The Wetfoot sat down with a group of guys in the Far North section from Last Resort I cabin—Alex, Evan, Jimmy, Joe, and their counselor, Pike, who were fresh off a weeklong adventure on the waterways of Vilas County. All four have been coming to Manito-wish for at least three years, some as many as five. Some had been together on previous trips, some were on trail together for the first time. They shared the wisdom of their years at Manito-wish.
You guys have been here for a long time. Do you remember what it was like to come to Camp your first year?
A couple of us came for just one week. Before going out on trail for the first time it was kind of a scary idea—especially the food. You don’t know if it’s going to be as good as Nash, and you think maybe there won’t be enough. But then we went and it was easy. It gave us enough perspective to want to go back the next year and be on trail even longer.
What’s different about being in Far North? Can you still learn new things when you’re the oldest guys in Camp?
You’ve done a lot of the stuff before but you learn to do it better, without as much help. Everybody cooked this year. One night we even turned a wet fire into a bonfire. Then Pike told us told us to settle it down, but it was still cool.
What was the most challenging thing for your trip this year?
You jump from a four- or five-day trip up to seven days. We had 13 portages on our trip, which was way more than any of us had done before. We also had a couple of times when some people were giving too much constructive criticism and it got on people’s nerves, but we got through it.
How did you get through it?
You have to support each other. On a portage you give somebody a bridge or keep telling them they can do it—whatever you can do to keep up their spirit. And when people aren’t getting along you have to talk it out.
What were you guys most successful at?
Cooking! Cooking for sure. The best things were the gado gado—and the pizzas—and the spaghetti was pretty good too.
Do any of you cook when you’re at home?
Yeah, sometimes. I made fried brownies, but they’re never as good as when you’re on trail. On trail you cook it yourself, you have to depend on the fire instead of the stove, you have to maintain a constant flame. It always tastes better on trail because you have to work for it.
What advice would you give to a Near South camper about to come to Camp for the first time?
Don’t worry, be happy! But seriously. Don’t be afraid. This is what we would say to each other on trail: “The body is always stronger than the mind thinks it is.” And remember that you have lots of people to lean on when you’re here. Trust your cabinmates. That's not just for Near South—you have that every year. You can talk to people here. I used to just bottle it up, but nobody is going to tease you or nag you at Camp. You can share it.
And what would you say to the next crop of Far North guys?
Be role models. You have to remember that everything you do can be a domino effect through camp and the younger guys. Be ready for a longer time on trail. Comedy is key! Enjoy every minute, make every chance count. You don’t have too many opportunities like this, so make the most of it!