Journaling helps with the learning process
© Outward Bound/Justin Brewster

By Greg Stroud and Outward Bound participants

Outward Bound has been paddling the outer coast of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area for over 20 years challenging young people to reach deep into themselves as they face the full force of Lake Superior. These are their words, pictures, and stories from their latest trip in 2014.

Every spring I get a call from Justin Brewster the course director for the Voyageur Outward Bound School out of Ely, Minnesota, to discuss their annual kayaking trips to Lake Superior. They have been running kayaking experiences along the outer coast of the LSNMCA since the 1990s for both aspiring outdoor leaders and students. As a part of their expedition, they like to give back and help in some way to make the place better than when they found it. This year I asked Justin to get his students to complete a journal of stories, poems, drawings and inspirational thoughts they would like to share with other people about their experiences. It was amazing reading the journal and scanning through the images inspired by the lake. The following is a selection of the stories and thoughts shared by the students, all from the United States, ranging in age from 15 to 19 years.

Enjoying the view around a fire
© Outward Bound/Justin Brewster
“I have experienced many emotions on my very first kayak expedition here on Lake Superior. Those emotions have escalated from a feeling of despair as I struggle to finish our final mile of the day to a feeling of euphoria when I finally accomplished that goal. Although my emotions each day are unpredictable the one thing I know is that I am surrounded by the beauty that Lake Superior holds at every waking moment. I have seen sunsets painted across the sky in purple, orange and pink. I have seen water smooth as glass as well as waves high and intimidating. I have seen beautiful mountains both small and large as well as fog chasing us as we reach base camp. Additionally I have seen Lake Superior bring a small group of people together into a small family. Lake Superior has given me the opportunity not only to witness the beauty of the nature but also how it can create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.“ – Summer
“I have truly seen so much. Moose and bear tracks, rocky beaches and dense, wooded forests, beautiful sunsets, grey stormy skies and the list goes on. I am sitting crossed-legged on a rocky beach. Lake Superior tumbles gently onto the shore just in front of me, so close that I feel the occasional splash of water droplets on my sunburnt face. It’s about 3:00 P.M. island time and I feel the chilly breeze crawl up my skin as I gaze into the foggy expanse. It is almost as if the sea and the sky were one. A blended pallate of whites and greys, the lake textured with calming ripples and the sky as soft as a fluffy white pillow for a giant.“ – Breanna

A Haiku by Breanna
Textured sea, smooth, sky,
Palette of blues and greys.
Sea and sky are one.

“I have always wanted to major in biology because of my love for wildlife. Coming to this secluded part of Lake Superior has been the most amazing experience that has given me the opportunity to see so many amazing species. When kayaking I have seen birds like the common loon, the bald eagle, and my favorite, the hooded merganser. I’ve seen bunches of lichens which show how amazing the air quality is up here. It is so amazing to be living and exploring one of the prettiest, cleanest environments in the world.” – Gwendolyn
Outward Bound participants paddling in Lake Superior NMCA
© Outward Bound/Justin Brewster
“These Days it is so easy to be a consumer…to view things secondhand and see things through other’s eyes like Facebook or Instagram picture or retweeting a tweet. We can see amazing places like the LSNMCA on the internet or through social media but when you’re out actually experiencing it, exploring it, living it, it’s a whole new and different experience. There’s no barrier between you and the unspoiled, untouched natural wildlife around you. It is you, and the sun, and the sky, and the land, and the water. It is beautiful and there is nothing to interfere between you and that beauty. It’s yours to see firsthand and yours to appreciate and respect.” – John
“Lake Superior is tremendous and beautiful. I was told it has the world’s most clear water. I saw that become true when I was 40-50 feet from the bottom and I could see the bottom clearly. The sunsets are as remarkable as the sunrises.” – Bryan
“Paddling these waters have been unreal – the storms, fog, and ever-changing landscapes leave me unsure of what a “lake” really is.” – Myra
“My favorite memory from my expedition on Lake Superior would be the sunsets. Of course I could see sunsets back home any day, but the one’s I’ve seen over the water on my trip were breathtaking. A picture could not do them justice (although I took many). The pastel colors blended so smoothly over the mountains that they looked as if they were painted. The one thing I wish I could bring home with me would be those perfect sunsets on Lake Superior.” – Quinn

Outward bound began in 1941 and their simple philosophy, “there is more in you than you think” provides the guiding principle for all Outward Bound experiences. Where better to bring the best out in people, than in an area so rugged and beautiful as the LSNMCA.

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