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Canoe trip great for youth development

Teamwork is the name of the game when charting through Ontario waters or portaging through some of the province’s most beautiful parks. If you travel as part of a group, you pull together as a group. That’s one of the main messages that Elmira-based outdoor adventure company Paddles in Action is looking to expound as it launches its first canoe trip July 26.

JUST ADD WATER John Fleming, Andrea Hertel and Glenn Grainger will be leading a group of youths on a canoe trip to Killarney Provincial Park later this month. Paddles in Action is a new adventure company that combines teambuilding with outdoor fun.
JUST ADD WATER John Fleming, Andrea Hertel and Glenn Grainger will be leading a group of youths on a canoe trip to Killarney Provincial Park later this month. Paddles in Action is a new adventure company that combines teambuilding with outdoor fun.

“To do this kind of camping requires that level of commitment to teamwork,” said lead guide Glenn Grainger, the Elmira resident who owns Paddles in Action. “It’s all about communicating: communicating in a positive way and in a supportive way.”

Youngsters aged 14 to 17 looking to acquire some skills in canoeing and teambuilding will get a chance to do just that through the company’s BBOLD program.

Through the program, participants can earn certifications from the Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA) related to flat-water paddling skills and they also have an opportunity to earn lifesaving swimming certifications from the Lifesaving Society. Led by experienced outdoor leaders such as Grainger and his team partners John Fleming and Andrea Hertel, the youngsters will seek fun and adventure through canoeing and camping.

The youths will meet at the Adventure Guide store in Waterloo and from there head to Grundy Lake where they will spend the first five days of their trip acquiring flat-water canoe skills and bronze  level lifesaving skills.

Following those five days, the group will head toward Killarney Provincial Park for a 10-day canoe trip. There they will get a chance to put those skills in action.

In addition to learning outdoor sports skills, participants in the program will also undertake challenging teambuilding activities and learn about leadership and effective communication – all indispensible tools for a successful outdoor crew.

The idea is that campers will leave the program with a greater appreciation for nature, a greater understanding of Canadian Shield geography, and armed with proficiencies in teamwork and friendship.

“Setting up camp itself requires everyone to do something,” explained Fleming, a senior guide with Paddles in Action.

While having fun in the outdoors is a priority, so too does the natural environment provide the participants with a perfect classroom for learning valuable life skills in teambuilding and leadership training.

“[In] everything about that environment, you have to rely on other people, from cooking meals to getting across the portage,” Grainger said in an interview, noting that he developed an affinity for canoeing at a very young age when he and his three brothers would share a canoe.

“We always say that you’re not successful in getting across a portage trail until the entire team gets across it – until all the packs and all the equipment make it across. Inherent in tandem canoeing is a level of teamwork – you just need your partner to be able to navigate your canoe.”

Both Grainger and Fleming have plenty of experience in canoeing. But they also bring to the fold a long résumé of other skills. Grainger has his own teambuilding business, and both he and Fleming work for an agency that has offered several programs such as outdoor adventures for at-risk youths. They’ve also offered similar canoeing and teambuilding programs for businesses, school boards and non-profit organizations.

For more information, visit www.paddlesinaction.com.

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