Camp Day 1: Arriving at Base Camp
The first day of On the Water Canoe Camp started bright in early at the Youth Odyssey office. After everyone said their goodbyes, we began our long journey to Caddo Lake State Park. After a long drive, there was only enough time to set up our camp and prepare for a nice meal. This was a great way to set the tone for what would be very memorable camp on the water. It’s never easy to get adjusted on the first day. Additionally with everyone having been inside for the majority of this hot summer, the adjustment was harder. However, we were not going to let the warm weather get the best of us. We encouraged a positive mindset, and everything was great. We ate, we relaxed, and then prepared for our first day on the water.
Day 2: First Day on the Water
The second day at camp was our first day on the water. As a result, we made sure to go over canoeing 101 lesson. It was a very informative day for the most part. We spent some time going over the terminology of the boat. Additionally, we discussed the many different strokes and commands we would used on the water the next few days. Above all, the best part of the day was watching all the campers execute their T-Rescues. Shortly after T-Rescues were done, we broke for lunch and enjoyed some refreshments. As we ate, we continued to discuss the importance of communicating on the water and looking out for one another. Lastly, after we finished eating we embarked on a short trail through Saw Mill Pond, and put everything to practice. Afterwards, it was clear the group was ready for the big trip tomorrow.
Camp Day 3: Lets go to Louisiana!
Our third day at camp was our second day on the water. Our goal was to make it across the Texas-Louisiana border while navigating through boat routes. In other words, this was the first big test for the squad. They picked up right where they left off, and were dominating the trails. However, we had an extra challenge today, the sun. The sun was bright and hot, making the trek a bit more challenging. Nonetheless, we came prepared! We had plenty of water to drink, food to eat, and a “champion” mentality. The big bad sun fought hard, but we fought harder!
Halfway through the trek we took a lunch break to regain back our strength. Afterwards, we began the second half of the journey. It took a just over three hours to finish the route across Caddo Lake. With the vast open and treacherous waters, it seemed much longer. When in fact we were actually moving fast! Due to all the youth doing a great job at encouraging each other and keeping each other motivated, we powered our way through the trail. When we finished our first big test it was time for a victory meal! Yet, the next day would be our biggest water trail yet. Thus, we needed to make sure everyone was both mentally and physically ready. We couldn’t celebrate too much yet!
Camp Day 4: The Long Trail
Day four. This was it, for all the marbles. We were ready to take on The Long Trial. Unfortunately, we had a late start to the day due to early morning thunder storms. To our benefit they cleared up eventually, and we will able to continue as planned. We put our canoes in at a local boat ramp, and began our trip up river. This route was nice in the fact it would bring us right back to base camp. In total we covered a little over 6 miles on this route, and navigated through a variety of streams and marshes. The group did a very good job staying together and maintaining a good pace. Additionally, due to the morning storms we had lurking clouds providing shade all day. It was nice to not be blistered by the sun as it was the day prior.
We stopped for a quick lunch, and refueled before we finished the last half of the trip. With such good progress being made, we figured we had some time to jump in the water and cool off a bit. It was very refreshing, and the youth had a lot of fun watching all the different boats make their way across the further side of the river. Nevertheless, we had to get back on the trial and finish it! By the end of the trail, everyone was almost completely out of energy. However, suddenly we saw a too familiar boat ramp appear as we came around the river bend. We made it! It could not have been a more perfect moment. After a quick break, we loaded the boats and made our way back to camp for a nice shower and some food. We were so proud of the group staying tough and persevering to complete their last canoe journey of camp!
Camp Day 5: Free Day
Our last full day at the park would be used to recuperate from a hard week of paddling around Caddo Lake and Caddo Lake State Park. So we slept in a little longer than normal, ate breakfast and gave the youth options to choose for the day. They decided to visit the park store first. Some of the youth bought small mementos to bring back with them, while others perused the learning exhibits located in a different parts of the store. The exhibits covered everything form the fauna located in the park, and the creation of Caddo Lake. Some even learned about the environmental impacts on the lake and its surroundings.
Afterwards, we went back to camp for some lunch. Hot dogs were on the menu, mostly for a little fun and a quick meal. After lunch, we split up into two different groups. One group that would go swimming, and another group that would hike a small trail around the park to get a better look at was was behind the tall walls of timber that stood to either side of the roads. After both groups reunited at camp, we came together for our last meal of the camp. The next day would be spent driving back home to Corpus Christi.
Camp Day 6: Coming Home
The next day we were up and moving before sunrise, getting ready to make our way back home. It was bitter sweet moment as we cleaned up the area we called home for the last week. However, it was time to head back. Everyone on this trip did an amazing job from start to finish. Memories were made, skills were learned, but most importantly lives were changed. The summer is our busiest time of the year here at Youth Odyssey. Though, we love it because that means we can reach many more youth in the area. This trip will wrap up our summer, but not our year. School will be starting soon, and that means school programs are right around the corner. Check our calendar to see where we will be near you this fall.