As the snow begins to fall in the Twin Cities, we are thinking back to the warmer days of spring, when RHS students traveled to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). Students in various science classes, as well as members of the RHS Green Team, had the opportunity to travel to the BWCA and experience the rugged Minnesota wilderness.
“Beyond the BWCA, my ultimate goal is to instill a passion for sustainability in my students,” said RHS Science teacher and BWCA trip leader Matt Brown. “This trip puts them in the wilderness to show them what they are defending.”
Each year, the BWCA trip is supported by our community. On Give to the Max Day, consider donating to help fund this year’s trip. To view the BWCA fundraiser (and other RHS fundraisers), visit the Richfield High School GiveMN page.
“We greatly appreciate all of the support our donors have given us,” said Matt Brown. “This annual trip is often remembered as the ‘best high school memory’ by many of our past students.”
2023 Recap from RHS Science Teacher, Matt Brown:
To all our supporters, thank you. Another trip is in the books, one of the best ever! Here is my post-trip report. This year posed some interesting logistical challenges, centering on how to take 46 students on this trip. RPS does not have that many 10-passenger vans, and a big school bus was also a challenge, considering the shortage of drivers. We hired a bus charter, which was expensive, relatively, but had the advantage of keeping everyone and gear together for travel. RHS helped defray that increased cost, and certainly, your donation helped, too.
We departed the high school at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 24, traveling to Ely, where we first geared up two groups to send into the park that night. We couldn't get six group permits in the same place on the same day, so we split it up. The remaining four groups stayed the night at the Fall Lake campground. I'm sure we made far too much noise, but a good portion of our students had never camped before, and we worked on campground etiquette until everyone was sleeping. In the morning, May 25, those four groups launched, paddled across Fall Lake, and came to our first portage. It was uneventful, except we saw several fishermen with motorboats (it's a 25-hp zone). In the future, we will try to avoid these areas, because the motors disrupted the quiet, starting early in the morning. That afternoon, we portaged from Newton Lake to Pipestone, again uneventful, but the kids were starting to get tired.
We camped on Pipestone, but it was difficult to know exactly where all the groups ended up: it's a big lake! Six hours from the entry point, my group decided that we would camp Thursday night and Friday night on Pipestone, but move closer to the entry point on Saturday, so we didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to get back to the bus at noon Sunday. My group did some exploring around our island and by canoe on Friday and Saturday, some unsuccessful fishing, swimming, lots of laughing, and stargazing before sleep. Wow, the water was cold (40F-ish?), but the determined students spent some time immersed. Several of my group members were interested in cooking on the camp stoves and took over that task. They took turns washing dishes! The weather was gorgeous with lots of sun, a little cold in the mornings, but daytime highs in the 70s and 80s. We couldn't have asked for better. Mosquitos were out in force, but bug spray mitigated that. No biting flies. On the morning of May 28, we stayed on Newton Lake and only had one portage and about three miles of paddling to get back to the entry point. Other groups had either stayed on Pipestone, or on Fall Lake. All the groups arrived at the entry point within about an hour of each other, with the group from the Pipestone campsite having paddled and portaged since about 7 a.m. (oof).
After returning all of the gear to Spirit of the Wilderness, we invaded DQ in Ely. Students were polite but ravenous for something other than freeze-dried food. Back on the bus to Cloquet and Gordy's HiHat, where lots of fries and burgers were consumed. The last two hours were quiet on the bus while they slept off the late lunch. We arrived at about 6:30 p.m. at the RHS parking lot. It was fairly remarkable how quickly we unloaded the bus and dispersed, and I'm sure many were headed directly to a hot shower.
The thing that struck me the most was how the anticipation and a little anxiety (especially for camping/canoeing novices) turned into joy and laughter for so many. During the trip and after, I heard laughter and stories being told about the journey. There was a social media post rating the trip "10 out of 10" while waiting in line at Gordy's HiHat. I hope to run the trip again next year. The "high-class problem" of having so many students seems like it won't go away soon. For that, I am thankful because the reason we do this is to have students fall in love with the BWCA, and want to protect the wilderness everywhere it exists. Please consider another donation next year! Thank you again.