Pathfinder News & Notes

ACF Bluegrass Benefit 
April 14, 2018 @ 7pm

The Algonquin Campership Fund has teamed together with Three Heads Brewing in Rochester, NY and Vermont based bluegrass sensation The Green Mountain Boys to bring you a night of craft beers and live music -- all benefitting the ACF! Camp Pathfinder alumni Tom Bryce and Rob Strasenburgh (guitar/bass & vocals) are excited to rally their group to raise money so more kids have the magical experience of summer camp. Come on out for a great night and a gathering of friends! Camp people and paddlers from Buffalo, Vermont, Toronto, Rochester, and all over the Northeast will be there! You don't wanna miss it! Suggested donation cover of $20 at the door. Family-Friendly, no cover for 15 yrs. and under. "Smokin' Hot Chicks BBQ" food truck will be on location! Band T-shirts available for only $12! 50/50 Raffle. All event proceeds benefit the ACF.  

Over the past 18 years, ACF has funded Rochester and Buffalo city school groups to have experiential learning in Algonquin Park, and provided aid to dozens of summer campers, who have had gone on to do amazing things and have great camp careers! 100% of gifts to ACF go directly to benefit the kids.  
To RSVP and get your name on the door list, contact or call (585) 249-0716.

A Look Back at the 104th Summer
Tent camping

What a Year!
Pathfinder 2017 welcomed 250 boys for sessions from one-week to 7-weeks. Our guys hailed from far-away China, Australia, Spain, France and Mexico as well as 14 US states and 4 Canadian provinces.
A Pathfinder staff - over 70 strong this season - spent much of June in a variety of training and enrichment experiences, including the second biennial "Spruce Root," our chautauqua on wilderness leadership. Routine lifesaving, wilderness medical and whitewater training followed.
Our trip staff and DOTs conducted 71 canoe trips all over Ontario and Quebec, ranging from 2- to 40-days in country as varied as our gorgeous Algonquin back yard to distant Nunavik and Hudson Bay waters.
A record 12 schools and family groups enjoyed Pathfinder outdoor education experiences during spring and fall. Camp also hosted 10 refugee boys recently arrived in Canada, having escaped the devastating war in Syria. A documentary film about their experience at camp was shot by Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple. Late in the summer, Camp welcomed boys and girls from the indigenous Cree communities of Ft. Albany and Kashechewan on James Bay. They joined Pathfinder and Camp Wabun trippers for a canoe trip collaboration. Pathfinder was proud to host this event as part of a truth and reconciliation movement in our province. Stay tuned for more outreach during the Summer of 2018.

See the 2017 Trip Postings ...

Photo Albums 2017 ...
   Camper Headshots
   Sleepage Photos
   Trip Portraits
Pathfinder Daily Life Candids 2017 ...

Pathfinder's Staff 2017 ...

Trip Films 2017
   Nastapoka River (AA) ...
   Great Whale River (AA) ...
   Missinaibi River (Otts) ...

Welcoming Syrian Boys to Pathfinder 2017

Recap 2017
Happy to report that this new experience was very positive, both for the families and boys involved, and for the entire Pathfinder community. The First Half visiting day saw three-dozen kids, parents, sponsors and translators arrive at the Car Dock on a chartered coach. They paddled war canoes to the island, toured, swam, ate lunch and dinner, and generally got aquainted with our island home. Later on when our campers arrived for Second Half, they were already comfortable with surroundings. We can't say enough about the welcome given these boys by our campers and staff - really wonderful. As ever, the canoe trips were the most powerful experience for the boys. It was also great to see them strive and excel at swimming or canoeing in-camp. One boy won his AA in canoeing, and was recognized in the Dining Hall by a visiting Pathfinder parent who himself is a national champion paddler and rower. An overlay to all of this was the presence of an independent five-member film crew, shooting everything toward a feature-length documentary. With luck the message will travel beyond Pathfinder Island, that there are people-to-people approaches which overcome politics and prejudices. Stay tuned for an announcement of the film's debut in Toronto this spring. We'll be repeating our program for Summer 2018! (sladds)

Syrian boys who are refugees from the war in Syria are coming to CPI. Glenn and Sladds are hosting them as guests without any fees. There will be 5 boys in Session C and 5 boys in Session D. They are mostly ages 11-14, with one boy an age 8 Mic Mac, and one boy an age 15 Ottawa. Their families have arrived in Canada within the past 6 to 12 months.

Currently these families are living in the Toronto area, assisted in starting a new life here either by private family sponsor teams, or by non-profits which provide similar close support for one year.

Pathfinder supports Canada’s embrace of Syrian families tormented by the 7-year Syrian conflict, which has already claimed over 300,000 lives, so many of them women and children. For the families who have reached Canada, there is safety at last, but of course a challenging experience ahead as they work to build a new life.  For Syrian kids, summer can be a time to forge their own new paths and see new horizons, to try out the Canadian tradition of summer camp, to make great friends, immerse in English, and hopefully let many stresses and anxieties fall away.

We believe that welcoming these boys will also be an extremely positive experience for all of us staff and campers who already love and thrive at Camp Pathfinder.

Early Efforts
Sladds began a search over the off-season to meet sponsor families and agency staff. Toronto meetings were held with Syrian families and their sponsors.  Sponsor parents, a doctor running a Syrian health clinic, two Arabic translators, and advisors from the Syrian community became partners with Pathfinder. After sharing details of camp life and referring some campers to other opportunities, ten boys from six families were invited to attend Pathfinder.

