Philosophy & History

Philosophy

We are committed to empowering young people to grow into the best version of themselves. We believe in teaching young people how to be with the land, the water and the sky, how to be with one another, and ultimately how to be with themselves.

At NWL we believe our canoe trips serve as an excellent metaphor for life’s journey and represent an important rite of passage into adulthood. We find that young people return each summer because we represent a unique blend of adventure and personal growth in a highly supportive, natural environment. We teach and role model responsibility, compassion, decision-making, cooperation, resourcefulness, integrity, respect and common sense.

While the experience is challenging, it is not about conquering rivers or mountains. Emphasis is rather upon learning from the land and one another in a spirit that honours balance and respect. We have found that when participants learn to handle life on the trail, they become better equipped to handle life in general.

History

Langskib wilderness canoe camp for boys was founded in 1971 not only to provide young men with a set of tools that would help them on life’s journey, but also to create a mythological experience in a magical wilderness setting. The island base-camp was purchased by David Knudsen from Oliver Quickmire on a handshake as they sat on the cliff at Langskib overlooking Sharp Rock Inlet. Business in the North was a lot simpler back then.

The canoe camp’s first five years were full of excitement, hard work and the realization that there was much to learn. The canoeing trips that left the dock generally traveled only in the Temagami area, but there was always the dream of one day sending an expedition to the Hudson Bay. About five years into the program David had the privilege to meet with a number of Native elders, including Black Elk and thus began the slow process of understanding the importance of our relationship with the land.

This philosophy was incorporated into our curriculum, along with the teachings of group process, personal growth, and community building. The primary goal of these teachings was to provide a significant contemporary rite of passage experience enabling young men to cross the bridge into adulthood.

Each year enrollment increased significantly and in 1985 Northwaters was founded on a separate island about 25 kilometers south of Langskib. This was to be the beginning of our coed canoe tripping camp, Northern Lights program and our canoe trip programs for young women.

As our reputation grew, adult programming, Waldorf school camps and work with private schools and universities blossomed. Today Northwaters and Langskib represent the highest of standards in Outdoor Adventure Based Education and is recognized internationally for its development of outstanding young leaders.