For a week in July, a group of young East African women experienced the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for the first time, during a four-night, five-day canoe trip. The young women paddled 39 miles, and carried 80-pound canoes on their shoulders and 50-pound packs on their backs.
The trip was hosted by Sisterhood Boutique, a gently used clothing store in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis that doubles as a youth program. Its mission is to support East African young women through mentorship, job training, and leadership development opportunities, including this third annual trip to the Boundary Waters.
The expeditions are meant to introduce youth to the outdoors and to teach them how to be independent in the wilderness. Youth learn technical skills — such as how to set up a tent, purify water, cook and clean outside, and how to paddle a canoe — while enhancing their communication and leadership skills, and pushing themselves to new limits.
“The thing I’ll miss the most is seeing the stars at night, because in the city you only see like one star and then it ends up being a plane or something.”
— Ikran, 16
“I never used to enjoy nature. I always used to ignore it and stay in my house. But now I learned the real meaning of being outdoors. Being strong is not about your muscle. If the strength is not coming from your heart, then you don’t mean it.”
— Sara, 13
“I learned about my endurance. Perseverance. I thought I was going to give up the second day. I made it!”
— Hibbo, 13
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