A northwoods tradition and a skill all learn at Camp Olson.
Camp Olson's very first pioneer campers left behind a wood-burned paddle all the way back in 1954. This marked the beginning of a long tradition that has become a part of our living history. Over the years, canoeing has been an essential ingredient in the Camp Olson experience. The original cabins are all named for French Voyageurs, travelers who plotted fur trade routes across the northwoods by canoe long before Minnesota was even a state. We paddle on our five lakes on shorter overnight voyages every night of the summer. And we carry on a tradition of exploration and adventure in our trips program, sending canoe trips to the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park, and the Big Fork River.
Today, the paddle has become the token by which each of our trips leaves their mark on Camp Olson history. Names, dates, poems, inspiration, inside jokes, and beautiful artwork adorn each of these unique paddles. They speak to the journey each group has shared on the trail. A group who adventures together is forever bonded in that moment and the paddle helps us to remember. How many of us were changed during an experience like this? Traveling a great expanse of wilderness; working together with your fellow adventurers to survive and thrive; struggling through discomfort to discover strength you didn't know you had; and forging real bonds with people by witnessing the best and worst of each other. These are the moments that shine so brightly in our memories.
This beautiful paddle maps the struggles (9 beaver dams!), the group identity (check out their nicknames), and an experience none will soon forget. Down the road, they will return, maybe with their own kids, to remember these times and look fondly upon the special time they shared.