Most people say that if you are going to tell a story that you should start at the beginning. However, in our line of work we spend a lot of time starting with the end in mind and then working our way backwards from there. So, as I sit to write a Blog about this year’s Trailhead Program partnership with the University of Guelph, I am drawn to do the same. Endings after all are just really powerful new beginnings.
One of the things that I often tell students participating in our programs is that as the final day of their adventure approaches that there will be some moment, when they will “glance back over their shoulder” to take stock of all they have done and accomplished and that they will be truly amazed. Students often smile and take that comment in, perhaps thinking that it’s a nice idea or an interesting catch phrase, but on the final night of the expedition as we sit by the fire, there is no doubt that they all believe it.
It was Day 4 of our expedition in the interior of Algonquin Park. We had pushed hard to get off the beaten track and to escape the busier lakes and the tourist crowd. For our efforts, we found ourselves deep in the park. We had been rewarded with incredible wildlife encounters – including an unforgettable opportunity to drift by a moose in our canoes! We had incredible pastel sunsets and sunrises and the incredible satisfaction of knowing that it had been our own hard work and determination that had gotten us there.
Our group had worked hard and really pushed themselves to try new things. They portaged canoes, cooked on fires, camped in tents beneath the stars and learned to work with and trust one another while traveling some of Canada’s most beautiful landscapes. There was a lot of laughter, stories, great food and the opportunity to have a pause from the busy push of life and work, to dream about the future for a while in some stunning places.
As we set up our campsite for our final night together on a lake free from any other groups of adventurers, we excitedly re-capped all the incredible memories that people were going to be taking home with them. That night we baked fresh cinnamon buns over an open-fire then built up the fire to enjoy our final night on Moccasin Lake.
As we sat there in the glow of the fire-light, many of the students spoke about how the expedition had really drawn out their strengths in unexpected ways and had helped them to focus their sights on their futures. Others spoke about how important it had been to share such a fun adventure with new friends.
Trailhead Program graduates had this to say about their experience:
“The Trailhead program is one of the best pre-orientation events at the University of Guelph. I highly recommend you take part in this wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet fellow first year students, learn about the environment, how you can do better in university, and have some fun! Canoeing in picturesque Algonquin Park under the mentorship of Leaders of the Day was life changing. As a first year student I learned and laughed a lot as our trip unfolded. If I had the chance, I would definitely go again. If you love canoeing, camping, having fun, the outdoors, getting ahead in university, and portaging then this is for you! Well maybe you won’t like portaging the very first time, but I bet you will by the end of the trip; I know I did!” – Alexander Heinze, first year student at the University of Guelph
“Once again, thanks again for such an amazing experience, I truly feel like a changed person and like I’m ready for this next adventure in my life.” – Holly McEwan, first year student at the University of Guelph
It was a group of strangers that arrived for their adventure on the Trailhead Program with Leaders of the Day this summer, but it was a group of friends who shared the bus ride home! If you or someone you know will be enrolling at the University of Guelph as a new student this year, we invite you to be a part of the Trailhead Program experience. After all, the Trailhead is where all great adventures begin. Let us help you with the start of this one… You can register today by visiting the Trailhead Page at Leaders of the Day!