As the long awaited first day of camp approaches, our staff are wrapping up their training and preparation. While the staff this year have a breadth of experience at the helm, it’s still important to have a thorough refresher, brushing up on everything from safety protocols to the “art” of making sure all campers feel included in the program. But still, two weeks to do that?! Well, there’s more to it…

What is “pre-camp”?

Preparation has always consisted of a wide array of topics that include everything we could possibly encounter up here. Of course, that includes a healthy number of certifications, such as Redcross Wilderness First-Aid, Lifeguarding, and First-Aid/CPR. We certainly don’t dwell on the worst case scenarios during camp, but before? Well, it’s almost all we think about and prepare for. All of our staff must be fully prepared to head out on trips big and small, near and far.

Our training doesn’t just stop there though. We also go through training unique to Camp Voyageur, accumulated over decades of experience. We have our own T-rescues, counseling techniques, risk management procedures, and perhaps most importantly, a very unique (in a good way!) approach to having fun and safe wilderness trips.

What about the grunt work?!

Oh, I wasn’t going to forget mentioning our favorite part of pre-camp. Though we do like to keep the place rustic, it always needs a little grooming before each summer. Well… sometimes it needs more than a little. Fortunately, counselors eagerly take on projects around camp to make it functional and safe for the start of each season. This generally includes setting up the swim area, mowing all of the sports fields, and of course cleaning all of the cabins and facilities. You could eat off those cabin floors!

Veteran Counselor Alex Kvanli helps rebuild a cabin deck – Not a simple task!

There’s also something just satisfying about taking the initiative to leave your own mark on camp. Last year, a few counselors built a garden in front of the Mess Hall to provide the kitchen with fresh herbs and vegetables. This year, we had two veteran counselors rebuild a cabin deck (a lot trickier than it sounds with all those massive rocks!). As a matter of fact, if you go back far enough, almost every standing building, dock, field, and boat was someone’s summer project. If you’re looking for a model of effective community development, look no further than Camp Voyageur!

But don’t you ever have fun?!

Hah, of course we do! After the majority of the in camp preparation is completed, “counselor camp” begins (AKA: the staff trip). Although all but one of the counselors are all veterans of camp, the staff trip is a necessary opportunity to shake off the rust (and maybe a little weight, heh) after a long winter. It’s the culmination of our training, and a chance to put what we’ve learned into action.

Our trip consisted of two groups traveling for four days in the far eastern BWCAW – further East than most camp trips of the past. The route was a loop that began on Sawbill lake and finished at Baker Lake. We tried to look for Boundary Waters artifacts – remnants of the past that are generally located a bit off the beaten path. Part of the trip was the discovery of an old gold mine shaft from the late 1800’s with some equipment inside, not to mention a sheet of ice!

What’s on the agenda now?

We’re finishing up our training and debriefing. We’re already in the rhythm of camp life, and more than anything, we’re eager to introduce it to the many new faces we’ll have at camp this year. There’s also just something to that moment where you see a familiar face for the first time since last summer and realize they’re somehow an inch taller… Most of all I suppose, we’re just excited to greet our future cabin mates, travel companions, and sports teammates.

This post was written by veteran counselor Mike Running

Be sure to check out all of the photos from pre camp here: https://campvoyageur.smugmug.com/PreCamp-2017