I grew up camping, but I haven’t camped for a few years so when Father Kevin Manthey invited me on a camping trip to the Boundary Waters I was excited. My prior vacation plans were all cancelled due to COVID19 so I was eager for this opportunity. After asking my dad and brothers who have lots of Boundary Water experience for advice (and camping gear) I felt I had a very good idea of what was ahead of me. . .
The first week in July, a group of nine members from the Minnesota Emmanuel Community took a five day camping trip in the Boundary Waters. We accomplished some pretty amazing feats such as portaging everything that we needed to survive for the week on our backs for ¾ of a mile (uphill in hot and humid weather) and canoeing to our campsite with the threat of thunder storm at our backs.
Once we dried off and settled in we were able to take in the sights, the air, and the mosquitos. We spent our days swimming, relaxing, cooking, and playing games. We fished walleye, bass, and Northern. We had hatchet throwing contests, we skipped rocks and we learned how to properly swamp canoes and use a sling.
Despite the fact that we didn’t all know each other, it didn’t take long to feel as if we were camping with our family. We took turns cooking on our camp stove. There was a fire ban so we were unable to make a fire.
We ate wild blueberries and June berries, watched as a beaver swam right in front of us as we were fishing and searched for stars every cloudy night. We saw loons, deer, eagles, and turtles. We bled from the leeches, cried from the aloe (with menthol) in our eyes, and learned to ignore our weatherman, Tom.
As much as I enjoyed living a week without technology or COVID, the best part was being able to attend Mass and Adoration every day, at our campsite during sunset. It was an awesome experience to be with the Lord while surrounded by my newfound family in the woods. It was peaceful and I found myself able to hear God much easier than after a day at work at a nursing home during a pandemic.
I can’t speak for the others on this trip, but I think they’d agree with me when I say that this trip was a much needed vacation away from the world. Vacations are usually a time free from normal responsibilities and stresses, but they are spent away from home. This week I felt like I was home. I had everything I needed and then some. Thank you fellow campers!