By Todd Clauer, Outdoor Educator
Early Tuesday morning, July 9th, the Nivonim girls along with their counselors and Machnaut (camping) staff left camp to head to the Flambeau River State Forest for their Nivo canoe/camping experience for three days and two nights. With a mix of excitement and nervousness the girls were about to tackle the task of canoeing 37 miles over the course of the trip. They soon realized that the pristine wilderness river and forest were a perfect place for a getaway to continue to form bonds and test their leadership skills as a group. During this trip, the campers carry their gear, by canoe, down the river and are expected to help make sure that all elements of the experience go smoothly. Campers load and unload canoes, set-up and break-down camp, cook all meals, practice “leave no trace” when cleaning, and work with their counselors to plan meaningful programs that take advantage of being removed from any distraction
While the first day of canoeing was glorious, evening rain dampened the post-dinner programming and campfire experiences, causing all to go to bed early on night one. Thankfully, the rain subsided by the next morning and the second and longest day of canoeing went extremely well as the banot watched eagles soar overhead and practiced canoe steering skills through some light rapids. The second campsite sits at the junction of the north and south branches of the Flambeau River, one of the most well-known and paddled rivers in all of Wisconsin, providing a gorgeous setting for a final evening of swimming, eating and enjoying time in camp with their good friends. The final morning was perfectly sunny as they set about the final day of paddling including two sets of Class II rapids, perhaps the most exhilarating part of the experience. Even though very few of the girls had ever paddled on a river, they executed both sets of rapids to perfection, and the smiles and screams of joy from their mouths were so fun to witness! No doubt they were happy to return to camp, get away from the mosquitoes and take showers – but they also returned proud of what they individually and collectively accomplished, hopefully a significant highlight of their summer.
Next up will be the Banim (boys) trip on the same river, beginning today and finishing on July 18th. We’ll have to see if they can match the enthusiasm and success of the girls!