Editor’s note: Troop 52891 earned their Adventure Club patch during a three-day trip to the Boundary Waters last summer. The girls wrote this piece chronicling their trip during another Girl Scout badge event at the Loft Literary Center. This article was also featured in Minnesota Women’s Press.
Last summer, our Girl Scout troop went on a three-day trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. None of us had ever been there before, but all of us had been camping. We assumed it would be like past experiences. We were worried about the long canoe ride and the bugs, but excited to hang out with friends for three days.
We spent the first night at the Girl Scout base camp, where we met our guide, Bailey. She was the best! Bailey was a nurse-in-training, had lifeguard experience, and was great at cooking over a fire. She taught us the rules of the Boundary Waters, good camping strategies, and how to stay safe in the wilderness.
We had to prepare well for the trip. Everything we brought had to be carried on our backs and fit in the canoes. We didn’t want to bring anything unnecessary but also didn’t want to bring too little. Any garbage we created had to be brought back in the packs so we could preserve the wilderness.
After checking our gear to make sure it all fit in the packs and learning how to carry them, we started on our adventure. The water was more vast than what we had experienced before. There were no motorboats, so it was peaceful and calm. We saw snapping turtles, an otter, and lots of trees.
There are three places to sit in a canoe: If you sit at the bow, that means you have to paddle and are the motor of the canoe. If you sit at the stern, you steer. If you sit in the middle, you get to relax—you’re the princess!
We paddled for what seemed like forever, but it was really only five hours before we reached our campsite. Although it was rocky and on the side of a hill, the site had a pretty view of the lake and lots of shade. We set up our tents and went swimming.
Bailey told us we had to swim in life jackets and boots so our feet didn’t get cut on any sharp objects in the water. We thought she was crazy at first, but it ended up being really fun. We highly recommend it! When you swim in a life jacket, it pulls your body up. The boots also float, so it’s like being in a lounge chair. We played a lot of games, many that Bailey taught us.
Then we started to notice the crayfish. There were two types of crayfish: a rust-colored one and a blue one. The red crayfish are an invasive species, so Bailey suggested we collect those to eat with dinner. We set free any blue crayfish that we caught. We named one of them Alexander McBobbikins, who held a special place in Evelyn’s heart. We were all sad to watch him go.
As for the rust-colored crayfish, we fried them up in a pan with some olive oil. The adults and one member of our troop, Ming, ate the crayfish. Ming said they were delicious. None of the three of us had any because we kept thinking about Alexander McBobbikins. Still, it was interesting to see something we caught get cooked and eaten, and we were glad to help diminish the invasive population.
There were a lot of other foods that we enjoyed in the Boundary Waters. We had the fluffiest pancakes, burritos made with huge tortillas, pizza with a ton of cheese, pan-made brownies, and s’mores with chocolate frosting. Everything tastes better when you make it yourself in the woods over a fire!
Bailey was smart. She knew how to flip the canoe over and use it as a table for prepping food. She tied a tool belt around a tree, which held the utensils for our meals.
At night we played games like Werewolf, Murder in the Dark, and Mafia. Since we were camping, those games were kind of creepy, which also made them more fun. When it rained, it was nice to listen to the water hit the tarp above us.
At night in the tents, we laughed too much to be scared and slept peacefully. We had to deal with some very sharp rocks—Evelyn’s mattress popped!
One night, our parent chaperones woke us up to look at the stars. They were very pretty. We had never seen that many stars before. Normally we can’t see the stars because of all the city lights where we live.
For us, growing up generally seems like life skills are all about how to use a computer. After our trip into the Boundary Waters, we have new abilities. We paddled about 13 hours over the course of the trip. We learned about keeping our food away from bears, proper canoe techniques, putting up a tarp before it rains, safely cooking over an open fire, and new ways to swim.
Spending time with one another, and sharing these unique memories, makes us feel closer as troop members. After we got home, we were grateful for our beds, our toilets, and our houses. At the same time, we felt very accomplished.
The Boundary Waters has tough challenges, but we will always be grateful for the skills that we learned.
Troop 52891 – Eve, Evelyn, and Ava are Girl Scout Cadettes in a multi-level troop with over 50 troop members! Their troop is based out of Yinghua Academy, a Chinese immersion school in Minneapolis. Evelyn’s been a Girl Scout for six years and has earned her Bronze Award. She can’t wait for the Cookie Program to start so she can fund her next troop adventure to Taiwan. One of the best experiences Eve’s had with her troop is this very Boundary Water’s trip! She also enjoys skiing, drawing, music, and chilling with her friends. Ava’s favorite thing about Girl Scouts is making new friends and participating in troop activities like horseback riding and earning her Bronze Award. In her free time, she likes to dance, draw, and hang out with her friends.