Beginning in college, most of my summers were spent working in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. First I was a counselor at Camp Northland, a private camp on Burntside Lake near Ely, Minnesota. It catered to rich Jewish girls from the Chicago area who spent all summer at camp. There I was also the riflery instructor, assistant waterfront director, the camp newspaper editor, and in charge of a cabin of girls. It was fun, but not really my style. One reason for my discontent was that whenever we took the girls on overnight canoe trips, we had to have a male “Trip Man” go with us. Grrrr. I stayed at that camp only the one summer.
The next year found me back at the North Dakota State Hospital, but this time working on the adolescent ward as an outdoor activities coordinator. Unfortunately, every time we had a trip planned (and usually it was a canoe trip), someone would threaten suicide or murder or worse, and our trips were cancelled. I stayed there but one year, also.
After graduating from St. Olaf in 1975, I secured a job at a YMCA camp near Ely. Camp Widjiwagan is a designated canoe-tripping camp, and was exactly what I wanted. I spent all summer as a trip leader, paddling every day, both in the BWCA and the Quetico, which is the Canadian version of the wilderness area. I really got to know the BWCA inside and out, and realized even then that it would be my dream-come-true if I could live there forever. But alas! I stayed at Widji only one summer, also. I was always looking for the next best thing.