Intro to Canoe Camping, Chain-O’-Lakes State Park, IN

Participants: Emma Castator, Marvin Pribble, Nick Fullenkamp, Paula Hartzer, Pam Thompson, Gloria Danielson and her granddaughter Kayla, John Carlson (co-leader) and Bob Hart (co-leader)

The purpose of the trip was to give campers some experience with canoe instruction and paddle skills practice and to experience the differences between canoe camping and backpacking. Due to tight
timing and canoe rental policy we only had 24 hours to accomplish our goals. All participants met in the overnight parking area and we checked with everyone on water-proofing their most critical gear items.

Once we checked out the canoes John Carlson gave some basic instruction on terminology, proper packing of the canoes, how to safely enter and disembark and demonstrated each of the basic
strokes – both for bow and stern positions. Then it was time to head to camp. The paddle from the canoe launch area was about two miles and we traversed through three small lakes and three sets of channels. We arrived at the remote “canoe camp” about 2:30 PM. All paddlers learned quickly.

The first order of business at camp was to select tent sites and pitch the tents. We were anticipating some overnight rain so care had to be
taken to stay out of holes and areas that might have heavy drainage. After that there were a series of demonstrations with some ”show and tell” discussions. Those included: SPOT safety signaling device usage, various footwear options, canoe lift and carry, proper overnight positioning of canoes, protecting food from critters (including bears), tarp erection and some general information.

Campers then had some free time before supper to enjoy the solitude of camp, go for a hike on nearby trails or to practice their newly learned paddle skills. Meanwhile a second tarp was erected “ just in case”. Supper was a group effort and then there was the traditional campfire with many “tall tales” about real wilderness paddle trips. We went to bed early anticipating some rain before daybreak.

Sure enough, rain did develop in the pre-dawn hours and that second tarp came in handy. Breakfast was prepared under acceptable conditions. We learned how to make an egg casserole in a zip lock bag which was a really neat idea. Shortly after breakfast the rain stopped so we packed up and paddled back to the launch area. The week end was declared successful and everyone received a handout to take home.