By William and Jack - Troop 408
William: This summer our "High Adventure" was in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area ("BWCA") in Northern Minnesota. The trip lasted about 1 week over the 4th of July. I liked being in the outdoors away from all civilization and the city. I was surprised to see so much water; I expected to see more forest. I liked looking at the stars at night, catching fish and drinking hot coco.
Our drinking water came from the lake, usually while we were canoeing out away from shore, by dipping our water bottles down under the water to about your elbow. The deeper you'd go the colder it got. When we'd come into shore, one of my jobs was pumping the water through the purifier so we could drink it. My favorite part of the trip was cleaning the fish right on the shore and then cooking them. If I had to do anything different, I would bring fewer clothes. I'd also bring a small folding chair or stool, but you just can't bring that many things with you. The saying is, "When in doubt, leave it out." The only scary moment of the trip for me was one night sitting around the camp-fire; we heard howling on the other side of the lake. I asked my dad what it was and he said, "That definitely is not a coyote, it's probably a wolf. They are up here." But, he assured me that we'd be okay.
Jack: I had never been to the BWCA. I looked forward to the trip, but prepared for the worst. I took the canoeing merit badge at Camp Cedars the prior summer. Luckily we never swamped our canoe in the BWCA, but I felt prepared to deal with it because we practiced it at summer camp. Also, I've always been a strong swimmer. I prepared for rain, mosquitoes, and a lot of paddling. As it turned out, the rain and mosquitoes were not bad at all. We only had two storms roll through…one early evening and one at night.
The camp-site we picked was in a good sized clearing along the shoreline that got a lot of direct sunlight during the day. I think this helped keep mosquitoes away. There are no reserved camp-sites up there; it's first-come first-serve. Also, you must camp in a designated camp-site. We did not really think about it when picking our site (probably because we were tired of paddling) but the camp-site we found was on the south side of an island. As it turned out, we had a pretty good breeze coming off the lake at all times. At dusk, it was smart to have a fire going due to the short burst of mosquito activity, but I'm used to that from camping closer to home in the summer.
I knew paddling would be hard, and it was every bit as hard as I expected. We were in a crew with others from our troop. I was in a 3-man canoe with my dad and younger brother, William, who paddled some but would also need to rest. Some crews in our Boy Scout troop canoed many miles and had over a dozen portages (carrying your canoe and gear over land). Our plan was to go in about 4 hours, find a nice spot and set up a camp. We only had 2 portages in and 2 portages out. For me, deciding to set up a base camp and do short day trips without all the gear was better for us. We had time to swim in the middle of the day when it was hotter and the water was choppy. That way, we focused on fishing earlier and later in the day. I caught my first walleye and northern pike. I hope to go back again some day.