Janik Henglefelt

Extreme Camping

MODG senior James LaFave is headed to the Arctic this summer

Most people have gone camping at least once.  It is a good way to spend time with friends and get out in the wilderness.  However, some people go farther out in the wilderness than others.

James Lafave, an MODG senior,  recently completed a 28-day-long excursion in northern Ontario.  This was made possible by a YMCA wilderness camp based out of northern Minnesota called Widjiwagan.  Kids ages 11 to 18 can go on planned trips which range from five to 40 days, depending on experience level.  James was accompanied by two other teenagers and an adult leader.  Since boating was the focus of the trip, James and his travel companions spent a day practicing white water boating before setting out.

Just being alone in the wilderness for so long, it gives a whole new perspective on everything. I think it’s one of the best ways to experience God’s creation in the truest form. ”

— James LaFave

“I’ve always loved the outdoors,” he said, “probably because of growing up in Montana which gives so many opportunities for skiing, fishing, etc. On these trips, however, it’s pretty different. Just being alone in the wilderness for so long, it gives a whole new perspective on everything. I think it’s one of the best ways to experience God’s creation in the truest form. It’s also nice to take a break from a lot of things in everyday life, such as technology, which can sometimes be pretty hard.”

Outings as long as this require much more detailed planning than a typical weekend trip.  James stresses the importance of good preparation before undertaking such an adventure.

“Food is a pretty big part of these trips.When we get to the camp in Minnesota, we spend a few days getting our food quantities sorted out and packed. We use a lot of carbs,and dried fruit, stuff that doesn’t really expire immediately. Pasta and rice, dehydrated potatoes, tortillas and flour are some of the most basic stuff used for dinner. For lunch, we use a lot of peanut butter, gorp, raisins, crackers, stuff that’s pretty light, but is still really good at giving energy. For breakfast oatmeal is a pretty big one, or granola with powdered milk. If we’re taking a rest day, we have time to make more elaborate foods, such as cinnamon rolls or calzones. When I’m home, looking back on the food we bring, it doesn’t seem all that great, but when you’re out there, it all tastes so good.   We plan pretty carefully to have enough food to last the whole trip, but I try to fish sometimes to add something different to the menu.”

Twenty-eight days in the wilds of southern Canada would be plenty of outdoor time for most people, but James is not done yet.  He is planning a trip to the arctic circle for 40 days this summer.  This is a very rare opportunity and James is really looking forward to it.

“I guess the most simple reason would have to be that it’s a once in a lifetime experience.  Although I’m a little intimidated, I know that not a lot of people will get this opportunity, and I’m pretty lucky to get this chance.It will be something I’ll remember my whole life.”

James said that his list of supplies will be greatly altered for this one-of-a-kind camp.

“For this trip, I’ll definitely have to bring warmer clothes and gear. I’m planning to bring knee-high rubber boots to help with the cold water, and a down sleeping bag. I’m also bringing fleece and fleece pants with warm gloves and a hat. It’s also recommended to bring a net shirt that goes around your head, to keep out the bugs. Rain jacket and rain pants are also pretty important,” James said.



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