Nikolas de Wit
12 September 2018
Paddling to Adventure
I believe in experiencing the outdoors. As a Boy Scout, I can say that I have experienced some amazing things and have created many life changing memories. Things that most people won’t be able experience in a lifetime. From hiking for two weeks with only the gear on my back, to rafting down some of North America’s wildest rapids. Escaping the continuous engagement of everyday life and replacing it with unforgettable experiences.
The Boy Scouts of America was the perfect place for me to explore my interests and learn to take a step back from life every once in a while, and embrace the outdoors.
After twenty miles of paddling down the Boundary Waters between Minnesota and Canada which took ten hours we picked an island and set up camp. We decided to pitch tents first, squeezing four sixteen and seventeen year olds into a two man tent the size of a Smart Car. Keep in mind that all four of us measured at least 6 feet tall. It was a rectangular tent, ideally two people would sleep side by side longways, but in our case we were forced to sleep side by side short ways to even “fit” with our feet against the wall. As one of the senior scouts in my troop I had gotten used to the luxury of sleeping in my own tent and had forgotten the complications of sleeping with others. Lying down in a hot tent with the consistent rustling of sleeping bags echoing in my ears, it took me well over an hour to get to sleep. Constantly being awoken by others movements, in short not my best night in a tent.
The next morning we crawled out of the tent, one by one soaking in the scenery for the first time in daylight. A good sized clearing, opening right up to a small rock face cliff against the crystal clear, glass mirror boundary waters. Jack, one of my tent mates, was the first to bring up our sleeping situation “The Quartermaster preached that taking one tent would be enough for all four of us.. Obviously not”. Jack continued to mention the rangers words all day, even suggesting we sleep outside in a half joking fashion. Today we would reach the farthest point from base camp, extending our adventure a full thirty miles in two days. As we didn’t see another crew all day we truly embraced the remote, unspoiled vastness of the northern wilderness.
We decided to shorten our second day, after last nights late arrival it be nice to relax at camp while there was still daylight. After unloading our canoes and pulling them to shore, we decided to start setting up camp. However, it seemed that we came to the unspoken agreement that we just wanted to lie down and relax, and that’s precisely what we did. For the next three hours. Deciding that I had gotten enough rest, it was my job as crew leader to get camp situated, which meant setting up tents, the obvious downfall of our previous night. After discussing the problem with my fellow tent-mates we decided not to setup the tent, and sleep outside. Afterall we had just slept outside in the dirt for three hours, all night shouldn’t be a problem, they do call us the Boy Scouts of America for a reason.
The night which followed was by far one of my most memorable nights as a scout. Not sleeping under a tent, but on my back under the stars. Throughout the night I would wake and glance up at the sky, each time witnessing more and more stars appear, until the entire arm of the milky way was visible, it was unbelievable.
Adding this to my recollection of memories was an an amazing thing. I was able to leave behind conventional lifestyle and push the boundaries of experiencing the outdoors. Needless to say for the remainder of the trip, the tent never left the bag.
Nikolas de Wit