A Pathfinder Welcome
Most important is the way we welcome these boys, all of us as Campers, Staff and Alumni of Pathfinder.
What are some accommodations Pathfinder can make to ease the boys’ arrival at camp?

- camp will have a fulltime Arabic translator counselor in residence
- a Halal menu will be available
- support to increase swimming experience
- a safe and quiet space for observant Muslims to pray each day
- thoughtful sleepage pairing of campers with peers and staff

Pathfinder is organizing a visiting day in July for all the Syrian families and their sponsors, to come from the city and enjoy a day of Pathfinder fun with the whole crowd at camp. The adults will certainly want to see where the boys will be going in August, and we’re sure these new campers themselves will feel more comfortable discovering Pathfinder for the first time with their parents along.

Will You Join the Welcome?
If you would like to join in the effort to make a great summer experience for these boys, please get in touch. We could use some help in camp bus transportation and gathering some camp gear for our newest Pathfinder campers.

1. If you can send a gently used rain jacket, headlamp, paddling vest, fleece or sleeping bag ... check with us for sizes.

2. Or, if you would like to send a MEC or Algonquin Outfitters gift card .... these will also help us get our guys outfitted properly.

3. If you want to support their camp bus trip to and from Pathfinder with a small contribution, get in touch.

Other ideas? Just contact Sladds to learn more. We are happy to shoulder costs, but a little CPI family help is always awesome.

Thanks in advance for joining in this effort in support of your Camp and some more great new Pathfinder campers.

sladds & glenn 

Spruce Root 2017

A Chautauqua for Pathfinder Headmen


Over the last 15 years, Pathfinder staff training has branched out quite a bit, from certification courses in wilderness medicine and paddling, to include visits from psychologists, scientists, cartographers and trip guides. An idea bounced around for awhile, that a June conference could gather lots of top minds and give headmen a useful cerebral jump start to their leadership season ahead.

Thus, the biennial headmen’s gathering “Spruce Root” began in 2015 as a chautauqua, an informal June Crew gathering of experts in fields related to our world of wilderness canoe tripping. See our roster of guests below.

Eighteen presenters from many walks of life gave TedX talks and workshops to two dozen active headmen. A dozen alumni trip staff joined the headmen and guests in this experience. The word went out that this was an event not to be missed, and more alumni were on hand this season for "Spruce Root 2018".

Some alumni visitors were also presenters, as with Sandy Gage, Mark Eustis, Corot Reason this year, and Rich Swift and Chris Brackley in 2015. Sandy is pictured at right, talking about fishing and history in Algonquin Park.

During the off-years, 2014 and 2016, a few presenters came to the island for small-group field workshops. These were also highly effective, and preserved the energy of the Spruce Root concept. Now we're back to the large Spruce Root format for June 2017. This year’s topics for the big gathering of panels, cocktail dinners, keynotes and workshops include:

Canoe guiding for joy moments:professional route planning -- Boys’ development and concepts of masculinity -- Film technique and concept for capturing the human experience of tripping -- Literature revealing the histories of Algonquin and the DuMoine country -- Climate challenges and the life of Dickson and Lavielle Lakes -- A pediatrician's view of non-emergent health care of children on trip --  Traditional canoe travel ethics and practices -- Positive leadership of boys in outdoor settings -- Building better trippers through the in-camp program - and more.

An added feature of this year’s Spruce Root was two advance events. A group of May staff had an exciting field workshop with a private behind the scenes tour of the collections of the Canadian Canoe Museum hosted by curator Jeremy Ward.


Spruce Root 2017
‘Professional Practice of the Headman’

Presented by
Camp Pathfinder Staff Training Program & The Centennial Fund 
Pathfinder Island  June 16 - 18, 2017
Mike Sladden, camp director
Dr. John Herman, alumnus

Chautauqua, noun ‘she-to-kwa’

Describes an adult education movement popular in rural America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Named for the western New York lake where it was first held and continues today at the Chautauqua Institute. Notable presenters in culture, arts, philosophy, education, sciences, religion and humanities assembled at Chautauquas across North America. Teddy Roosevelt said Chautauquas were the ‘most American thing about America.'

Pre-Conference Events

The Canadian Canoe Museum - A Behind the Scenes Tour for the Headmen
Hosted by curator Jeremy Ward, in Peterborough, ON

'Map and Mind' - A Headman’s practical workshop with topo maps
Hosted by cartographer Jeff McMurtrie, at CPI

June 16 - 18 Spruce Root Presenters

Dr. Christopher Thurber, psychologist and instructor
Phillips Exeter Academy

Prof. Robert Henderson, outdoor studies
McMaster University (ret)

Paul Errickson, outdoor educator / head of middle school
Nichols School, Buffalo

Linda Leckie, Algonquin guide/ COEO/ department head (ret)
Outdoor education, Bishop Strachan School, Toronto

Sandy Gage, alumnus

Wally Schaber, founder and author
Black Feather / Trailhead Outfitters
“Last of the Wild Rivers” - a history of the Dumoine Watershed

Dr. Julia Orkin, Pathfinder camp physician
Chief of Chronic Illness, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Allison Lake, biologist
Algonquin Park Staff

Corot Reason, alumnus
systems auditor, Symcor, Inc, Toronto

Mark Eustis, alumnus
geospatial technologist, Grey Owl Analytics, LLC

Matt Thompson, canoe guide
Wilderness Canoe, Knoydart Scotland

Gord Baker, manager
Algonquin Outfitters, Oxtongue Lake

Dr. Aaron Orkin, Pathfinder camp physician
Emergency Dept., Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto



The Annual Pathfinder Poster
Old map

See Pathfinder's annual posters, since 2009 ... 2009-2017

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