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Our adventure took us just outside of Duluth, Minnesota where we tested our limits while kayaking on the upper St. Louis River. We had 9 participants on the trip and almost all of them had some sort of kayaking experience, either through FD’s core programs or through a desire to carry on the Out Living It spirit. After eating dinner in our lovely home for the weekend, our Friday evening campfire was focused on how we approach the struggles in our lives. We discussed remaining present throughout our struggles despite the temptation to focus on escaping or avoiding them. Little did we know that we would have the opportunity to put this idea into practice the very next day. Saturday morning greeted us with a sky full of clouds and a persistent rain falling through the air. Struggling through the weather and our own limits would be our true challenge for the day. While the rapids on the river would challenge our knowledge of kayaking, the weather and the unknown would challenge our knowledge of ourselves. Although there was no indication that the weather would break, our spirits were high and we would not let the conditions break our spirit. After grabbing our gear and a quick kayaking review form our outfitters, Swiftwater Adventures, we decided to take the river and the rain head on without delay. As we adjusted to our kayaks, as well as the conditions, we reminded ourselves not to be distracted by thoughts of the warm house that awaited us at the end, or even how delicious dinner would be that night (yes, I can also cook, and yes it is delicious). Instead we focused on the moment at hand and the rapids that lay before us. As the rain fell incessantly and the water rushed beneath us, we took on each rapid with increasing courage and enthusiasm. With a clear mind and the support of those around us, everyone absolutely crushed it on the river! After a brief scout of the largest rapid on our trip, the Electric Ledge, many of the participants courageously chose to leave this obstacle for another day and cheer on the few that chose to take it on. Everyone tested their limits on the river and chose to use this struggle as a means to find strength and joy, instead of frustration and disappointment. I even had my own share of struggles like trying to draw the FD logo by hand for the first time, sweeping up boats after some brief swims on the river, or trying to master the industrial size stove in the kitchen. Despite the struggles, this group definitely showed up ready to keep the Out Living It spirit alive and keep the FD vibes flowing far beyond our weekend together. As is the case in many FD adventures, the weekend was an amazing experience with an amazing group of people!
Written by: Mike ‘Hustler’ Burek, Lead Staff