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Into the wilderness we go

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Laying in the sunset

Laying in the sunset

Taylor Scherer

Taylor Scherer

Laying in the sunset

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A voyager is someone who goes on a long trip, especially if he travels on a ship. Historically, voyagers have often been explorers. A voyage is a long trip to a faraway land. Local man, Fred Rupp, named his avante garde program based on this definition 48 years ago.  

His program, Les Voyaguers, is for teens ranging from 10th grade to 12th grade in Minnesota. The kids go on a 28-day expedition into the Canadian wilderness to experience a trip of a lifetime. You have three months in advance to train for this trip. You learn how to flip canoes, portage them, paddle, use all the devices, pack packs, and learn safety procedures. Usually, the meetings are three hours long and then on the weekends, some meetings range  6-8 hours depending on what food you’re making or dehydrating.

Thomas Connolly, a Sartell High School student stated, “My favorite part about this trip was the cliff jumping in the Atik Bay, and going to 4th of July Falls.”

4th of July Falls is a fun place where you can camp, cook, hang out, and rest. You can jump into a rapid and swim down it and just cool off on a hot sunny day in Canada. It’s well traveled and many animals are spotted there. Atik Bay is also a very fun spot because you’re able to climb a big rock and then jump off it into deep waters.

Thomas responded to another question and said, “On Voyagers, I learned that everything in life is easier than the 2nd Ford Portage.”

The Ford Portages are a series s of portages that are very difficult and take some time to accomplish. They have a bunch of hills with rocks and when you’re carrying packs or the canoe it can be very challenging.

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I chose to do voyageurs because it would challenge me and make me a better person; I was introduced to the trip by Connor Schad. ”

— Thomas Connolly

Another student from Sartell High School, Danyelle Yoerg, also went on this trip and experienced many different things because every trip is a different experience. Danyelle stated, “ The most difficult part of the trip was having no communication to my family and friends.”

Being away from your family and friends is very difficult for 28 days. You don’t have any way to contact them and see what’s up with them or what they’re doing. These days we have our cell phones and social media to see what everyone is always doing so having no contact at all is very challenging.

Danyelle continued, “ Yes I would do it again!! It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.”

She learned many different things and she just had a blast. It’s something you will never forget about because it teaches you so much and shows you different things you have never learned or seen about yourself or the world before.

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On this trip one life lesson I learned was how to be patient and deal with what is in front of you.”

— Danyelle Yoerg

A retired teacher from Cathedral and the founder of the program, Fred Rupp, was interviewed as well. Fred explained what influenced him to start the program, “When I was in high school I received an award for the explorers’ program in New York and part of that award allowed me to join an expedition someplace in the world and I went on an expedition with National Geographic into some of the ice fields in Alaska. I was gone for about six months, and it was extremely difficult. None of my skills applied to mountaineering and I don’t mountaineer, don’t like altitude, don’t like heights, and I got very homesick. I struggled a lot.  When I got home I realized how much it affected who I was and what I had thought about things and my motivation for things. I then thought that is there a way I can do something like this with my skills set to make an experience like it for other kids.”

Fred really loves how this program came to be and that it has grown and had so many different things change and become bigger and better. He started on his own little adventure and then changed it into a way teens can go and experience and push themselves to the absolute max and change for the better. He loves what he has created and is proud that it is something no one forgets or regrets.

Fred was also asked about what he hopes the kids get out of the trip and he responded with, “ Every kid is different so every kid has different things that they grow. If some kids have skills and others don’t, you never really know. What I hope they get out of it is that life isn’t always about you, it’s about everybody else and that the best way to be successful is to give more than you take. If we worry about the other person and instead of just yourself, it creates a better foundation. It’s really the essence of Voyaguers.  The idea of the choker is that you take care of everybody else and if everyone is doing that, you’re taken care of as well.”

The main focus is that you put others before yourself, and it can truly change you in so many different ways that are good. You can discover stuff about yourself and you push yourself to the limit because if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

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I’m getting old and so part of the question is how to make Voyaguers survive after me. So we are in the process now of trying to explore that to see what it would take to actually do that.”

— Fred Rupp

 

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About the Contributor
Taylor Scherer, Journalist

Taylor is a senior at Sartell High School. This past summer, Taylor took a trip of a lifetime. She took a 28 day trip to Canada's Quetico wilderness.  It...

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Into the wilderness we go