The Happy Camper: A Father-Daughter Canoe Trip

Kevin Callan talks about the joys of a father-daughter canoe trip; and how his daughter has grown up in nature.

Credit: Kevin Callan

A heat wave, hordes of deer-flies and my dog eating human pooh were the only downfalls during my canoe trip with my daughter.

The weeklong paddle was her birthday gift. It’s what she asked for, turning 12. Kyla has been canoe-tripping since she was six months old and she’s adapted to carrying a heavy pack on the portage and paddling against a headwind. She’s also built up a repertoire of camp songs, jokes and stories to keep things fun out there. 

The biggest thing I noticed on our  recent trip was how Kyla has become so comfortable out there. She swims at every campsite, picking off the odd leech without a squeal. She catches frogs at every put-in and take-out of the portage, black ooze squeezing through her toes. Before dusk, Kyla always finds high-ground behind the campsite to write in her journal, with no worries of what lurks in the dark forest. To her, the pine and rock surrounding the site offer calm, not phobia. She sleeps through the night, only awakening to listen to loons, owls or wolves. Even when she heads back in the woods for her morning pee, Kyla no longer asks the dog to join her—even though the dog does.

A father couldn’t be so proud.

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