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#getoutside2019 Blog Series : Shiela Wiebe

The Canoe trip …To Prove that I Could.

I turned 50 last year.

I decided to challenge myself.  Each day of the last 50 days leading up to my actual birthday I set out a series of fun, community minded, thought provoking challenges like try a new food, pay it forward, write a letter to your 60 year old self and dontate 50 things to charity… etc.

One challenge was to go on vacation with my yongest daughter. Spend one on one time just her and me. 

Now if you are reading this you will realize the vacation was not to New York or to a fancy hotel.

We planned a 50 km paddle trip (sticking to the 50 in 50 days theme).   We realize that a canoe trip is not everyone idea of a vacation… but to us this was going to be paradise.

Spending 96 hours, in the wilderness alone… with each other….only each other. How was this going to end??  No phones, no makeup, no endless supply of food from the magic cupboard. Could we do it?  Would we still be speaking to each other?

I wanted to try.  So did she.

If you are like me… there has always been a male figure on most of my camping trips…first my dad, then the guys at school (outdoor recreation) then my hubby.  Without expressing it — (was it how I was raised?) the guys assumed the roll of fire starter, firewood gatherer while I set up the tent and prepared the meals.  Wow… talk about leave it to beaver!

Well that was it… I needed to break this pattern. 

Time to challenge ourselves.  Get outside of our comfort zone.  Prove to ourselves that we CAN do it.— paddle, portage, set up camp, cook, clean, protect against any threats – weather or animal…. and still have a good laugh.  

If your teenager is less than enthusiastic, here are some tips on how to get your 15 year old to agree to go on a canoe trip with you The MOM.

Tell them they couldn’t hack it.
even though she had been on at least 4 canoe trips in the last 3 years.
She then said I would not be able to “hack” it.  Even though I had only been on a canoe trip every other year… but had more experience when I was 15 years younger.  Did i still have it?

Start to plan the menu -include the items that she hates, but you like.
With my daughter — that didn’t leave much – she eats just about everything.  But when I mentioned TVP and Pepperettes — she sat up and got involved —”anything but TVP Mom”

Choose a park… a site…with this trip it was a base camp style trip.
Scenic, a few portages and a site where we can see the sun rise and sun set on a lake known for good fishing!

The clincher… plan that they will HAVE to miss a day of school for the travel day… teamed up with the PA day and the weekend and you’ve got yourself a great extra long weekend!

Set goals and expectations for the trip.  Here are the ones we set for ourselves and agreed to uphold.
If we get lost or turned around — who cares… we call that the scenic route.
Mandatory water and GORP breaks AFTER the portages.
Let daughter navigate. (Trust.  If not return to #1)
Share the responsibility of sterning and portaging the canoe.
Share in the making of meals and clean up.
We will wake up when we want.
We will sleep when we want.

Things I learned about myself:

I am hillarious.  
Found out that  my daughter has similar sense of humor and we can crack each other up with just a look.

I am stubborn.
   I will get the fire started.  I will catch dinner. I will win a game of cribbage (never did).
   Found out that my daughter is just as stubborn.  She is going to go places!

I have a poor sense of direction.
   Thank goodness for compasses and GPS’s… and a daughter who HAS a good sense of direction.

I am resilient.  
   Expect that on any trip it will rain and you will have a head wind.  In this particular case we did not have a drop of rain or even a threat of it.  We also did not have any wind to speaks of!  However we did have a cheaky red squirrel who made it its mission to hit us with jack pine cones…. true story!

I am creative.
   If first you don’t succeed try try again.  There’s more than one way to dry wet clothes, catch a fish or protect your food/ head from being hit by a pine cones!

I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to take your kid on a backcountry canoe trip.  Having to work together as a team and realizing that YOU are the other persons safety net.  Memories and misshapps only the 2 so you can share!

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