Frequently Asked Questions

Where are your participants from?

Most participants come from within North America. Often people hear about our canoe camps through our large circle of friends and alumni. In the spring and fall, we do several school programs, mostly with 8th grade Waldorf students, so many times participants hear about it at school. As word spreads and friends travel, our diversity grows. The past few summers we’ve had participants join us from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Nicaragua, UAE, Israel, China, Singapore and Mexico.

Which program is right for me? What trip will I go on?

If this is your first time away, our two-week Excalibur and Northern Lights programs are designed to be an introduction to wilderness adventure. Older and returning participants choose our Langskib or Northwaters programs which takes them into the wilderness for a 20-day canoe trip. We plan specific routes and break into sections of 6-10 after a day or two of orientation in basecamp. Choosing trips after getting to know participants allows us to help make the experience meet the needs of the individual. Check our wilderness canoe camp dates and rates for 2014 here.

What do I need to bring? Do I have to buy expensive gear?

You probably already have most of what you need; a sleeping bag, raingear, sturdy foot wear and enough clothes to stay warm down to 5 degrees Celsius (40′ F). Northwaters and Langskib supply all of the group camping gear including: canoes, packs, paddles, PFD’s, tents, cook kits, etc. Once you have registered for a program, we will include a complete equipment list with your confirmation package.

Do many participants return?

Yes! We have an exceptionally high return rate. Participants return because they are valued members of a supportive community which requires only that they show up, be themselves and do their best. Each year participants are invited back on progressively more challenging trips- through the Temagami region, on scenic northern rivers to run white water, and ultimately on to the Hudson Bay. We even offer a Leadership Expedition for 17-19 year olds with hopes of apprenticing to be a Northwaters and Langskib guide.

How do I get there?

We meet participants in Temagami, Toronto, and Ottawa, Ontario and bring them to our basecamp on Lake Temagami. Total travel time from Toronto or Ottawa to basecamp is about six hours. Once you have registered for a program we will include detailed travel information with your confirmation package, or visit our Travel Page for more information.

Is it safe?

Safety is always our primary concern. In over 40 years of leading wilderness canoe trips, we have never had a serious injury. All of our guides are certified in Wilderness Medicine and Waterfront Lifesaving, but more importantly, they have extensive training and years of experience in running safe programs.

What kind of experience do I need?

You don’t need any previous experience. Most first time participants have very little experience in wilderness travel, and many are new to canoeing. Over the course of the program you will learn everything they need to know (and then some).

Who are your staff?

Our wilderness canoe guides are extensively trained in group process and community building, Wilderness Medicine, Waterfront Lifesaving and expedition planning. All of our trip leaders begin as Northwaters and Langskib participants and work their way through our organization into a staff position. Once they have completed our Leadership Expedition, medical and staff training, our guides undergo a two to four year apprenticeship before earning their leader paddle. Visit our staff profile page to meet our directors and get a better idea of the fine young people leading trips with us.

When do programs usually fill?

Enrollment in each of our wilderness canoe expeditions is limited to ensure a quality experience. By spring we have filled many of our sections. Please contact us for current program availability.

What does tuition include? Are there any hidden costs?

Tuition covers all activities from arrival at base camp through departure on the last day of the program. Guides, food, mid-program transportation, reprovisions, and group gear are all included. The only other program fees are sales tax (mandated by the Canadian government to be calculated separately) and optional bus travel from Toronto or Ottawa before and after the program.

Can I come and tour the camp before I send my child to your program?

We welcome friends and family at the end of all programs for a celebratory barbecue. The second to last day, Northwaters and Langskib gather together to feast, share stories, and wrap-up our incredible adventures on trail together. Prior to this, touring basecamp is logistically difficult and can be detrimental to the participants ‘journey’. Part of the magic young people experience with us is the initial arrival at our island base camps—they are situated far from the mainland and require boat or float planes to access. This gives our participants a real sense of adventure and a distinct separation from the ‘known’.

Can I still come if I have food allergies?

We can accommodate most food allergies. We are considered a ‘nut aware’ facility and have eliminated all nuts and tree nuts from our menus and facilities. For those with wheat, gluten and dairy allergies, our menus can be modified to meet your needs. If you have non-perishable supplemental foods you would like to bring, you are welcome to do so. Just make sure you give them to your trip leaders before departing on your adventure (so they can pack it up with the rest of the food going on trail).

Can I bring a friend?

Sure. We simply ask that you be open to the possibility of being placed in separate tripping groups once we have spent some time together at basecamp. Our experience is that participants get far less out of one of our programs if they are in the same group as a relative or friend that knows them from home. This may not be the case for you and your friend, but young men and women have a tendency to stick with old patterns and expectations when people who know them from home are present. When they are within a group of young people they’ve never met, they are more open, take more risks and try out new ways of being that help them grow.

What if it rains?

We travel in most kinds of weather. Unless there is lightening or excessive wind, we are on the move. Experiencing all that nature has to offer while on trail, is one of the many gifts and teachings we receive. You may be surprised at how peaceful it is to paddle in a steady rain, or how cooling it is to portage with a gentle drizzle on your cheeks. Don’t worry, you will pack accordingly and your trip leaders will teach you how to stay warm and comfortable on trail during inclement weather.

What if I get hurt or sick on trail?

Getting hurt on trail happens– most everyone will end up with bug bites, superficial scrapes, bruises and bumps. That’s just what happens when you play outside. We treat every minor and manageable injury that we can, in the field. For more serious injuries that require care beyond what our certified Wilderness First Responder staff can manage, we are equipped to make appropriate contact and highly trained to take appropriate action to get the care required efficiently and safely. In terms of illness, people can get colds, viruses and infections on trail just like they do at home. What we try to do is keep everyone as healthy as possible, despite the close proximity in which we work and live. Being rigorous about personal (and group) hygiene and eating nourishing foods is a big part of keeping a group healthy on the trail. When an illness does surface or spread, we treat it much like you would treat an illness at home—extra rest, lots of fluids, medication (if necessary for: fever, aches, pains, stomach ailments etc.) and TLC. Again, if any illness on trail requires care beyond what we can provide we will take appropriate action to obtain the treatment required.

Do you have scholarships available?

Yes. Deepwater Experiential Education Project is our not-for-profit branch that provides need and merit based scholarships to help folks attend our programs. Funding is allocated on a first come first serve basis. The earlier you apply, the better chance you have at receiving a scholarship. Funding deadline is April 30th of the current year. You can learn more about DEEP and download all application forms by visiting deepwaterproject.org

What if I can’t swim?

It’s important that you are comfortable in and around water, but you do not need to be an excellent swimmer. You don’t even need to float! We provide PFD’s (Personal Floatation Device) for each participant at the outset of the program.

What if I get my period on trail?

Getting your period on trail is no different than getting your period at home with the exception of not having a toilet to sit on. This can be an inconvenience for some, but for most, not a big deal and something you quickly get used to. Trip leaders will share our protocol and procedures at the outset of a trip on what to do when you have your period on trail. This will include: packing out your waste (tampons and/or pads) in a way you are comfortable with, making sure soap and hand sanitizer are accessible to you at all times, and accommodating your needs while on the move.