“The canoe trips I lead were stepping stones for the adventures that followed.”

May 7, 2010

Or… “Why Langskib is like Mongolia”, by alumni Dave Roberts.

It has been over thirty years since I lead my last trip from the dock at Langskib canoe camp for boys.  I was a camper on the first Temagami Trip the year Dave Knudsen bought Camp Windshift which became Langskib. I was one of the first leaders, I co-lead the first Dumoines River Trip. I lead CG on his very first canoe trip; he later became the best assistant I had the pleasure of working with.

A lot has happened since I left Langskib;  some good, some not as good. I moved to the West, I worked as a cowboy on several cattle ranches in Colorado, I lead elk and deer hunters on horse pack trips into the Rocky Mountains for 11 years, did many other jobs, lived in several places. I married, raised kids, divorced and ended up with a desk job shuffling paper. I soon plan on changing that desk job to something more exciting.

Last year, life was getting a little too slow and too domesticated, I was missing the adventures I had leading canoe trips, the traveling into the unknown, not knowing where camp will be until evening comes. I missed the nomadic life I lived as a cowboy. So I packed some belongings and traveled to Mongolia for three weeks. The people there still live the same as they did 800 years ago when Genghis Khaan ruled. They live in tents called Gers, they move their livestock with the season, packing all their worldly belongings onto ox drawn carts and live off the land. Mongolia is great, just what I was looking for, people with a nomadic spirit. The entire time I was in Mongolia I never felt alone, everywhere I went people treated me as a friend. I spent days galloping a horseback across the Mongolian Steepe with nomadic horseman, I stayed in their Gers, I learned their culture and shared experiences with them. I am learning their language and plan to return to Mongolia next year to visit with Mongol friends and other friends I have yet to meet.

Canoe Camp Leader Dave Roberts in Mongolia

Interesting enough, where I traveled in Mongolia is exactly the other side of the world from Langskib; same latitude as Langskib and exactly 180 degrees difference in longitude. I could not help to think back on the experiences at Langskib and the skill I learned. The canoe trips I lead were stepping stones for the adventures that followed. I was hired as a hunting guide and cowboy because of my skills I learned at Langskib, the ability to live in the wilderness. As Koonze, a cowboy friend, said “We are men that do not need to go home at night.” At the end of the day, home was where we camped, just as it was leading canoe trips. What was hardship to many was just another day on the trail for me.

Several years back I had the thrill of watching my daughter go out on her first Northern Lights Trip and several other trips in the following years. Stepping onto the dock at Langskib for the first time in thirty years brought back memories, seeing Northwaters for the first time show me how much the camp has grown since I worked there. And watching my own daughter return from canoe trips was an emotional experience beyond words for me, having my own daughter learn and experience the same things I did when I was her age.

Soon I will be up at Langskib and Northwaters for the Alumni Weekend. I hope to see old friends and share experiences with others who lead trips over the years.

Life itself is the journey, what an adventure!!

DR/

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