I just got back from winter camping at Wanakita YMCA camp in Haliburton. All the 7080 Rotary inbounds and outbounds got together to enjoy the Canadian winter. Everyone travelled on a bus together up to Wanakita and by the end of the bus ride you could tell everyone was getting pretty close. For the outbounds (like myself), it was the first time that we had met most of the inbounds and vice versa.
Once we got to the camp we were split up into our cabins, I was with girls from Canada, Japan, Germany, and Ecuador. We were then split up into two groups, one learned how to x-country ski and the other started on the quinzhees. I started with the quinzhee (snow hut, not quite an igloo) and we did a lot of digging, then piling, patting, more piling... oh and did I mention piling snow until it was 6 feet tall? After a awhile the groups switched, and I honestly cannot remember the last time I was x-country skiing, but it was a lot of fun. After dinner we were told that the quinzhees weren't tall enough yet, so everyone trekked over to the"quinzee field" to continue piling snow in the pitch dark. You weren't able to tell who anyone was in the dark it was too funny.
The next morning my group started with a snowshoe trek through the forest. We had fun jumping off rocks and taking some action shots. Then we headed back to the quinzhees where the other group had started to hollow out the inside. If your claustrophobic then starting to hollow out a quinzhee is not the right job for you. After finishing the quinzhees and going for a x-country ski all outbounds and inbounds were sent out on a candlelight solo sit out in the dark wilderness to write one of the 3 letters that we will be receiving a year from now while in our host country/back home. I enjoyed being alone, the quietness (except for some screaming children off in the abyss), and the time for reflection after meeting so many amazing people over the last two days. After having my bottom frozen from sitting in snow we had an outside campfire and then half of us got ready to sleep in the quinzhees. It was a long process to get organized in the quinzhee, but after getting into my two sleeping bags I was ready to have a good night with two Ecuadorians and a girl from Japan! I must admit, I slept amazingly! Every Canadian MUST try sleeping outside in a quinzhee once in their life!
On the third day we went out on a day long snowshoe trek/orienteering expedition. After getting the groove on using the compass, map, declination, and bearings we were off. My group was able to locate all of markers and drink our much rewarded hot chocolate. It was such a great feeling being able to work together and find our way through the "back-country." After a good hearty supper we had a dance party, I even attempted some Spanish-style dancing thanks to my Chilean friend, and then the second group was off to experience the night in the quinzhees.
On the last day we had to pack our stuff right after breakfast then we had the choice of breaking down the quinzhees or tobogganing. Call me old fashioned Canadian but there was no way I was missing out on tobogganing! It was so much fun, there were people who had never tobogganed before, and we made huge toboggan lines going down the hill.
Going home on the bus I thought for sure that I was going to pass out from exhaustion and lack of sleep, but for me it was the opposite. In just 4 short days all the inbounds and outbounds had become great friends, I couldn't sleep, not with so many different people to talk to, and different cultures to learn about!
The next big matter of business happens February 21st... what country will I be living in?