Looking Back on Canoe Trip


Looking Back on Canoe Trip

Leo de Ruiter


Photo by: Jacque Labatt – 50 Day 2016 – Staff: Leo de Ruiter & Dylan Randle

With registration open, special trip applications coming in, and all the thanksgiving posts taking over social media, I’ve been reminiscing on canoe trip quite a bit. So, when I was asked if I wanted to write something for the camp blog, I felt like this was good timing to speak on behalf of my experience with canoe trip and the Taylor Statten Camps.

Although I’ve had some trouble putting my finger on what it is specifically, there really is something magical about being out on a canoe trip. There’s something almost therapeutic about it all – with your only worries being your next stroke, finding that next portage and wondering what campsite you will find for the night. Canoe trip gives us the capability to actually escape the daily stresses of the “real world”. I put those words in quotations because to me, the real world is out there on the water, on that next portage and enjoying everything that canoe trip encompasses.

Spending hours in a canoe creates a level of bliss that is hard to find anywhere else, allowing your mind to wander in the most intriguing ways. Having the opportunity of going on canoe trip through my youth gave me something that is becoming more and more rare among younger generations. It gave me the chance to think thoroughly and deeply about things. What would I have done differently, or how can I do more, be nicer, treat others better; the list goes on as you can imagine. On some of my longer canoe trips I went through everything from what career I wanted to pursue to what I was going to get my grandmother for her birthday; thoughts bouncing from topic to topic. This was quite a liberating experience. Being able to have the time to think is something I took for granted while being on canoe trip. The amazing thing about canoe trips is that not only do they allow for introspection and personal growth, but also the ability to grow within a group.

50 Day – Leo de Ruiter with co-campers 2010

Have you ever heard “Camp friends are forever friends”? While absolutely true, I feel like this still doesn’t quite describe the type of friendships that are created while spending summers at the Taylor Statten Camps.  Friendships at TSC are strengthened and intensified by the canoe trip experience – there is no doubt about it. Every paddle creates a rhythm unique to your group, you portage together, set up the campsite together and so on… On a trip you are surviving together, you have a common goal and are always working as a team to accomplish it.  This provides a special bonding experience because while you are growing as an individual, you are simultaneously growing as a group. Though you have much time to think, you also have endless time to share your thoughts. This leads to something that not all of us get the opportunity to experience. As a guy, growing up I found that I was not expected to share my feelings and emotions. I felt a sense of embarrassment to delve into sensitive topics, my feelings and/or emotions with friends.  At Camp Ahmek, canoe trip has given me and my peers the chance to step out of our comfort zone, and I am so thankful for this.  TSC canoe trips gave me an opportunity to share in a space that felt safe. Canoe trip made me more sensitive and I am not afraid to say that. It allowed me to look within and taught me more about myself than anything else I have ever experienced.

Overcoming the physical and mental adversities of paddling and portaging long distances in all types of conditions, has given me so much more than I could have ever imagined. From the perspective of being a teammate, an individual, a leader and a member within a community, I would not be the person I am today without my summers spent at Camp Ahmek (and of course, on canoe trip).

Welcome Lake

Currently, I am the Canoe Trip Coordinator at TSC and this position has fulfilled a childhood dream of mine. Having been a camper since the age of 7, canoe trip has truly become a part of my identity. Through the canoe tripping program at the Taylor Statten Camps, I have had the surreal chance to have spent over 300 days on canoe trip. With every one of these days, I learned that each summer brings new adventures, new friendships, new campers and staff. With each summer, someone else gets to fall in love with canoe trip. To be a part of this is incredible.

 Here’s to summer 2019 and more canoe trip adventures!


Learn more about our canoe tripping program!