Day 1: No Fear

Day 1:

In the past several months I’ve been recruiting. I’ve been asking high school students to join us for a trip on the Mississippi River, spending five days canoeing and camping.  Some of the people I've talked to are interested but mostly they are afraid. Afraid to be without their phone, afraid of the water, afraid of being on their own. But 6 amazing kids showed up today, not because they weren’t afraid but because their sense of adventure was greater than their fear.

Some of them beat me to the office this morning they were so ready to go.  We loaded up the boats and set off from Helena Harbor… and headed straight into a headwind.  It wasn’t easy paddling but there wasn’t a complaint to be heard as we cruised under the Helena bridge and down to Montezuma towhead.  We stopped for lunch and every one of them got straight into the water, even if they didn’t know how to swim.


We divided up duties and Wilson and Johnny became the first Lead Paddler’s of the trip, taking on the hardest position in the boat at the bow.   They set the pace and guided us to our camping site at Montezuma Island. We got in early and practiced steering the small boats and self rescue techniques.  

Then it was time to set up our campsite.  Two teams competed to see who could get their tent up first then we split up into jobs of cooking, gathering firewood and planning out the next day’s route.  


After a delicious dinner of vegetables and pork we spent some time shared out reflections from the day.  Overwhelmingly, they were all impressed by how quickly they bonded, how they each had to overcome their fears to be here, and how it was worth it!  

We are all going to bed early tonight because they decided they want to wake up at dawn and paddle 20 miles to Island 64 tomorrow.  These kids can’t be stopped!


Shannon McMulkin