It was a sunny, peaceful morning along the Red Deer River. The deer nibbled at the green growth along the riverbank, stopping occasionally to listen. Suddenly the peace was shattered, as the 6th Calgary Scout group, 17 strong, paddled their canoes around the bend of the river. With a flash of her tail, the deer turned and bolted for the nearby willows, waiting until the sound of their laughter followed them down the river, before slowly emerging again to resume her grazing.
This May the 6th Calgary Scouts challenged themselves to a weekend canoe trip down the Red Deer River. The scouts put many Tuesday evenings into planning their meals and work schedule; they have found that making a work schedule ahead of time really helps things at camp run smoothly. The group begged, borrowed and horse-traded for gear and participated in a paddle refresher course to make sure everyone was ready to face any challenges the river threw at them.
Friday night they loaded up 5 truckloads of food, gear, canoes and a lot of excited scouts and volunteers and headed up to set up their first camp in the Canadian Badlands. After a long drive, the tents went up, the marshmallows were eaten and the group headed to bed, eager to hit the river in the next day.
Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful and the group made fast work of breakfast and breaking camp. Canoes loaded, they hit the river. With a stop for lunch at the Dry Island buffalo jump, they paddled 28km down river to the Tolman bridge where they got to camp amongst the Hoodoos. Exhausted but happy the group enjoyed a meal and explored the area around their campsite before hitting their sleeping bags for a well deserved night’s sleep. Sunday came with 23 km left to go and a head wind that wanted to push them back up the river. Undaunted, the group dug their paddles in and made for their finish line at the Starland Recreation Area.
Before the first canoe was even loaded back on the truck, the scouts were planning their next canoe trip. The consensus was more time to explore and more nights along the river so the next time they plan to do more days of paddling but cover fewer kilometers each day. And of course, eat more marshmallows.