Contrary to popular belief, summer does not end with the Labo(u)r Day weekend. I re-discovered this the hard way, sweating buckets overnight in my brand new MEC TGV 2 tent and slapping at imaginary insects crawling up my arms. Welcome to your new program, career change, and new life! Air conditioning? Long gone. Showers? Forget about it. That’s what the Ottawa River is for.
The first four days of my school year were spent at Fall Camp out at Wilderness Tours (WT). What a way to meet new classmates. Put 200 people in tents just off the main lodge. Shuttle them out to a put-in point and hurtle them down the Ottawa River – many for the first time ever – in whitewater rafts of ten paddlers plus an expert guide. Have them jump off a rather tall rock (lost my stomach) into moving water and watch them swim to shore. Feed them dinner, walk them through program policies and procedures, and tell them let’s do it all again tomorrow!
The rest of fall camp saw first and second year Outdoor Adventure (ODA) and Outdoor Adventure Naturalist (ODAN) students work through intro to canoe lessons, field games (because who doesn’t love a good round of “Giants, Wizards, Elves“), a million name games, Leave No Trace principles, low ropes courses, and time on the rock wall. In the evenings, we had a gear talk and a get-to-know-you session for our own classmates. For those of us (ahem) older folks, we passed out in our tents after the post-supper session. Others played euchre tournaments, practiced their slacklining techniques, chatted into the wee hours, and listened to music. By the end of the week, we could name everyone in our program (which was promised to us at the start) and we had made some great connections before the start of classroom work.
Up for discussion: What’s your favorite, most effective, ice breaker?