A group navigates their canoes through various obstacles in the wilderness. Photo Credit: Mark Bugbee
Village Seventh-day Adventist Church, Village Adventist Elementary School 7 and 8th graders, and their parents united to build bonds, strengthen bodies, and appreciate God’s handiwork on a trip to the remote Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Minnesota wilderness area is over 1 million acres in size and contains over 1,000 miles of canoe routes to explore and enjoy.
Opportunities for cooperation were plentiful, as the canoes and equipment needed to be portaged, and the camp and meals had to be set up and prepared as often as paddlers switched campsites. There are over 2,000 campsites to choose from and over 1,000 lakes, rivers, and streams.
A striking example of teamwork emerged when William (Bill) Foltz broke his foot. His group was portaging between lakes when he stepped on a rock that rolled under his foot. At the time, the group thought the ankle injury was a simple sprain. Team members crafted crutches, applied a charcoal poultice, and performed hydrotherapy treatments.
Rather than turning back to drop off their wounded comrade, the team finished the multi-day canoe trip together. Bill’s group helped carry his pack and canoe over portages and provided an arm to lean on in difficult situations. Furthermore, they built a chair for him to sit on. Foltz explained the care he received fondly, “My team was just the best people you could ever be with. They really cared, they watched out for me. I am sure they sacrificed something but it never appeared that way.”
About three weeks later Bill learned that he had actually broken his foot. He is currently recovering from an operation to mend the break. Even though his bone was broken on the trip, the team spirit was not. Bill remembers: “The team I was with really, really came together.”
Pressing together is one of the main goals of the trip. Pastor Ron Kelly, of Village SDA Church, initiated the program. The annual adventure promotes intergenerational mixing and provides a chance for the church, school, and family members to form new friendships. These connections create natural opportunities for streams of wisdom and spirituality to flow through participants.
Pastor Kelly started canoeing 40 years ago in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. For the last 15 years he has led such group trips. A few goals of this endeavor include: connecting with God though nature, facilitating opportunities for kids to see the power of creation, and growing their confidence by taking risks and accomplishing difficult challenges. Additionally, the trip provides opportunity to bond the youth with their parents and pastors.
The broad wilderness provided ample opportunity for peace and perseverance. Many canoeists enjoyed the scenic views and wildlife. However, when portaging through the woodlands, one group ran into a rare and furry creature. A student yelled: “Bear!” Immediately, the bruin took off into the woods. Thankfully, one day soon, there will be no more fear between human and beast.
Cooperation and caring are attributes Christ displayed; attributes fostered by the group canoe trip. The world is drifting into trying times. The closer we are bonded, and the more we paddle in unity, the easier will be our journey.
Robert Rice, PhD, Village Church Bible Worker