Daniel Hughes and Zach Buckland leaving on the first day from the marina. (Photo submitted)
Daniel Hughes and Zach Buckland leaving on the first day from the marina. (Photo submitted)

OTTAWA — In early July members of Boy Scout Troop 224 traveled to Lake Nippising in the Canadian province of Ontario. Native Americans call the special visitors to their area “voyagers.” It is the eighth trip the scouts have made to this area.

The scouts made the trip to the area to travel down the upper French River to take part in a 65 or 80 mile down the river. Twenty-three scouts and 20 adult volunteers took the trip.

The scouts were divided in to three crews. One crew took the 65-mile journey and the two other crews took the 75-80 mile trip down on the French River. Crew leaders were Zack Buckland, Cody Sheets, Daniel Ketner and Nick Fenbert, all Eagle Scouts. All of the crew leaders had taken the trip before.

“Many times the adult volunteers looked up to the crew leaders because of the experience they had,” said Scout Master Scott Ketner. “Especially the adults who had never taken the trip before.

Ketner said they have been planning for the trip for nearly a year with each leader ‘taking a piece of the pie’ in the planning.

“All of the parents and scout leaders did something to make this trip happen,” Ketner said. He gave special thanks to Karl and Lynne Hirzel who went along as adult volunteers. He said Karl has been on many of these trips before. “We always appreciate his organizational skills and the use of his trailer to haul many of the canoes.”

“It is a very challenging week for the boys,” Ketner said. In addition to learning to depend on each other the scouts also learn how to work as a team, On the trip the scouts and adults use MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) and bring along a water filtration system. They also do fishing and clean and cook their own fish.

The trip also includes going through rapids, learning to body surf, and cliff jumping.

“They don’t have to do these things, but it is offered as a challenge for the scouts,” Ketner said.

“They learn to work together on the trip. Everyone pitches in together to survive.” Ketner said the crew often burn their duty rosters a few days into the trip when they understand how the team effort is required.

Modern conveniences including flush toilets, electronics, and cell phones are not part of the canoe trip.

All of the crews had one day during their trip down the French River when they returned to the Marina for a full meal. The meal included turkey, potatoes, dressing and vegetables.

On the last day the scouts held a “Pirate War” using their canoes.

“I love to see how the boys mature and learn during the trip,” Ketner said. “In many ways they grow from boys into men.