|As Real As It Gets - Canoe Tripping at Pioneer|
One of the great benefits of the tripping experience is that it stretches campers beyond their comfort zone. Most of us don't spend much time in the wilderness and so sleeping out under the stars and living without a flush toilet for a few days is a thrilling challenge. But even for those who are comfortable with campsite living, there is always another challenge around the next bend in the river. Increasing your skills in moving water, decreasing your ecological footprint, improving your knowledge of plants and animals - there is always another challenge to achieve, a next step for which to strive. And that striving takes the whole person. It is intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual. No part of you stays at home on a canoe trip; there is a challenge out on the river for everything that makes you who you are.
Canoe trips are also a highly relational space. At Pioneer, there is no such thing as a one-person trip. Every canoe has two seats, and putting up tents, negotiating a portage, or gathering firewood - none of these are solo activities. Trip groups work together from start to finish, prompting campers to develop their social skills through working in teams to accomplish tasks. The variety of experiences a trip offers encourage group members to experiment with different relational roles: leader, follower, peace-maker, or advisor, to name just a few. Furthermore, relationship is explored not only with other people, but with God as Creator and with the world He has made. In the wilderness, campers come far closer to the intricately interconnected world as God created it, without the mediations of modern society. Often, on a trip, "the heavens are telling the glory of God" in a voice much louder than can be heard in the city, and we are challenged to embrace our roles as care-takers for God's creation. Pioneer's canoe trips have prompted thousands of campers to grow relationships with creation - people and the natural environment - and with the Creator himself.
For campers at Pioneer, the valuable experiences of canoe trips come at an important phase of development. When young people are figuring out who they are and whom they want to be, a canoe trip can inject crucial ingredients like success, independence, relational skills, and interdependence into their recipe for identity formation. Just a few days in the wilderness can transform timidity or uncertainty into the confidence of "I made it!" and "We were a great team!" These important lessons come not shrink-wrapped or on a DVD, but with authentic grass stains, a little bit of ground-in dirt, and a splash or two or water. So come along on a Pioneer canoe trip this summer. Grab a paddle, a lifejacket, and a wide-brimmed hat - we're planning the route for real adventure!