Northern Lights for Girls (2 weeks, ages 11-14)


A canoe camp empowering girls through adventure, community and creativity

Northern Lights is an empowering 2-week canoe trip for girls that allows a young woman to connect to their authentic selves—apart from the expectations of today’s media and culture. Weaving current educational, psychological and anthropological research with over 40 years of experience in outdoor education, we offer a wilderness canoe camp for girls that will help your daughter enter adolescence with enhanced confidence and strength of spirit.

Getting Started: Arriving at Base camp

Our goal is to help each girl feel a part of the community from the beginning. When the girls arrive at our island base camp we welcome them with a home cooked dinner and settle them into cabins. Afterward we have a community gathering where returning participants and leaders share stories of their own first experiences at Northwaters. The next day in base camp we weave practical canoe tripping skills with team building, native crafts, storytelling and fun activities designed to foster trust and inspire sharing.

The 10-Day Canoe Trip

The primary goal of each canoe trip is to create a trusting community in which each girl can find her own voice. Once we get to know each of the girls, we split into smaller tripping sections of 6-8 (based on age, experience level and individual needs). Each section, guided by two of our most experienced leaders, sets out on a 10-day canoe journey tailored to meet the specific goals of its unique group.

Our girls’ canoe trips paddle through some of the most beautiful country in eastern Canada—from pristine lakes with crystal clear blue water and ancient pine forests to gentle rivers that wind their way through the Cambrian Shield.

Girls will learn how to paddle bow and stern on flat water, portage (carry gear across land from lake to lake), set up and take down camp, care for equipment, cook meals and share responsibilities as they travel, all the while working with other young woman as a valuable member of a community.

Returning Home

When the girls paddle into base camp at the end of their canoe trip, each section is greeted with cheers and a warm welcome! The air is filled with laughter, excitement and a sense of justifiable pride. That evening the girls share stories about their adventures with poetry, songs or skits.

The celebration continues the following day with a bit of rest and relaxation including creative projects that honour their adventure. Girls gather in the kitchen with our cook to prepare for the celebratory feast, making pizzas which we then bake in our outdoor brick oven. Then its time for singing, dancing and enjoying the feast! Finally, as the sun begins to set, we close the evening with our traditional closing ceremony in which each girl is individually honoured by her trip leaders.

At the end of the session, parents, friends and participants from our brother program, Excalibur, arrive at Northwaters for our final celebration and barbecue. We gather in the evening to hear from each section as they share their adventures through poetry, songs and skits.

Early the next morning, the girls pile their gear into our boats for the journey back into the village of Temagami to begin their trip home to family and friends. There are lots of hugs and some tears as good-byes are exchanged.

It is our hope that each girl is left not only with memories of a very special wilderness experience, but with an enduring strength of spirit to help her make her way in today’s world.


Enroll in Northern Lights for Girls.

“Imagine a place where your daughter could realize her full potential. A place where she was encouraged to be independent, adventurous and confident. A place that explored choices so that her future would be full of unlimited possibility! A place where days would be spent paddling ancient lakes carved by glaciers… whose waters remain unchanged to this day. A place where her creativity would be celebrated through clay, drawing, writing and storytelling. A place where nights around a campfire would be filled with the call of loons, Northern Lights and traditional stories from around the world, stories about young women, just like her, coming of age.

Imagine a place where your daughter could be both challenged and nurtured. A place where she could come to understand the true meaning of friendship and the true meaning of community. A place where she could talk freely of her hopes and dreams, her thoughts and feelings. An authentic place, to find balance, free from texting and screen time. A place to have FUN! A place to sing! A place where she would feel welcome as she crosses the bridge from childhood to adolescence. A place where this important time of transition was recognized and honoured. Imagine a place, where in the company of other young women, she could grow strong in spirit.

We believe Northwaters is such a place. We believe Northern Lights is such a program.”

-Cynthia Knudsen, Northern Lights founder and artistic director