Outdoor Adventure Leadership:
Chloe's life after being a camper and an apprentice at Machia Wilderness Camp.
In the fall of 2017, I started my studies at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. My program of focus is Outdoor Adventure Leadership (ADVL.) I’m also in a concurrent education course; this means I’ll graduate with a teaching degree. Throughout the summer after my first year I stayed in Sudbury and spent time working, doing summer school, paddling and travelling.
Most of my summer hours were spent working at Black Sheep Custom Sport Solutions in my boss’ garage. Six to twelve-hour days, sometimes even all-nighters, were spent repairing or building any kind of water vessel you could think of. Furthermore, a lot of my time was spent developing molds and making carbon fibre slalom or playboats (used in whitewater). Our work didn’t stop there; a lot of hours were put into designing, modifying and bettering our outfitting designs and boat shapes for optimal performance.
In July I decided to take some time off work and went on a solo road trip. The first stop was in Welland, Ontario, for a kayak polo tournament with some former national champions from Sudbury. Afterwards, I made my way to the Ottawa valley where I spent a week camping and took a whitewater kayaking course on the middle Madawaska River and being immersed into river culture. I met tons of amazing people and amazing boaters. Moving through the Ottawa Valley, I decided to stop further down to the lower Madawaska River to visit a friend and recent ADVL grad. We paddled tandem canoes and kayaks and spent the afternoons exploring and swimming in a beautiful waterfall. The next few days were spent visiting my roommate who was a co-worker at Black Sheep. He works as a raft guide at OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River. I went rafting with him and his family and we also went kayaking on his days off.
Upon my return to Sudbury, we decided to start getting feedback on our whitewater kayaks. We decided to send a carbon demo boat to the staff at OWL Rafting. The rest of my summer was spent travelling to and from OWL delivering, fixing and fine tuning the demo boat based on the feedback we received. In doing so, I met some great people and even some pro kayakers. With the time I got to spend at OWL I did a lot of photography and social media work to promote our product, and whenever there was free time, I’d spend it kayaking.
Although my summer was amazing, school had to start up again … But I couldn’t complain because my first classes this term were introduction to outdoor living skills and canoe tripping leadership. Intro to outdoor living skills consisted of my class of 25 students spending six days in the bush learning about basic to in-depth outdoor skills and survival techniques. We also spent a lot of time learning about soft skills which consist of philosophical lessons, how to be a good leader, etc. As an assignment, we had to choose a craft to be completed by the end of our six days. I made a bone knife and used an antler from an elk for the handle. We spent five nights under tarp shelter with no tents; the bugs were brutal. Although we were all sleep-deprived due to the bugs, I am grateful for the experience and had an amazing time.
Two days after our return from the bush, we set off on our canoe trip. We spent four days paddling approximately a hundred kilometres through the French River to Georgian Bay. We paddled through whitewater, two-foot swells in open water, portaged, slept through storms and woke up at four a.m. to start paddling. (We also had to canoe off the island we camped on to poop!) It was an amazing trip with some great classmates; I enjoyed pushing myself.
Since real classes have started again, I’ve been busy but filling my free time paddling with my roommates. We recently went on a five-day kayaking trip in Ottawa during our October break. We paddled the whitewater sections of the Ottawa River during the day and spent our nights around the fire. Three days after our return from Ottawa, I went on a four-day hiking trip for my wilderness camping course. We hiked about forty kilometres in the La Cloche Mountains, which are approximately two billion years old. I’ve never experienced such amazing views. That was my first overnight hiking trip and I thoroughly enjoyed it (minus the awful blisters…)
I hope the years ahead of me in ADVL provide me with even more opportunities to travel and explore everything the outdoors has to offer. I’m so grateful to have attended and worked at the Machia Wilderness Camp for as long as I did. This was where I discovered my love for the outdoors and it taught me how to appreciate everything it has to offer.