|The International Fellowship of Canoeing Rotarians has many meanings to each individual member. It may be to improve one’s health; out exercising one’s upper body with the paddling, one’s lower body, carrying the canoes and everything including the kitchen sink of one’s colleague who didn’t pack lightly, over a one kilometer or mile long portage. It may be learning new skills, of how to pitch a tent, following instructions that might be easy for Leonardo, but difficult in the dark mosquito infested night.It may be learning about nature, of how a large racoon can eat into one’s backpack and carry away one’s food for the next day. It may be learning about tricks of how to avoid such predicaments by hanging food bags in trees, or in a canoe anchored off shore in a lake. It may be improving the environment, cleaning up a river from garbage carelessly left by others not in tune with the interdependent web of life. It may be learning about the history of historical rivers, explored by cour des bois, “runners of the woods”, fur trappers, adventurers from years before. It may to others be learning geography of new lands in the far north, or rivers, or lakes far from home.
Trips like this helps a person discover a lot about self and others around them. This gives a person a lot of time to introspect and analyze their own behavior, needs and thoughts.
This also gives them a chance to be up close and personal with nature rather than travel in their swanky cars and fly around the world in planes. When they are cleaning the area around them or in the river, they become aware of what are the wastes that get clogged and what passes of gets processed in the soil. This helps them create awareness among their friends and family. Even if a member does not tell the world around him about such wastes, telling his family is enough. Even a small change can impact nature in big way.
When they learn to camp and build a fire, they are learning life saving skills. One may argue, they may never require such skills, but it never hurts to know something different from others. Cooking over a campfire is definitely different from cooking over the glass top stove back home. One will have to suffice with water and the tea they make over this fire. They will have to give up their daily dosage of Eco Slim. But they will be losing weigh even faster with all these physically taxing activities and the best part is, they won’t realize it until they get on that weighing scale and read the numbers. Being physically active combined with a cup of the drink can speed up the weight losing process and give you good results in no time.
It may be learning about one’s self, and building self confidence. It may be writing up the adventure, reading about others, writing a poem,….literature. But above all, it is fellowship, of enjoying each others company, of learning what other Rotarian clubs are doing to make the world a better place.
The IFCR began many years ago, in about 1991 by PRID John Eberhard of the R/C of London, Canada, Chip Honsinger and others who formed an international group that paddled Quetico Lake in Northwestern Ontario. From there, another group, led by Ross Ventreck paddled the lakes and rivers of Northern Ontario, attracting other Rotarians. Then came other people who joined and invited others to paddle the Thelon River and other historical rivers in Canada, sometimes in historical large canoes holding many people. Others in the States and Australia wrote about their adventures.
Ross or John added the Canadian Canoe and Kayak magazine “Kanawa” subscription to the annual membership dues. Ross kept the money coming in as treasurer and a list of all members. We now move forward with a new President and executive and look ahead to more great paddling together, enjoying each others fellowship.