Most of us started our camp experience as young bantams doing overnight canoe trips wondering how we could ever complete a five day, let alone a 36 day canoe trip. As the years went on, tripping became less of a challenge and more like a vacation. Doing Kipawa last year, a 22 day trip in Quebec, we created a special bond with the tripping lifestyle, which made us more than delighted to come back for Quetico. After a long winter of waiting, we finally received the news that we had gotten Quetico. Through various social media sites, we were able to connect with each other, including our international cabin mates from the United States and Switzerland.
We spent our first week at camp readjusting to camp life and getting excited for the experience of a lifetime. A few days into camp, the Quetico vibe was felt with an opening banquet to meet other cabins, and receive tips on how to make our trip the best possible. With lots to think about, we headed out on a two-day bus ride to Quetico Provincial Park. After those days filled with laughter and new friends, we received a quick introduction from Parks Ontario and before we knew it we were on our first campsite.
As the days went by and tripping became easier, we slowly turned from a group of nine friends into a well-oiled family of brothers. We made memories that will last the rest of our lives and jokes that will never be forgotten. We muscled our way through big lakes and tough portages. We knew that we could always count on each other to help us out of our problems, especially when we were waist deep in mud questioning our sanity. We watched each other grow not only physically, but mentally as well. Every day may not have been sunny and beautiful to the naked eye, but in our eyes they were still the best days of our lives.
Nearing the end of trip, none of us wanted to mention the fact that we were going to have to say goodbye to one of our newfound brothers early, due to school obligations. We had one last bonding experience before we had to say goodbye: The Grand Portage – a 14km trek from Pigeon River to Lake Superior. Throughout the trip, The Grand was seen as one of, if not the hardest challenge of Quetico. Surprisingly, the hardest part was knowing that it was the last portage of trip. We spent our last night of Quetico reflecting on our trip, enjoying each other’s company, and the next day we were at the airport preparing for our flight to Toronto. The flight was a blur due to an early morning wakeup and lack of sleep the previous night. Trip had vanished so fast and we had enjoyed every single moment of it. If we were given the chance to go back and change anything, we wouldn’t change a thing.
It had finally come to the point where we had to say goodbye. So there sat nine grown men in Toronto Pearson Airport bawling their eyes out and refusing to let go. Even though we were in public with multiple people watching us, we didn’t care. To be honest I couldn’t put it into words if I tried, but to say the least it was like a part of us left that day.
We will never forget the amazing memories and bonds we created with each other. Ahmek and trip means so much more to us then just a camp, for us it is a second home, somewhere we can be entirely ourselves. There is nowhere else we would rather be than where we are right now with our nine man family.
By: Keegan Rigby, Caleb Pauzé, and Northern Lights Cabin.