Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Canoe Trip to Algonquin Park

On Thursday 25th October 15 brave students rolled out of Ridley at 6am heading towards Algonquin Park for a three night canoe camping trip. Chaperoned by Giles and Fiona Campbell, Matt Bowie and Bill Gittings our intrepid campers were greeted with fine bright weather and many paddled into the park in shorts and T-shirts. The evening rolled in and everyone enjoyed some slightly burnt pasta and delicious meatballs! Some even went swimming. Marshmallows around the fire with jokes and stories put everyone in a great mood for the trip.

The next morning was overcast, but the campers, filled with eggs and bacon, broke camp and paddled from Joe Lake up through Tepee, into Littledoe and then onto Tom Thompson where we were to camp for the remaining two nights. We had an eventful portage over a beaver dam where Mr. Gittings fell in and a few wet feet were had by others! We set camp, gathered wood and generally prepared for some bad weather that was expected the next day.

The weather was true to form and we were graced with rain shortly after breakfast. Undaunted the team donned waterproof clothing and set out for a day trip paddle that led us over a 400m portage and two more beaver dams by lunch. By this time the weather was really closing in and turned into sleet. After a quick bowl of soup and a couple of hearty wraps on a wet portage trail we made pace for home and crossed the 400m portage and the two tricky beaver dams. All credit is due to the group as this was a cold and miserable paddle, but no one complained. Nor did they complain about being sent to their sleeping bags with a hot cup of chocolate upon arrival! As supper was being cooked the sleet turned to snow, which Daniel Lim, (our Australian exchange student), was delighted to see! Fortunately as the evening drew on the rain stopped and by morning we were able to pack up in the dry and make speed for the bus that was picking us up at noon. It was a good three hour paddle that gave all the campers time to reflect on the challenge that they had encountered.

The weather is such a prominient part of every camping trip as it can affect every situation. As I often say, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”, and many of our campers will remember this trip to the edge of their comfort zone and be able to predict the equipment and clothing they will need to match what nature throws at them. It was a successful trip with some great memories and I am proud of all the tough campers that undertook the challenge.

This is a map of where the canoe trip took place:
















Written By Mr. Giles Campbell, Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator

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