Before the trip, Nick worked out three schedules:
1. He divided the Voyagers into 3 rotating work teams: gathering wood, fire building, cooking & clean-up.
2. He assigned each Voyageur to be in charge for one day to set schedule for the day, co-coordinating teams, final check when leaving camp site, picking lunch site and camp site for the overnight. As everyone knew they would “have their day”, there was excellent co-operation.
3. The third was a schedule so Nick and I would canoe with a different Voyageur each day, and, at the end of the day, the camper would share our tent with us.
A few years ago this plan of spending a night together after sharing the day had to be stopped because of the cultural concern of sexual abuse. Now everyone sleeps in four man tents. In terms of openness between two people, this was an unfortunate change
When canoeing together the experiences of the day are shared. Canoeing through a storm, mutual respect is gained. When watching a moose graze grass in shallow water – then bring his head up and shake, with large ears flapping, laughter is shared. When canoeing around a bend and finding ourselves 10 feet from a nesting loon, awe is shared. When tying two canoes together for a 3 hour sail down a long lake, relaxation is shared. When running class II rapids, it is either work together…or flip!
During 4-8 hours of canoeing, there is much time for time for a camper to share his feelings about his parents, or his parents’ divorce, his grand parents, death of a family member or friend, how things were going at school, pets, church, playing a sport, or what they wanted to do. About mistakes made and what to do now. And there was often conversation about values, and anticipations good and bad. I remember John Lanetalking about how his family might be moving to China for a few years, how he felt about it, and what he might be able to do, and not do, if they moved. To be welcomed into his thinking was a privilege.
At the end of the day each of us would crawl into our two man Timberline tent. Nick and I often thought everything that the camper wanted to talk about had been said…and then, in the aloneness of the tent, a deep hurt or struggle would come out. Sometimes, though both tired, sleep did not come quickly.
There were enough days that Nick and I were both able to spend a day with each camper. As could be expected, how a camper would relate to us was different. What a Voyageur shared with 19 year old Nick was different from what the same camper would share with 50 year old me. The encouragement and counsel they received from one of us would have a different twist than they would receive from the other, though both of us would work to share what we said with specific Biblical illustrations – like what happened in King David’s life, or what Jesus did or taught.
Most of us don’t take Voyageur trips, but it is possible to spend hours alone with each member of our family, with extended family – with a person of any age who needs to talk, to share, to feel heard, to be encouraged, and affirmed.
After reading: Terror! Triumph! Thanksgiving! Allagash River Trip part 1, Dan Jackson sent this e-mail:
I had the good fortune of being one of the campers on that trip with you and Nick — and what a trip it was! A few years later I had the privilege of leading a group with Chris Hobday on the same Allagash River Trip. As we crossed Chamberlain Lake, I had vivid flashbacks of that first trip, paddling with every ounce of energy just to keep the bow pointed into the oncoming waves. It truly was a thrill ride! While at that time, I had not yet completed my Master’s in canoeing, I was still a competent paddler. When the going got tough that day on Chamberlain Lake, the years of canoeing practice & instruction came naturally; whatever fear I may have felt in that storm was also accompanied by a sense of excitement. The same is so often true of life and faith. When the storms come, the foundations of faith hold firm and there is a constant sense that God is in control and always up to something!
It was truly a blessing for me as a 16-year-old to take that 2 week trip with you. One of the best experiences of my 14 years at DL!
I am now in Winchester, KY. serving as the Teaching Pastor at Calvary Christian Church, and overseeing an outreach ministry that established a coffee house & community teen center in the heart of our city. Next summer will be the first year that my son, Evan, will make the trip to DL as a Woodsman. I can’t wait!!
Thanks for your continued encouragement,