Each year, with Coldwater Canada, our students embark on a ten-day canoe trip through the spectacular Ontario wilderness. The trip is challenging but enriching; a fantastic opportunity for the students to kick off the year and bond with one another in a unique and meaningful way. Last month, it was the Year 4 cohort’s turn to take on Temagami!
Here are some reflections on the trip from the students themselves!
I had many eye-opening experiences on this canoe trip. I learned more about myself and my priorities, I grew physically by pushing myself to my limits, and I grew spiritually by feeling and witnessing God’s presence. I also grew in and with the Act Five community by being vulnerable and opening up alongside them. This trip helped me get to know this community in a deeper way, and I am thankful.
Incredible! This is the only word I can use to describe this insane trip that Act Five recently navigated. I went into this canoe trip not knowing what to expect in the slightest, which I think was for the best because I would never have pictured myself doing what we just did.
One of my trip leaders, Michelle, had explained before the trip that when you go out into the wilderness you get to experience these different “breaths”. She explained that when you get unloaded and start your first paddle you take your first breath. Then, you reach your first campsite and you take another breath. Then it’s the breath of realizing the gift of being present when you reach for your phone and it’s not there, and then a breath when you complete your first portage, followed by many more breaths. And she was right—I had never felt these sorts of breaths before. My favourite breaths were the ones where I would sit on a rock for morning thought and get to soak in the view as we were immersed in God’s wonderful creation, or the ones where I would look into the sky and it would be filled with an insane number of stars. By going out into the wilderness and being intentional in practicing stillness and presence, I met God.
Being present is hard in our society. Everything is about the next step and schedules are always packed full. But coming back into the “traffic” after our canoe trip I realize the importance of taking time to step out of it, take in the moments, and ask God for guidance. This can be done through the practice of being still, being present. I want to continue to practice what Matt, the program director, had encouraged us to do during the trip: being present through leaning in, trusting, and being yourself.
The canoe trip was something… special. If you’re familiar with the idea of type 2 fun, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Seemingly endless portages and wet sleeping bags all led to a trip I’m going to remember for a long time.
The reason it’s so memorable is because of how I saw God through, and in, His creation. Temagami is truly one of the most beautiful places in Canada, and through some awesome discussions and insights from our guides, we could really see how God was working in His creation and in all of us. The trip was something special, and I’m going to remember it for a long time.
The canoe trip was an incredible time for the students to experience God through creation, solitude, and their growing relationships with one another. Throughout the rest of the year, they will carry this experience with them as they continue to learn and grow.
Stay tuned for more adventures with this year’s cohort!