A canoe and outdoor adventure camp for young women
Our young women’s trip is a 3 ½-week canoe camp that helps equip girls with the tools they need to be strong woman in our culture- women who embrace femininity, adventure, integrity, challenge and community. Northwaters is a place to discover and celebrate our unique gifts. It’s an opportunity to realize our potential and what we are capable of. It’s an experience that will empower girls to understand who they are and what type of woman they want to be.
Sections of 8 to 10 young women, along with two of our most experienced female leaders, embark on a 20-day canoe trip through the lakes and rivers surrounding our island base camp. No previous outdoors experience necessary.
With no fuel for judgment, concerns about appearance or the formation of cliques, young women can peel off the layers of societal norms and expectations. Working together to meet the challenges of wilderness living and traveling through the unspoiled beauty of the region, this canoe camp teaches the girls how to live without accessories and how to be their true selves. They learn to embrace each other’s differences, honour their individuality and discover their own gifts. The girls learn to support one another, trust one another and how to build a strong, healthy community- lessons that are often difficult to learn at school.
Getting Started: Arriving at Base camp
There is a wonderful camaraderie that comes with sharing adventures and living intimately with a group of like-minded young women. When the girls arrive at our island base camp we welcome them with a home cooked dinner, games and perhaps a sunset swim. Afterward we have a community gathering where returning participants and leaders share stories of their own first experiences at Northwaters. Our next full day at base camp is spent getting to know one another, and gathering skills we’ll need on trail- lifting and carrying canoes, wannigans and Duluth packs, team building and of course paddling about the pristine waters of Lake Temagami!
The 20-day Canoe Trip
Each section will spend time in base camp at the beginning and end of the session where they will enjoy the larger community. Once we get to know each other, we form groups and plan trips according to the skills, experience and dynamics of the section. Once the girls head out on their canoe trip with their peers, they begin to form the strong bonds that distinguish this unique and important experience.
Depending on the age and experience level of the group, a young women’s trip may travel the breathtaking local waterways of the Temagami region or a more challenging whitewater river in Ontario or Quebec. Our experience is that these trips are less about where you go and much more about how you get there.
On a 20-day trip each girl has ample time not just to master the wilderness and camp skills required for backcountry travel, she has time to truly been seen- by her peers and herself. Without the often busy and fragmented schedule of home and school, she can find balance within the community and herself. The Trip for Young Women allows girls the space, and affords them the time to discover and become their authentic selves.
The transformation of these girls from the outset of their journey to the final paddle back to base camp is remarkable. What often begins as a self-conscious, apprehensive and disconnected group of girls quickly evolves into an empowered, confident and cohesive group of young women.
All sections return to base camp on the same day within minutes of each other. They paddle in to a hero’s welcome from the staff and directors awaiting them on the docks. The sections all gather in the dining hall for a celebratory feast and to share their stories. The next day is spent re-entering the larger community. We continue to share stories as we de-outfit our trips, do ‘giveaways’ and get together in the Teepee to honour each young woman for her accomplishments, success, gifts and contributions to the community. The next day participants from our brother program, Langskib, arrive in Voyageur canoes to celebrate with Northwaters participants, staff and parents. Together, we have a giant barbecue and celebration where we hear from every single section about their adventures on the trail.