The belief that simple living, hard work and risk changes lives.

September 10, 2010

A thousand or so days after the ball began to roll, CG and Jodi have now officially become the caretakers and owners of Northwaters and Langskib Wilderness Canoe Camps. Coincidentally this landmark event fell within weeks of our esteemed leader’s birthday, and thus his 35th anniversary on the islands. Below is a speech that was given in his honor at our end of season staff celebration. Congratulations, and thank you!

director of northwaters and langskib canoe camps35 years ago a sophisticated suburban mother of four identified in her 2nd born a need to escape the traditional.   It was clear that her stoic and resourceful boy was ready for a unique and identifying experience.  And so, at the age of 13, she sent him to Langskib.  To this day, she remembers with vivid clarity C.G. returning home from his summer in Temagami.  He was different she said.  Something had changed in him, this was very clear. Indeed, it was clear.  In addition to crossing a bridge he had chosen his life’s path.

C.G. has returned to Langskib every summer since then.  Beginning as a participant and soon becoming staff.  It wasn’t long before Dave Knudsen recognized his dependable nature, strong work ethic and impeccable craftsmanship.   He was hired on full time and began the long process of helping shape the organization and moving it forward.

When I first met C.G. he was devoted to his own personal growth and learning the skills required to manage people effectively.  Not much has changed.  He is dedicated to learning and his capacity for knowledge is overwhelming at times.  I’ve yet to meet another soul who can be simultaneously reading a book about small business organizational development, another on sustainable living, a Patrick O’Brien novel, Cycle World magazine and National Geographic. His quest for knowledge and curiosity combine with his diverse interests to make him an authentic ‘student of life, for life’.

Over the years his leadership has impacted more than an organization.  He has served as a mentor, surrogate father, friend and trusted colleague to generations of participants and staff.  During the off-season, it’s pretty rare for a week to go by without someone calling to ask C.G.’s advice.  Whether it’s someone looking for ideas on how to spend a year off, how to change a break caliper, frame a roof or how to face a particular conflict in their lives—he will make the time to help.

To me, C.G. embodies what Langskib and Northwaters represent: integrity, courage, community and the quest for excellence.

We put a great deal of value on symbols in this organization to recognize a passage from one place to another.  When I asked Bence (an infamous Excalibur Participant) what I should do to commemorate your 35 years here he suggested I commission a true to life statue of you for the cliff at Langskib.

While I agree, a statue would be great, I think it’s more important for you to hear these words and know they are true:  The community of staff sitting in this room are here because of important work that you have done.  The important work they do with young people on trail can happen because of your dedication to the philosophy of NWL and steadfast belief in the process.

As Caretaker of NWL , I know you will do what is right for this land and all those who walk upon it.  But I also know that as long as you breathe, you will uphold the core values of this place; the belief that simple living, hard work and risk changes lives.  Indeed, It changed yours 35 years ago and we are ALL truly thankful for that.

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