In the summer of 2005 I was 13 years old. I was about to leave home on my first canoe trip, which was also the first week I would be away from my parents. I was going on a canoe trip on Lake Temagami, and my friends and I were going to have to plan our whole trip, from the route we took across the lake, down to the really important stuff, like how many chocolate chips we could put in our gorp. We spent 4 days shaping our paddles, drying our food, and preparing meals that would keep for 8 days in our wanigans. We learned how to do a j-stroke, how to tie a tumpline, and how to read a compass and judge distance.
In the end, and after a couple of lousy weather days, we ended spending just shy of a fortnight on the water. It was the first time in my life that I'd felt like a real leader. We all took turns guiding the group for a whole day; setting a daily goal, taking compass bearings, choosing where to set up camp. Those days and nights on the waters of Temagami showed me what it was like to be a leader, and that is something I will never forget.