Hello, everybody. I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t written anything, but they do indeed have the internet here, so chances are I’ll use a few of my 24 hours off each week to write something or other around here. So, here’s the sort of thing I’ve been up to.
All us newcomers started off our time here with Wilderness & Water Safety training. That was fun; it entailed learning some techinques for rescuing people from the water, and some other things, and after that we put these new learnings into practice. The thing about that was, winter here ended in early May. So the water was somewhere in the upper 40°s or lower 50°s, probably. Even so, we all survived the training, with the help of the state-of-the-art sauna in the Far South bathhouse. I never knew what the big fuss was about saunas until I tried this one for about the third time. That was the time that I stayed in for the right amount of time, and then I came out and felt so cleaned out. I’ll be using the sauna more over the next month here.
After WWS, we did Wilderness First Aid, more commonly known as WooFA. Manito-wish is a haven for acronyms and abbrevs., some of which get pronounced (usually awkwardly). There’s WWS, WFA, the TLC (Trout Lake Circle), the PO (Program Office), OC (Orange Crystals – they’re like Kool-Aid) PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices, occasionally called PooFDahs), and a slurry of others. Quite a few aren’t actually shorter than the thing they abbreviate. For example, TL has exactly as many syllables as “trail lunch” (and fewer than a simple “lunch”). A lot of these things are come up with on the spot, when the speaker feels that he’s running out of time to complete his sentence, I guess. It’s a little bit bewildering, and I’m not sure I care for it, but it seems to be here to stay. WFA, to return to my point, was a barrage of facts about wilderness first aid, all crammed into two days, but we ended up proficient enough, and we also got to watch some pretty cool videos about hypothermia featuring one Dr Gordon Giesbrecht, a Canadian known as the hypothermia guru. So that accounted for days 3 and 4.
The next days were staff training, things about what we do here and how to make a cabin that stays together well, and other stuff. The camp is divided into four age groups, from 11-12 to 14-15. There are also off-camp trips they run, called Outpost and Voyageur trips, that run in Alaska and Canada and other cool places for up to 40 days or maybe more – I don’t really know. This is a pretty active camp. People associate with it for a long time. They grow up with it. I don’t know what age group I’ll be with, but probably 12-13.
After a few days of staff training, there was the training trip. I’m going to use only first names when I talk about other people here. When there are two who have the same first name, I guess I’ll use a number. Fortunately, on the trip all our names were different. It was led by Ryan, who’s been here for a while; he led a retinue of seven guys: me, Ben, Josh, Jason, Alan, Scott, and Bill. We’re all going to be counselors. The trip took us through several lakes, most connected to the previous by a stream. The weather stayed just perfect for us, and in different ways. One day, it was warm but overcast, so we didn’t have to worry about sunburn. Another day, the sun was out but with big, friendly, puffy clouds overhead to give the sky almost a storybook feel. We paddled down the Manitowish1 river and over two lakes and saw bald eagles and a beaver or maybe an otter, and practiced our canoeing strokes, and just generally had a great time. At camp we had chili mac and a lot of free time to hang around. The next day we paddled a few more lakes – actually a few more than we were supposed to, and ended up on a simply incredible campsite on Jag Lake. Jag is small, clear, and has perfect beaches with sand and small rocks of all different colors. Our campsite is excellently open, and the wind was blowing into it at high speed just perfect for drying out my wet socks. We all went swimming and loved the place. We ate “Mexi-Fest”, which was dehydrated refried beans (“reefers”) with rice and chili powder and some other stuff, all in tortillas – delicious. The next day we portaged out of camp back to the Manitowish river, and paddled up it until we got to our campsite for the day, probably less than a mile from camp, on the same lake. We arrived before we even had lunch, so we had a whole day to just goof off there. Fortuitously, there are three campsites just there, and other trips were staying at the other two, so I got to play some cards with Alan and Josh and Lloyd (from the other camp, and he brought cards, good because mine had gotten soaked). One of the camps had too much food, so after we ate our “Chicken Fric” (I guess technically it was fricassee, but not really), we helped them get rid of theirs too. Josh and I specifically did that, because we’re always hungry. The only day I didn’t like so much was today. It’s a bad start when you get woken up by ravens at 6:50 AM. They would not move on! That is, until Ryan got sick of them and yelled some unkind words out the tent at them. We all enjoyed that. For the rest of the day, everyone from those three camps was going “CAAAWGH!” at each other, often across the bay, because those ravens were so annoying and ridiculous and hilarious. The weather had turned really cold, not June sort of weather, but we managed to stay alive okay, and we paddled back into camp at 2 PM after making cinnamon rolls. On second thought: we had cinnamon rolls. Today was okay. We cleaned all our dishes, and got all our stuff back to our cabins, and that brings me to now. I’m on my 24 hours off for this week, as is everyone else. I think I may try the BBB in town (Boulder Beer Bar – I hear they have excellent pizza and cheese curds) tonight, thought it’s raining again. Well, I’ve got rain gear. I’ll see if anyone else is planning on going. Tonight ought to be fun. Even if all I end up doing is finishing the book I’m reading while lying in bed.
The camp name is taken from the river name; the camp hyphenates its name to draw attention to the “wish”, for some reason. I think it’s kind of stupid, but it’s the right orthography, so I’ll abide by it. Also note it’s pronounced “man-i-too-wish”. ↩