Early morning Saturday we had a 1.5 hour drive from Ottawa to Gracefield Camp to arrive by 10am. Karen Hurd was there to greet us and usher us down a single lane through the forest to our campsite.
We unpacked, set up our tent, got into our canoeing clothes and met up with our instructor, Mark Scott. He has lots of jokes. First we went to Archery to practice shooting an arrow with a bow. Afterwards we went on a camp tour so we could see all of the area we could explore during our free time. Finally we got onto the water after lunch.
We learned the "power stroke" or forward stroke. Then we learned the pry and the draw. These move the boat in circles. My Mum learned the J - Stroke. Later in the afternoon we did canoe over canoe rescues. When we did the rescues one canoe had to tip over and the other canoe had to help them get back in! It was the most fun part. The swim test was funny because I had to swim in an area where the water only came up to my legs. So I pretended I couldn't touch.
We dried off and while my Mum made dinner the kids got to colour t-shirts that had a picture on them and then we could take them home as a souvenir. We had dinner and a campfire with marshmallows. It was really fun to sleep in a tent.
Sunday morning we ate breakfast and went to archery again. This time I got a "bull's eye" award. We had free time so my Mum and I went for a walk around Gracefield camp and also practiced our knots we learned from one of the other instructors. My favourite was the Figure 8 and the Bowline where the bunny comes up the hole and around the tree and back down the hole.
After lunch we went on the water again and learned the backstroke and some other strokes that I can't remember. But I did learn the American stroke from our instructor Mark, and we used it a lot to soak other boats when we were hot.
We swam after canoeing was done since it was so hot. Then we had dinner and got ready for campfire, stories and songs. We met some really nice other kids from our paddling group and played jokes on each other and laughed a lot.
On Monday morning we got to go straight to the water for more canoeing. We were practicing what we learned from Sunday and then we were going on a canoe trip to see the other side of the Gracefield property. We canoed up to an old campsite (Bruno’s) that used to have a haunted cabin and visited Turtle rock but it was busy with the "Repeats" group. We paddled back along the shore to our beach and got out for lunch. After lunch we took our tent down and packed up. It was getting later in the afternoon so we did not go on the hike.
I want to come back next year and bring my little sister so I can go in the Repeats group and she can have fun with my Mum. Maybe my Dad and littlest sister will come too. It's fun to camp and canoe.
By Rasika (age 9)
Thanks to all who contributed to an excellent weekend! 41 people were involved. Karen
Rasika’s Beginner Tandem Group (Mark instructing assisted by Catherine & others)
Another beginner tandem group (John instructing assisted by Cameron)
The “Repeats” group learning canoe tripping skills (Peter instructing assisted by Cory & Andrew)
Second Beach where we launched 18 canoes and 2 kayaks each day.
How to get cool on a hot day!
A view from the Lookout overlooking Lac Castor Blanc (Turtle rock is visible)