We just got home from our annual canoeing trip. It's always hard for me to come back to real life. 5 days of living in our swimsuits, paddling downstream, far from the ringing of phones and buzz of electronics.......ahhhhhhh, I miss it already.
Janey and I have been doing this trip with friends from California for four years now. Macy came once, and didn't love it, but this was Charley's first time. I was waiting until he was a very strong swimmer and could do his share of the camp work without major complaints. I am so glad we waited. he had the time of his life and really understood what was expected of him. He and I shared a small "pack" canoe, which was perfect for the two of us. He paddled when he felt like it and stretched out like an Egyptian prince when he didn't. On our last morning of paddling he even took a 2 hour nap in the bow!
One of my favorite parts of this trip is the focus on survival (relaxed survival, anyway). We paddle anywhere from 7 to 18 miles in a day and set up camp for one or two nights at a time. We share the camp chores of meal prep and clean up, hauling water, purifying water, latrine set up, and gathering firewood. This takes up a fair amount of our off river time, but the rest is gravy. Napping, reading, strumming a guitar, bird watching, waterfall jumping, hiking, or just sitting around the campfire and chatting. It's all just so slow and relaxed. Bliss.
Janey has spent the past few years paddling from the middle of a canoe. This year she graduated to bow and she did amazingly well. She takes direction from the stern well, knows all the strokes, and is strong for her age. I felt so proud of her. She's learning to read the water and although she has a healthy fear of whitewater, she doesn't panic, and knows she is capable of paddling through rough spots.
People on this trip often comment on how mature and responsible my kids are and are shocked to learn that they have never been to school. This trip has become a metaphor for unschooling for me. I had never canoed before that first trip four years ago. I learned it by doing it. I'm still learning. I usually dump the canoe a time or two, and each time, I figure out a new way of reading the water and anticipating tricky spots. Well meaning, more experienced paddlers have tried to explain and teach and educate me, but the only way I'm going to get this is by doing it myself.