounds. We talked about the importance of taking pride in everything you do. Whether it's bagging food, packing the kettle pack, or tying up P-cord, rather than cutting corners and hoping that it's just enough to scrape by, it is important to do everything to the best of your ability so that it's something you can be proud of. The girls should be able to hold up that bag of dehydrated pineapple and say, "That's right, I bagged that! Look at how good this looks!" By always striving to be the best you can be, especially in the face of difficulty, great strides will be made. You'll feel good about yourself and the positive effort you put toward things. And furthermore, you'll inspire others around you to do the same.

 All in all we're making great progress! T-14 days until we leave!!!

Mental toughness, team building, paddling strokes, & some dang good baked beans

On Sunday we kicked off the day with a portage. Canoe flipping the very first time was no walk in the park, but one week later when we tried it again, all of the girls were able to get it up on not just their right side, but their left side too! Awesome job ladies! Over time as the girls get even better at this, the spotters on each end of the canoe will not even have to touch the canoe. They won't need them anymore!

Now on our 3rd meeting flipping up, we went on a portage. The goal was simply to "go as far as you think you can go." Our bodies are capable of so much more than we realize. That is the beauty of portaging. What makes an individual a good portager is not necessarily physical strength, but rather, mental strength. If the girls can break through these mental barriers, they will be absolutely amazed by what they can accomplish. —"Because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion."

After our portage we reviewed our knots and then did a team building activity. I gave the girls eight rolls of parachute cord (known as P-cord) and told them to tie all of them between two trees, with all bowlines tied on one and all cinching knots on the other. From there, we adjusted the heights and angles of all of the cord until it looked like a spider web. Next, the challenge was to get every girl through each of the holes in the spider web without touching the web. Some of the holes were higher up and the crew had to hoist each girl up and pass her through to the other side. We had some good laughs during this activity! Haha

Before we knew it, it was lunchtime! We got to break out the stoves and learn how to hook them up to our fuel bottles, light them, and adjust the heat of the flame. The girls filled up our cooking pots with water from the river. Once they made it to a rolling boil, we made macaroni noodles with Alfredo sauce and tuna, plus our magic ingredient — trio cheese! Then Lauren started up our second stove to make our baked beans — a fan favorite that day — for the side dish. We found that if there is too much water in the pot, adding cream soup base helps to thicken it up. We were all stuffed and we didn't even cook the full bag of noodles! No trail stomachs yet! Haha

To finish off our meeting, we learned paddling strokes. The job of the person in bow is to provide the power. The job of the person in stern is to do the steering. Bow can use the power stroke and the draw (as well as the cross-draw, which they will learn soon), and the stern uses these strokes, as well as the j-stroke, c-stroke, and pry. All but the power stroke are corrective strokes. The main pieces to remember when paddling are: 1) keep your bottom arm straight    2) Lean forward with every stroke, and pull back using your core so your arms don't get tired   3) Practice makes perfect!

Once we'd learned the strokes, one by one we jumped in the stern of the canoe while I held on to the bow and they got to see how the strokes feel when they're in the water. I can't wait til Saturday when we can get on the water to paddle for real!

P.S. 17 days until we leave for trail!!! The countdown is on!

"Wow, that's a 'kneat' knot you got!"

Last night the crew came inside from the pouring rain to learn some knots. We learned the square knot (to connect two shorter pieces of parachute cord), the bowline (a non-cinching knot to loop around an object, such as a tree), and three cinching knots (the double-half hitch, the taut line, and the trucker's hitch). We learned that if a knot is a cinching knot, it means you can adjust its tightness. From the double-half hitch, to the taut line (nicknamed the "tater-tot" knot by Priccilla), to the trucker's hitch, these knots progress in how tightly they can cinch.

With our new knowledge of knots, the girls practiced making clotheslines upstairs in Base Camp so that they could dry off their wet rain jackets — a bowline on one end, and a cinching knot on the other. It was pretty cool to be able to put our skills to use in a practical way! I was very impressed with how fast all of the girls picked up the knots and their eagerness to help each other out. Awesome job ladies!

We also were able to get our paddles sanded, so now they are ready to be painted. I'm so excited to see how cool they all turn out!

"It's all in the hips!"

Yesterday the crew met out at Base Camp to discuss goals and expectations for the trip and then learn our first skill — canoe flipping!

In terms of goals and expectations, a couple of big things we covered were being on time and having good communication. We discussed what it means to be an active listener — giving eye contact, not talking while the other person is talking, nodding your head yes or no, and being honest about whether or not you understand or are comfortable things are crucial to good communication. This will be important on trail, especially in situations that may be dangerous, such as whitewater.

Being on time to meetings, reading emails and texts closely, and responding promptly communicate more than just what is on the surface. It tells me, "How confident am I that I can I rely on this person?" Again, these qualities are very important on trail. I am confident that the crew will continue to strive to get better at this.

Other important things the girls covered were being encouraging and having a positive attitude. They did a phenomenal job with this when we went outside to begin canoe flipping. It's no walk in the park flipping an 80-pound canoe, but the girls did awesome giving each other encouragement and tips along the way. One of the biggest things we learned flipping was that it's all in the hips! 3 big hip thrusts go a long way when trying to get a big 17-foot canoe on your shoulders! It's never easy the first time, but practice makes perfect!

Spring has sprung . . . you know what that means!

Hello Henkemeyer crew and parents, welcome to our crew blog!

In no time, Base Camp will be buzzing with 12 crews preparing for one of the most unforgettable summers of their lives. Looking back on my first Voyageur trip, I can honestly say it was the most life-changing experience I have ever had. Voyageurs has helped me grow into the hard-working, strong, motivated individual I am today. I am so excited to now share that same opportunity with you. Since 1971, thousands of individuals have experienced the magic of Voyageurs (including some of you parents!), and girls, now it is your turn. Get excited!

A little about me —I am a senior at the University of St. Thomas double-majoring in general business management and environmental studies and am planning to work at a digital marketing consulting company post-graduation. I also keep busy on the track team, which helps me run off my extra energy in the Voyageur’s offseason, but with the weather warming up, I’m itching to get out to Base Camp.

Starting in May, we will be busy preparing for trail. This blog will be updated on a regular basis to keep parents and participants up to speed with all of the trip prep as it occurs. In addition to the blog, photos and a calendar of our crew meetings and events can also be accessed through the LVI website. Keep checking back here to see what we're up to!

I’m looking forward to meeting you all at the parent meeting this Sunday! Check the crew calendar for details. Please feel free to contact me with any questions that come up!