Becoming a Boundary Waters Family
The Boundary Waters is a canoe area wilderness set aside for paddling, portaging and camping in a natural setting. There aren't roads, buildings to block your view or coffee shops around every corner. There is no place to plug in for electricity so there are no televisions or computers and cell phones do not work. When you are in the BWCA you are in the woods and away from the distractions that exist in your normal every day life.
In today's hectic world being a step away from the everyday world is a good thing. Adults these days are busy and overscheduled to the point of complete exhaustion. Running from meeting to meeting all day long drains a person of all energy. Constant communication via telephones, texting and email make it impossible to experience a moment of quiet. There's always a constant barrage of messages being strewn at people; the radio blares, billboards, television, magazines and posters are plastered everywhere. The clutter of real life takes a hold of the brain and fills it with unimportant thoughts and desires. By the time a person reaches home for the evening they are so over stimulated they can barely speak.
Children these days are just as overscheduled and overburdened as their parents. It's off to school, then chess club followed by soccer practice and a fast food meal eaten in the car on the way to cello lessons. Homework is squeezed in before bed and the next day it begins all over again.
The long awaited weekend should offer a bit of relief but for most people it just gets worse. Errands to run, projects to complete, parties to attend and other commitments keep everyone hopping in different directions all weekend long. Parents and children are living together but only in the terms of sharing the same roof over their head.
Families spend very little quality time together. Dinners are rarely eaten together and communication between each other is almost non-existent; Dad with his blue tooth, Mom on Facebook, little Judie with her iPod and Nick with his Gameboy. Sure, it's nice to not have to entertain your children 24-7 but before you know it they will be grown up and gone and all you will have left are regrets instead of memories.
A wilderness trip in the BWCA is an opportunity for families to come together and travel the same path. It's a place to spend quality time together and focus on each other. A vacation that strengthens the family bonds instead of pulling them apart at the seams.
A canoe camping trip isn't like any other family vacation. It isn't possible to ignore each other while you're paddling in a canoe working together towards a common goal. The journey and getting there is part of the experience and that journey begins the moment you push off from shore.
Distractions in the wilderness are few and far between. Your attention may be drawn to the appearance of wildlife but you will want to share that with each other. When you have a fish on the line you'll be too excited not to announce it to the rest of the family. As a family unit you cook your meals, put up your tent, paddle the canoe, gather firewood and spend quality time together.
Nature and the solitude of the wilderness provide the perfect setting for lasting memories. Conversations around the campfire or in the tent before you drift off to sleep allow you all to relax, connect and converse without distractions of everyday life. The closeness you feel while focusing on each other for the length of the vacation is not possible anywhere but in the wilderness.
Everyone needs to spend more time outdoors in the natural world. Parents owe it to their children to introduce them to the great outdoors at a young age. The benefits of spending time outside are many including better self-esteem, improved health and less risk of obesity. The time spent on a wilderness canoe camping trip benefits everyone in the family and especially the children.
The wilderness is an awe-inspiring place. The open lakes, fresh air and forests tend to open one's mind allowing a flow of creativity and imagination. It can be a cleansing and refreshing place where deep thoughts can be expressed. There is time for contemplation while sitting on a rock listening to the sounds of nature. Paddling the crystal clear lakes and camping beneath the star-filled sky is a perfect way to introduce your children to nature.
A canoe trip provides children with the opportunity to reach many goals. Through the attainment of these goals their self-esteem is built and their mental health is improved. Their confidence in themselves and their abilities soars as they learn to live in the great outdoors.
There's no time like the present to take a family canoe camping trip in the wilderness. The benefits you receive from spending quality time in the great outdoors with your family will be long-lasting. Take the time now to experience a real family vacation the bonds you make will last just as long as the memories.
You want to go on a canoe camping trip but you are afraid…
Kids are too young- Children need to be introduced to the great outdoors at an early age. The earlier they experience activities the more apt they are to continue with them as they get older. There is no need to wait until a child is a specific age to get out and paddle with them. If there is a life vest that fits them then they are good to go as long as you plan and prepare accordingly. Every child deserves to be taught a lesson, this lesson is to get outside, appreciate nature, and reap the many benefits a canoe camping trip can offer.
My kids are too lazy- When parents are sharing a common goal with their children everyone seems to enjoy the tasks involved with canoe camping. It doesn't feel like work when it's done together in a new and interesting wilderness setting. Accomplishing a goal is a great feeling and it doesn't seem to matter what that goal is; gathering water, firewood, or trying to catch a fish it all motivates children to want to participate.
I Don't know how- If everyone knew how to prepare and pack for a wilderness canoe trip then there would be no need for canoe outfitters. We exist to introduce people to canoe camping in the BWCA and Quetico Park. We'll show you and teach you as much or as little about canoe camping as you want. We'll show you how to put up a tent, paddle a canoe start a fire and navigate through the wilderness waters. We'll even send one of our Voyageur Crew members along for a night if you would like some extra assurance.
I Can't Afford it- We've always had special rates for families because we know how important it is to get families out into the canoe country. With two paying adults the rates for children of any age are deeply discounted so the trip is the most affordable vacation a family can take.
- Find a life vest that is comfortable and fits properly.
- Pack a good set of raingear, hat, and sunglasses. (head net if necessary)
- Bring plenty of sunscreen, bug spray, and itch balm
- Involve the children in menu planning and food preparation.
- Bring along special snacks and treats for good behavior rewards.
- Learn about the area, plants and animals before the trip.
- Bring identification books for birds, plants, trees and wildlife.
- A deck of cards, a flashlight, and a couple of good books are perfect for tent time.
- Spend time in the canoe creating stories of your own where everyone takes turns adding to it.
- Let the children have their own disposable camera for capturing their own memories.
- Have the children write in a journal each evening.
- Don't forget the S'mores.
- Let them get familiar with a lifevest by having the child wear it around the house prior to the trip.
- Tie toys to the side of the canoe so if the child decides to throw it overboard it won't be lost forever.
- Keep snacks and beverages handy.
- Place the child in a Rubbermaid or laundry basket to keep them dry and somewhat immobile. It allows them to sit up with their life vest on. A car seat works too, just don't strap them in and always use a life vest.
- Keep portages and paddling time to a minimum and plan short breaks to keep the child interested in their surroundings.
- Bring extra paddlers along. A grandma does wonders in the middle of the canoe or keeping track of the little one on the portage.
- Use all other paddling common sense and protect your young one with hats, sunscreen, bug repellant and netting.
- Bring along plenty of plastic bags for packing out diapers.