Olympic Glory

It's a pretty exciting time to be a Voyageur! Today the Wensman Crew competed in the fifth annual Crew Olympics! The guys competed in four events: paddling obstacle course, portaging race, kettle pack packing race, and tarp-set up. Our crew performed very well in all events, showing that we are getting close to being ready for trail! After a successful crew olympics, we breaked for the afternoon and re-met at Base Camp at 6:30 for our crew sleepover! We started by bagging up our dehydrated hamburger and then learned how to orient our maps and bush crash usin a map and compass. After that we got out on the water for a sunset paddle. We then moved down the road to the Nemeth Household for our crew sleepover! Currently typing this blog in the basement and about to join in on some games before we head to bed! A full and fun day for the crew to be sure! 

6 More Days Until We Leave!

Baking Bash

It was a full baking day for the Wensman crew, filled with unexpected events! To begin, a storm knocked out the power in Sartell, rendering the ovens at our baking site (the Nemeth household) unusable until 3:30. To kill time, we made our crew hot chocolate and Bannock Bread mix. Bannock is bread that we bake on trail, so the only prep we have to do is mix the powder; no ovens required. Next, we went out to Base Camp to practice putting up tents and packing the kettle pack until the power came back on. Lo and behold, about an hour after arriving at Base Camp, the power was restored, and we hightailed it back to the Nemeth's to finish our baking day. The last part of the day consisted of cooking our hamburger and baking our Bay Bread. Bay Bread is a bread that we eat as a part of lunch on trail, and it essentially looks like a big granola bar. It was a long day, but we successfully ended with all of our Bay Bread, Bannock, and meat ready to go. BIG thank you to the Nemeths for helping out in so many ways throughout the day. Another thanks to the Halstroms for helping provide us lunch! Big day tomorrow with Crew Olympics coming up. Will post tomorrow night with the exciting results!

7 DAYS UNTIL WE LEAVE

Busy Week!

We are on the tail end of a very busy week! On Tuesday we had beef jerky day, which involved the entirety of all the Voyageur crews meeting cut our beef jerky. We receive large amounts of meat which we had to cut into small chunks and remove the fat. This is a long process that can get monotonous at times, but the crew pushed through, and we were able to end the day early, and we went straight to the dehydrator site to put the meat on the dehydrator to become jerky. 

After a day off on Wednesday, we came to today, which was Food Packing Day. The crew gathered at Cathedral (sporting some fun, wacky, clothes according to the tradition of Food Packing Day) and we packed all of our food into small, medium, and large plastic bags. This involved removing food from its original packaging and transferring it to bags that we know aren't going to break or emit a scent on trail. The guys were very efficient at bagging today, and we were able to get almost all of our food bagged, and moved to our dehydrator site. 

Tomorrow we have a long paddle planned starting at 9:00 AM. Should be a great time!

10 days until we leave!

 

Kettle Pack Kraze

There was a full slate of activities for the boys today! We first met at Savers to buy some trail clothes. For trail shirts we are looking for material that is not 100% cotton. Savers or other discount retailers often have great options! We then moved out to base camp where we practiced setting up tarps. Everyday we will be setting up a tarp to protect our packs from the elements. To set up a tarp we need to use all of the knots we have been practicing for the past couple weeks. The boys learned how to do set the tarp up, and then put up their own tarp which Far North Guide Austin then critiqued. For their first tarp, the boys did really well! We then learned how to pack the kettle pack. The kettle pack holds all of our crew's equipment for our trip. Packing it takes skill, and it is a skill that the guys developed today. We ended the day with a paddle obstacle course on the river! Busy day, and an even busier one tomorrow with Beef Jerky Day on the docket! We are meeting at 7:30 AM at a house in South Saint Cloud!

