Kate, Canada

Hello everyone!
I hope you are all fit and well. I can’t believe that I have been calling camp home for well over 2 months already. Time is flying! We are now a staff team of 15, our family has grown! Everyone is getting on really well and having so much fun! Spring is definitely here; the past (busy!) several weeks have been up to 30 degrees and clear blue skies and the leaves have just come out! All the green is so alien! We are starting to see the northern lights on the odd occasion, which are supposed to be spectacular in summer. At the moment they are just faint white smudges, but they are there! Also we are starting to get lots of groups on site, we are currently having up to 5 different groups here at once! Camp wide games are a lot of fun, where everyone at camp joins in. Stones (a bit like capture the flags, but better!) is really intense and competitive, particularly among the staff, and we all get dressed up in crazy outfits!


2 weeks ago, Ridge and I decided to do a day trip to Jasper, as you do. We left at 8 and got back just after midnight, a good 600 km round car trip. Exploring the village itself was awesome, and the i-site (no-one knows what those are though) was really helpful. We decided to go for a hike along the river valley, and was told to carry bear spear as the bears are out at the moment. However, Ridge is also rather adventurous and we ended up eating our packed dinner on the top of Mt Morro, 1678m. It took us 3 hours to hike/rock climb (which was a little sketchy without ropes and harnesses, but I won’t go into details!). It was certainly a proper mountain! Everyone who was working was very jealous, but we made up for it by having a staff trip, including alumni to Jasper for the May 24 long weekend. So in other words, it was one big party!


Bones, Ridge and I went on a 30 km hike on the Saturday Night Lake Loop, camping overnight at Minnow Lake. Unfortunately, Bones and i forgot our utensils (rather, we were just saving on weight!) so we ate our pad thai dinner we cooked on the camp stove with twig chopsticks! Delicious! The freshly pumped water from the lake was so clean and yummy too! As we were hiking the last 100 metres back to the car, we saw a mamma grizzly and her cub! They must have been only 20 metres away, a little close for comfort! But we are still here to tell the tale of such an incredible experience, which is good news for us!


All the staff camped overnight in a beautiful meadow Sunday night though no-one got much sleep! Then on Monday, Ridge and I went on another hike. We were intending to do the Opal Hills loop, however, we got a little sidetracked and went straight up the mountain. It was extremely steep (I can certainly feel those calf muscles today!) and we made it up past the tree line, where we were hiking through waist-deep snow in some parts. We eventually ate lunch at 5 pm on top of the mountain with a spectacular panorama, which was well-earned!
I have finally hosted a group, (overlooking their entire stay, food, accommodation activities, etc.). It was certainly a bit a chaotic, (attempting to get nearly 50 people up a wooden pole in an hour and a half and trying to build a fire for their sausage roast which really didn’t want to stay lit was rather interesting. They were a great bunch of kids though, who were really competitive and loved the challenges we presented to them. They loved the high ropes course, which I lead by myself for the first time – I am now certified in our high rope course, after 3 days of training, so I can now facilitate high ropes from the high tower! Learning how to rescue and belay people down to the ground was a lot of fun and I feel so professional now! Also I am now a Paddle Alberta waterfront instructor, so I can take kids out on the water in canoes, kayaks and the voyageur canoe (although I haven’t quite got the steering sorted yet… ) Practicing rescues in water that had melted only 2 days earlier was a little chilly though. I lead my first group of kids canoeing last week, after being in a canoe for the first time less than a week earlier, and successfully fell in. Whoops. Thankfully, I bailed before I tipped the canoe, otherwise, I really would have been in trouble! It would be a little embarrassing teaching kids how to rescue the instructor, but at least the water had warmed up a little! The next two days, I am hosting another group. I am hoping that the strong wind we have at the moment will keep up so kayaking is cancelled – I want a little more practice on the water before trying to lead another session!

Anyway, love to you all,
(Kate Heaphy)