How we run our trips and approach the landscape has evolved over many generations of camp experience and reflects what is loosely called a traditional Temagami style.
Our canoe trips are fundamentally conservative. We emphasize the process of traveling comfortably through the landscape more than the challenge of achieving a destination. Our trips are not designed solely to stretch a camper's limits or to satisfy a guide's own goals. To that end, we aim to travel leisurely but efficiently, reserving lots of time for campsites and a generous budget of rest days. The learning is profound and part of the entire process: practice comes from the repetition of day-to-day routines that result from the consistent breaking and building of camp on trip while focusing on maximizing comfort on every campsite and eating spectacular food that requires a little more effort and attention.
Along with route planning, our exceptionally high quality equipment selection also reflects an emphasis on process. Wood-canvas canoes make up more than 90% of our canoe fleet; we cook over open fires and bake daily with reflector ovens and we carry many of our loads with wanigans and tumplines (traditional native techniques common in this area). It takes time to learn how to use this equipment effectively. Although more modern options exist, we continue to use this equipment in part because we believe the results are superior, and in part because we believe the process of skill development contributes to an overall process of growth that can neither be bought nor acquired overnight.
Fundamentally, we believe that traditional canoe tripping contributes to every child's personal development. In an increasingly competitive and scheduled age, we believe in the importance of self-initiated play and opportunities to explore in safe, natural environments. The proof is in the pudding: year after year children return to camp simply because it's fun and rewarding. These experiences are valuable not only in their own right, but also as investments that continue to pay dividends throughout life.
Along with the good times, there's no denying that canoe tripping can be hard - both physically challenging and emotionally demanding. Few activities today bring together a combination of rigor and reward so clearly, and experiences on the trail implicitly nurture a range of virtues: perseverance teamwork, individual responsibility and initiative, group problem solving, sticking to a task, respect for the forces of nature and environmental ethics, measured decision-making, planning, and good judgment that emphasizes risk mitigation.
We believe that our approach to equipment and skills provides a link to the past, a connection to the landscape we travel through, and a lasting sense of personal accomplishment. We believe that our approach to the landscape helps young women and men mature into confident, thoughtful, and principled adults.
Where so many activities today focus on immediate achievement, the benefits of learning to live outdoors accumulate at a slower pace. "A Lifetime of Memories" is more than a slogan: it emphasizes how important these experiences can be in turning corners for some and laying a foundation for many of us for the rest of our lives.