13 Days Until We Leave!

Sewing Sensations

Today was Ditty Bag Day! We, the crew and our awesome volunteers, met at the Ebel residence to cut and sew our ditty bags. The ditty bags are small fabric bags that hold our personal belongings, such as books, journals, toothbrushes, floss etc.. We also sewed our paddle bags to protect our paddles on the bus ride up to Canada. It was great to see each of the guys at work behind a sewing machines, and the crew quickly began churning out beautiful ditty bags. Thanks to all of our volunteers for assisting our somewhat lackluster sewing skills! Special thanks to the Ebel family for providing us a space and food throughout the day!

After ditty bags, we moved out to Base Camp and went for a paddle! It was beautiful weather, and we celebrated a successful day of sewing with some J-leaning! Overall, a great day for the Wensman Crew. Crew meeting tomorrow at 10:00. We are meeting at Savers to get some trail clothes!

J-Lean Joy

Just ended a fun day of J-Leaning! Today was spent playing the J-Lean game. This game involves trying to fill the canoe up with water without tipping it over. The strategy is to use high and low brace strokes (ask your sons to explain these to you!) to tilt the canoe and take on water. The trick is to not tilt the canoe so far over that the canoe dumps. It is great fun, and we were able to play the game in a shallow part of the Mississippi at Base Camp. There were smiles aplenty and everyone had a great time. We even had a few successful J-Leans by the end of the day!

When paddling, we also are working on keeping the canoe going in a straight line. We still have some work to do on our J-strokes (the tricky correctional stroke used to paddle straight), but I'm seeing tremendous progress, and am very excited to see what our crew can do in a couple short weeks!

We have an off day tomorrow, and then on Sunday we start a busy week with ditty bag day at 2:00 PM at the Ebel household!

Boot Shack Bonanza

Yesterday our crew met at the Boot Shack to get our boots for trail! Clayton and Isaac, who were ahead of the game and already got their boots went to our dehydrating site and bagged some green beans and put on some baked beans. Meanwhile, our crew got the VIP treatment from Kevin, the owner of the Boot Shack. He talked us through the foot measurement process, and even gave us a tour of his boot warehouse, which is quite expansive! After everyone purchased their boots we moved back out to Base Camp to go over our route with Fred. He was excited about our route, but recommended that we add some more difficult portages to the beginning of our trip. We our going to reroute the beginning of the trip and then move forward with officially submitting our route!

Today the crew is coming out in parts to paddle and play the J-Lean game. More on what this game is and how paddling goes later today!

Hump Day Paddle

Tonight the crew gathered for a quick paddle and some route planning. We practiced flipping canoes with the guide packs on too! On trail, we will be wearing guide packs when we flip the canoes, so it is good practice to flip with them before we leave. Paddling went very well tonight. While there is still some zig-zagging around the river, the J-strokes (a corrective stroke used to keep the canoe headed straight) are coming along nicely! After paddling we headed inside to plan more of our route. We have a solid base route down now, so our next step is to get Fred's thoughts on how our route can be improved! After looking at our route we headed over to Riley's to take food off the dehydrator. A very successful and busy night! 

18 Days Until We Leave!

Dehydrating Delight

On Thursday our crew met to set up our dehydrating site at the Halstrom Residence. We moved our dehydrator into their basement and set up a nice, clean workspace to use for preparing our food. The boys brought cutting boards, knives, and paper towels, and, after washing our hands, we immediately got to work drying and cutting pears to put on the dehydrator. Cycling between positions of drying, cutting, and placing pears on the dehydrator, the work got done in no time! We will be at the Halstrom's a lot throughout the next three weeks putting food on to be dehydrated and bagging up the dried food. We discussed the importance of keeping the dehydrator site clean. A clean dehydrator site is crucial to keeping our food clean and being respectful to the Halstrom's for letting us use their space.

After dehydrating we got our maps out and began the route planning process. Starting at Wallace Lake, the boys started measuring our how far we will paddle each day and what rivers and lakes to use in our quest to get the the Berens River Village (our departure site) by Day 26. Through this process it was determined that we will be paddling the Pigeon River into Lake Winnipeg to end our trip! The Pigeon is a fantastic river for paddling and should have plenty of adventures for our crew to experience on the second half of our trip. That's all for now, we have a meeting tomorrow for some early morning paddling practice!

