Ella Moorse portages to the next lake at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. 
Several members of the group pose around the campfire at their site. Left to right: Lydia Coequyt, Kylee Loyson, Sam Frie, Evan Hennen (sitting on ground), Eli Gruenes, Mark Rabaey, Natalie Bot, Carmen Broers, Ella Moorse.Canoeing was a big part of the trip. Front canoe, left to right: Evan Hennen, Sam Frie, Eli Gruenes. Back canoe, Carmen Broers, Ella Moorse. Mark Rabaey tries his hand at cooking on a campfire. Kylee Loyson shows off the pan of hashbrowns and bacon she made one morning over a campfire.

Local group embarks on rewarding trip to BWCA

Students reflect on life, God during annual trek

Eight students and four chaperones from St. Edward's Church in Minneota recently embarked on a five-day pilgrimage to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in northern Minnesota.
Dawn Vlaminck organizes a trip like this each year to allow the students to get away from their busy lives and focus on fun and religion. This trip was from Wednesday, June 8 to Sunday, June 12.
"The theme of this year's trip was to experience the wildness of the boundary waters as a sacred space," Vlaminck said. "Sometimes it is helpful to leave the busyness of our everyday lives behind and just soak the silence and the beauty that we find in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It's in this silence that we are able to have a true conversation with God and clearly hear his voice."
The eight students who took advantage of the trip were Carmen Broers, Lydia Coequyt, Sam Frie, Eli Gruenes, Evan Hennen, Kylee Loyson, Ella Moorse and Mark Rabaey. Chaperones included Vlaminck, Natalie Bot, Nolan Meyer and Jim Vlaminck.
"The best part was just being able to be outside with others and trying new things," said Loyson, who will be a sophomore this fall. "The portaging was probably the hardest, but we learned that we were able to get a lot more done with teamwork. I'm very glad I went."
The group traveled to the BWCA and set out on trails on Wednesday (June 8). They entered at Round Lake and camped the first evening on Snipe Lake.
Snipe Lake is a loop that takes several days to complete. There are six portages and excellent fishing for walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass.
The group then set up their base camp on Long Island Lake on Thursday, June 9, before taking a day trip to Frost Lake on Friday."We had lunch, played on the beach and took a nap in the sun (at Frost Lake)," Vlaminck told. "On Saturday, we came off trail an enjoyed our first showers in four days."
The final day of the trip, the group had a French toast breakfast at the Tuscarora Lodge before traveling to Duluth to attend Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary.
"We then had lunch at Grandma's Restaurant before proceeding home," Vlaminck said.
Grandma's Restaurant, which opened in 1976, has become a favorite tourist spot and widely known for homemade Italian and American food.
Among the other highlights for the group was making a homemade campfire pizza, ideal weather for canoeing, and evening campfires that included hot chocolate.
"The negatives were the mosquitoes," Vlaminck revealed.
"The most memorable for me was the 15-minute prayer time we had by ourselves," Loyson said. "It was nice to look around and see everything that God has created. It was so pretty up there."
Vlaminck is always impressed at how well the kids adapt to the "teamwork" these types of trips require and how well they get along.
"Every year, it is so nice to get to know the kids better," she said. "Friendships are made and existing friendships are deepened. The importance of teamwork becomes apparent. The kids are always surprised at the hard work necessary to navigate the boundary water, but I am so proud at how well they do. They are stronger than they think."

The scenery was spectacular during their trip. Contributed photo

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