It begins by rousing everyone at 6:00 a.m., for morning chores, a quick but tasty breakfast of hot granola, and some time to load up the canoes and breakdown camp by 8:00 a.m. You might paddle 4-6 kilometers and take a break right before your first “portage” (a land trail between lakes) of the day. After scouting the portage, you’ll organize your group into carry teams to move your gear and boats from one lake to the other (the trail might be as long as a kilometer through wet and boggy terrain). As you experience the challenge of carrying a boat on your back, your boat buddy is right there to switch off and supply emotional support. You might get through in “one carry” without resting and you’ll find hidden reserves you did not know you had. After a hearty lunch of bagels, peanut butter, dried fruit, and cheese, you are off again, paddling another 3-5 kilometers to an island on the middle of a quiet lake. There, one of your instructors will teach a short lesson on the trees of the boreal forest and you’ll learn how to identify common species as well as the basic ecology of the region.
After a break, it's one final push to camp ... but wait! It seems as though the group missed the inlet to camp. After a group discussion to determine where you think you are, the leaders-of-the-day figure out the mistake and you paddle in an hour later than you had hoped, tired, but invigorated from the day's challenges. Once on shore, you immediately divide into chore groups- fire and kitchen set-up, camp set-up, and boat storage. As one group cooks dinner, you might have time to sit by the lake, listen to the loons, and write in your journal. After a yummy dinner of beans, rice, tortillas, and salsa, you gather together as a group to discuss the lessons of the day as well as one of the course readings about the ecology of the boreal forest. As the sun sets around 10 p.m. (and the mosquito’s arrive in earnest!), you retreat to your tent with three other tent mates and catch-up on readings, journaling, or, if you are leader-of-the-day for tomorrow, the next day's maps and route plan. Of course, remember that a “typical day” may vary widely course to course and year to year!