23 Days Until We Leave!

 

First Paddling Day !

What a day for the Wensman Crew! We gathered at 6:30 at Base Camp and immediately jumped into tying knots. Everybody tied every knot today which was fantastic to see! There were also some very taut truckers hitch knots tied. The trucker's hitch is an extremely useful knot that forms the ridge line of our tarps. It's great to see the guys get the hang of this complicated series of knots. The highlight of our evening was getting out on the water for our first paddling day! After going over the different strokes used to propel the canoe, we practiced our strokes on the dock (but it didn't go anywhere). Then we put canoes in the water and practiced manipulating the boat while attached to the dock, just getting used to the way that the canoe moves in the water. Then we pushed off the dock and paddled into open water! The boys did great for their first time paddling, and we made our way up river for a while before switching paddling positions and returning to the dock. This was a great first paddling adventure for our crew and everybody is excited for many more. That's all for now, I'm staying at Base Camp tonight and getting ready for Med training tomorrow. Chao!

Portage Pioneers

Tonight we had an optional meeting to go over some of the skills that we already learned, while Riley helped Roberta sort med equipment. Adam and Ben came out and did 1200 meter portage! We also went reviewed some knots and they both tied a fantastic trucker's hitch. We then went inside and sorted some maps (making up for a map mistake that I made earlier in the day). Thanks to Adam, Riley, and Ben for coming out, it was a great meeting! Will see the whole crew tomorrow for our first paddling day! 

Friday Funday

On Friday some of our boys got together for an optional meeting at Base Camp. At this meeting we went for a portage, learned how to use our stoves, and practiced some knots. We did a slightly longer portage than the one we did previously. We are going to try and extend the portage every time to build up our endurance. The guys did very well! We also had some fun with learning our stoves by making hot chocolate on the stoves once everybody had successfully lit the stove. The boys will be getting used to the hot chocolate, as we will have about 1.5 pounds of hot chocolate per day on trail. Looking forward to another optional meeting tonight, and our first paddling day tomorrow!!! Check out some updated pictures on the website!

Parent Meeting

Thanks to all the parents who came to the parent meeting tonight! It was a pleasure talking to everyone. Again, if anybody has any questions throughout the process of preparation never hesitate to shoot me a text or call me. Kari will be sending out reminders for everyone who signed up for lunches as they come up. Furthermore, we still need two more volunteers for ditty bag day, as well as two more sewing machines, so if anybody knows anyone who is able to help us out send them my way! Thanks!

Rainy With a Chance of Portaging

Today the crew gathered at Base Camp for some portaging practice. Little did we know it would be raining during our meeting! This meant that we were able to practice flipping wet canoes and portaging in less-than-ideal conditions. It was excellent! On trail it will not always be sunny, and things won't always be going our way, so it's good to work on our skills in all types of conditions. We did our first portage of the year, portaging the canoes in pairs about 600 meters and then switching out partners. It wasn't easy, but everybody did a great job flipping and portaging! 

We then headed inside and out of the rain to create our menu. Given options of a wide variety of meals, our crew debated one another on which types of food to bring on the trip. In the end, we put together a nice selection of food, and we even have a serving of vegetables for every day! 

We also sanded our paddles today. Everybody's paddle needs a bit more sanding before it's ready to be painted, but we got a great start on them. We want to sand the paddles until no varnish can be seen glinting off the paddle when its held up to the light. 

That's all for tonight. Will see all the parents tomorrow at the parent meeting!

(My) First Day of Guide Training!

