Jasper Gibson I Teenager, avid camper & overall adventure lover
Meet Jasper Gibson, a grade 12 student and outdoor enthusiast who credits her parents for fostering her love for the outdoors and igniting a passion to explore what Canada has to offer. For Jasper, canoe tripping was a regular family activity from a very young age, providing opportunities to learn about and appreciate the world around her. Exploring Canada’s north with just a boat, a paddle and a tent allowed her to experience the outdoors in a special, up close and personal way. But she is quick to mention that it’s not only about being immersed in nature. Thinking back on a mother-daughter group trek to the Haliburton Highlands over 10 years ago, she doesn’t recall details about the route or the scenery but remembers ‘the connections I made with the girls through our time outdoors’. That trip brought a small group of kids closer together and she’s still in contact with those friends today.
In addition to her family canoe tripping experience, Jasper has been fortunate to attend Camp Wanapitei in Temagami for the past nine years. Established back in 1931, Camp Wanapitei promotes self-reliance, cooperation and personal growth through community living, team work and challenging canoe trips in Canada’s north. Starting as a junior camper almost a decade ago, Jasper climbed the ranks to become a Voyageur, poised to set off on a 52 day canoe trip across the Yukon and Northwest Territories in June. This ambitious route will take the campers down hundreds of kilometers of flatwater and rapids, and across tracts of land on gruelling week long portages. In addition, the group of 12 campers and 2 leaders must carry everything they need on their backs as there are no food drops or rest stops along the way. But despite what may seem daunting to others, Jasper is up for the challenge and can’t wait for the summer to come.
The pandemic put a wrench into plans last year, cancelling a much anticipated month long James Bay adventure, but Jasper has her fingers double-crossed that the plans for this year will go ahead and she’ll be able to share an amazing experience with her close camp group before heading off to University.
When asked what camp Wanapitei means to her, the answer is simple…she is thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to learn how to live off the land, for the instant friendships forged through spending intense time together, and for experiences that make her push herself to the limit, allowing her to reap the rewards of hard work.
This past summer, Jasper and her best friend Chloe embarked on their first ever unchaperoned 5-day canoe trip. She shared with me that the girls really enjoyed the experience of having to make their own decisions concerning route, meals and daily itinerary. The time being secluded from the outside world was a welcome break from their normally busy and hectic lives and helped her feel relaxed. Although faced with tasks such as early morning pack ups, hard paddling and long portages (all while keeping a positive attitude!) Jasper embraced the challenges and pushed herself to work harder and improve her skills. Not surprisingly, by the end of the adventure she was overwhelmingly proud of their progress and solo adventure. The girls plan to continue to challenge themselves by tackling more difficult routes and paddling more challenging waters.
In addition to what Jasper has learned about herself, spending time in nature has heightened her senses to the importance of protecting our natural resources. She believes that at a young age, Canadians need to be informed about how our society operates, realize the problems we have caused, and work on finding solutions. She stands by the notion that protecting natural spaces is our shared responsibility, stating that “it’s our duty as citizens” to prevent pollution and overconsumption of resources.
Thankfully, Japser doesn’t want to keep her love for the outdoors to herself. “The thrilling feeling I get upon exploring new places and finding new adventures has taught me to invite and encourage others to do and feel the same.” She plans to expand her adventures to the east coast as she prepares for a move to Halifax to attend Dalhousie this fall. No doubt she will be able to round up some newfound friends to accompany her on camping trips in the Maritimes.
In the spirit of paying it forward, Japser has longer term plans to inspire her own children to spend time exploring the outdoors. But for now, she’s focused on the summer of 2021, hoping that nothing will get in the way of her planned adventure to the north. We have our fingers double-crossed for you Jasper!