Early Stewardship Leads to Lifelong Adventures in Wild Places

Bringing youth into the wild fosters confidence and leadership skills that, along with the memories of their time on the river, will last a lifetime. Nahanni Guide Isaac reflects on this year's Kilcoo-Nahanni expedition, and how it's truly an experience for all ages.

For the last 20 years, Nahanni River Adventures has collaborated with Kilcoo Camp from Haliburton County, Ontario to put together an annual voyageur adventure for youth on the Nahanni River. Through their participation in camp activities and wilderness experiences, the youth of Kilcoo are encouraged to become leaders in their communities while also learning outdoor skills and training. The values they learn on these expeditions—those of independence, stewardship and responsibility towards each other and the environment they’re exploring—have always resonated with us and we are proud to continue the legacy of this adventure.

Canoeing through Canada's deepest river canyons on the Nahanni River in Canada's Northwest Territories.
Canoeing through Canada’s deepest river canyons on the Nahanni River in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

One of our guides-in-training, Isaac, helped facilitate the 2019 trip and gave us some firsthand observations of the journey:

“The 2019 Kilcoo-Nahanni journey was a multi-week canoe and hiking expedition from Honeymoon Lake on the South Nahanni River to Fort Simpson on the Mackenzie River. It included a five-day hiking trip up into the Cirque of the Unclimbables. We were a group of 15 (11 youth aged 15-16, two staff from Kilcoo and two staff from Nahanni) with eight canoes.

The boys faced the physical challenges with long days on the water and big hikes on the side but also and social challenges—being in a tight group for such a long time and sleeping in tents together every night. But I think the biggest challenge for them was the independence and self regulation that we let them attack. They blew me away by how successfully they conquered all of the obstacles mentioned.

They learned many things while it was their turn to cook, to navigate or to set up their camp and came to realize how much they could accomplish. 

Nahanni Dead Man's Valley from Cabins of 1000 Paddles
Nahanni Deadmen Valley from Cabin of 1000 Paddles

As a guide-in-training I felt so lucky to be on this trip with such an athletic and willing group of youth, it enabled me to go on many day trips and side hikes that I hadn’t seen before. The Scow Creek day hike was definitely one of my highlights, with an incredible vantage over Deadmen Valley and an unreal view of Second Canyon that rivals the Colorado River’s famous Horseshoe bend!

At the end of the trip I was very excited for the boys who were going back to their camp in August as wilderness leaders. It was amazing to see their improvement with both hard and soft skills, and I am sure they will bring these new skills back with them to their camp and throughout their lives.”

All ages can enjoy Canada’s awesome wilderness; if you’re interested in paddling these wonderful waterways with your family—we encourage you to do so! If you have any questions on abilities or finding the best journey for your interests, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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