Good evening! Today was the first day of Guide Training! Well, actually, the first day for me, since I graduated from the University of Minnesota on Monday! Today I got caught up with the items that I missed on Monday, and we went over important checks on our skills in paddling, portaging, and maps. I also was able to set-up the majority of our crew's events in our crew calendar. Feel free to check it out! You will notice that we will be pretty busy as we get closer to our departure date! Its important that our crew is at as many meetings as possible in order to be fully prepared for the trip. Looking forward to seeing the crew tomorrow and all the parents on Thursday! 

Flipping Fanatics

Today was a big day for the Wensman crew! We had our first canoe-flipping session! Canoe-flipping is the process of getting the 80 pound canoe of the ground and onto one's shoulders for portaging. After walking through the parts of the canoe and the different steps that go into properly flipping the canoe, we broke into pairs to practice. The crew far exceeded my expectations, and everyone had a great time getting used to the feeling of the canoe on their shoulders. This is important, as we will spend a large amount of time on trail portaging between lakes and around rapids. 

We also spent our meeting practicing more knots and going over some things we want to include in our trip. The boys say they want to do some cliff jumping, rapid shooting, long portages, fishing, and to travel to some rarely seen parts of Canada. We've got a lot of things to pack into our trip, but I feel confident we can hit every one of our route goals! We finally talked about what qualities make a good crew member, and expectations for crew members and guides. A full and productive meeting to be sure! 

 35 days until we leave!

First Meeting of the Year!

Tonight our crew had our first real skills meeting of the year! We gathered at base camp to get acquainted with the location and go over the rules of base camp. We discussed always driving slow on Pine Point Road and keeping base camp clean. With lots of crews using base camp to plan their trip, keeping the building organized is a top priority! We learned two knots tonight: the square knot and the double half hitch. Ask your son to tell you what these knots are and what they are used for! Every crew-member successfully tied each knot, which was great to see. We then moved inside and set-up our maps. The boys did a great job figuring out which maps go next to each other, and after all the maps were set up we took a look at our starting point, resupply point, and exit point. Can't wait to fill start filling in a route between these landmarks! After looking at maps, we did a cleaning of base camp. We will always leave base camp cleaner than we found it for the next crew. The boys also tried on some rain jackets and pants tonight to get sizes down. They should be ready to turn in the equipment order forms by May 6th! Overall a great meeting. Looking forward to a great summer with an awesome crew! 

LVI Equipment Order

Hi everybody! 

Fred sent out the personal equipment order forms today! You do not have to order any of the items on the form, but you will not find better prices. If anyone wishes to try any of the equipment on for sizing, there are samples in Fred's classroom at Cathedral and at Base Camp. Please pay special instructions to the order directions on the email, as they are very specific! The form is due May 6th. If you have any questions about any of the equipment feel free to ask!

I finish up my last hard week of college this week! I will be returning Saint Cloud on May 10th for a few days, during which time I will be looking to schedule a crew meeting. Keep a lookout for my texts guys! Have a great week! 

49 days until we leave!

 

Welcome to our website!

Greetings to all!

Welcome to the Wensman Crew Website! On this page you will be able to find our blog, some photos of our preparation, and the Wensman Crew calendar. I will be working to keep this website updated as much as possible throughout the next two months prior to our trip. 

A little bit about myself to kick off the blog. My name is Cole Wensman, I am a senior graduating from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities in May. I am graduating with a Marketing major and Entrepreneurship and Spanish minors. When I am not working on schoolwork, I enjoy canoeing and being outdoors, and playing quidditch for the University of Minnesota Competitive Quidditch Team! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJM4N8Wg-84). After graduation I am moving back to St. Cloud for the summer to live with my parents, Tim and Janet, and my sister Kenna. 

I am so excited to be serving as the guide for this crew! The Voyageurs experience is truly magical, and I look forward to working with all of our crewmembers and families to make this summer one to remember!

If you ever have any questions about anything that will be happening this summer, please feel free to contact me. My phone number and email can be found on the website and are also listed below. I am looking forward to meeting our crew and families this Sunday at the Parent Meeting!

Warmly, 

Cole

Phone: 320-247-0649
Email: wensm013@umn.edu