Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau – A Connection to TSC Values.

Quotes from Henry David Thoreau and his love for the Canadian wilderness are often heard within the Taylor Statten Camps community. Whether it is his love for canoeing or the importance of preserving the environment, it is interesting to reflect on what he represents for Camp Ahmek and Camp Wapomeo. Below is an excerpt from a morning mediation presented by Owen, one of our Ahmek staff members, delving into the impact of Thoreau’s work.

“He is credited as having been one of the first and foremost environmental writers as he pushed environmental issues and environmental writing into the mainstream. Thoreau was a transcendentalist; he and his followers believed in a connection between the physical world around us and a deeper, more spiritual, world beyond it. Thoreau said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world”. This quote and many of his theories can be applied in a variety of ways to our day-to-day lives here in camp and on canoe trip. Today, I will talk about the ways in which we choose to interpret our surroundings in the wilderness and the importance of creating a relationship with the non-human world around us.

Thoreau embodied one of the first outspoken voices that looked on the vastness and mystery of the wilderness in a positive light; he attempted to change society’s fundamental view of what the wilderness represented. Areas like Algonquin Park have not always been appreciated in the ways that they are today. The wilderness was often viewed as an obstacle to be conquered. Remote areas, devoid of human society, were associated with chaos as they lacked the order that was present in settled environments. Order represented safety and security; thus, prevailing attitudes towards the wilderness were not nearly as positive as they are today.

Through his writing, Thoreau used the lack of order present in nature to transform these prevailing attitudes. In his most famous work, Walden, Thoreau shows many ways through which the vastness of nature could be valued. The heart of Thoreau’s argument was that by not venturing into the vastness and relative “chaos” of the wilderness, humans have limited themselves through ordered, urban societies. Thoreau was the first writer to present the chaos that existed in wilderness environments as a virtue. Thoreau’s theory implies the importance of creating ones’ own unique relationship with the environment. Thoreau’s goal was to underscore the importance of the non-human while, in a sense, decreasing the human perception of the importance of our existences over those of both the animate and inanimate in nature.”

Owen shines light on what Thoreau’s work means to TSC by stating that, “at camp and on trip, we have the opportunity to live life the way that Thoreau valued most. While in nature and on canoe trip our thoughts seem clearer as we return to the most basic form of our existences. We accomplish this by creating a genuine relationship with the non-human. What we see around us in the wilderness has the capacity to shape us by inspiring awe and amazement; each day we appreciate our surroundings as Thoreau thought all humans should.”

Well said, Owen!

Canadian wilderness in all its beauty