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Why Teens Risk Sleeping Outside In Rain & Snow Then Canoeing An Icy River

Published September 4th, 2018

This past April, Wild Earth’s Ropes Wilderness Program for High School students set out for a special canoeing and wilderness camping expedition.

The weekend brought us lots of laughs and adventures and plenty of challenges!

Camp setup in rain, waking up in snow

When we arrived at our camp on Friday night, it wouldn’t stop raining.

After hauling all of our camping supplies uphill, we set out on the challenge of hanging our tarps in the pouring rain.

I was impressed that everyone worked together and stayed in high spirits. Eventually, after the intense work of camp setup was complete, we settled in for warm snacks around the fire.

Shortly after, the rain transitioned into heavy snow, weighing down our tarps and challenging the knots/ropes.

Throughout the night we had to continuously remove the snow from our shelter to prevent the ropes from breaking!

Waking up in the morning to over 2 inches of snow covering the landscape was well worth it. What a beautiful sight!

Canoeing on a super chilly river

As we set off in our canoes that afternoon, the snow blanketed the sides of the chilled river. After getting our “sea legs” and figuring out how to paddle with our canoe-mates, we began our journey.

Even though the sun was out that day, we paddled through thin layers of ice that still lingered on the river.

Our adventure eventually led us to a place we needed to briefly portage to get around, but before we could get the boats ashore, two of our crew accidentally flipped their boat sending them for a cold spring swim in the waters!

The whole team was readily prepared and everyone worked together to make sure the girls had everything they needed after changing into dry clothes. We all learned a lot from that experience together!!

An unstoppable and very merry bunch

But the challenge couldn’t keep everyone from going back out on the water one more time before calling it a night.

During this second leg of our canoe trip, we created one giant boat, holding the canoes together. We sang songs, shared stories and had lots of laughs. (This time was my personal favorite from the weekend ;-)

That evening, we enjoyed one another’s company around a warm fire with smores and hot cocoa. The day’s sun had left us, and the cold was settling in.

That evening it was only 16 degrees as we slept!! But everyone was tucked in their warm sleeping bags and I didn’t hear a single complaint all weekend.

In fact, I mostly heard laughter. The teens were filled with joy that only arises through facing the challenge of being outside for days on end.

We’re looking forward to our next night all together, on May 4th!

Stephanie and the Ropes Crew

Stephanie HertelStephanie HertelStephanie Hertel, Program Coordinator

Stephanie grew up in the woods of northern New York State. Her early days were filled with playing outdoors and wild harvesting food. Now, as a certified herbalist and seasoned grower for 6 years, Stephanie's roots are shown in her work as a therapeutic and medicinal garden consultant. She is currently creating and implementing a horticulture therapy program for the Anderson center for autism. Through her love of teaching herbalism, homesteading skills, and other ancient healing techniques, she strives to give others the tools necessary to lead a happy and healthy life. Her passion for making herbal products, natural crafts, and wild harvesting medicinal and edible plants are highlighted in her offerings as a wilderness educator. More about Stephanie's work.

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