As I write this with sore feet, my first impressions of the wayfarer program, the Italians and the Canadian wayfarers as a group is molto bene. Excuse me for the Italian, but learning about the wayfarer program from our Italian brothers carries more than just program knowledge, but also, a little bit of culture, enthusiasm, and comradery.
The wayfarer program is all about "the road", community and service connected by spirituality which gives everything meaning and substance. In this case our road was the physical hiking path and mental path though our doubts. Service was shown by both the Italians and Canadians in the caring way we helped each other, supporting each other in our weaker moments, spending days preparing food and trip planning, and cooking for each other. Community was heart felt in the service, songs, campfires and friendships forged in the hike. Finally, the spirituality was soaked throughout, not just in our masses, but in our everyday activities. We have lived a part of the wayfarer life together and it was a great introduction.
After 2 portages, 8 cold nights, 14km canoeing and 109.6km hiking we past our limits and grew stronger, more confident and more true to ourselves. We also gained new friends, knowledge and experience. It was a true exchange of culture and expertise where the Italians provided the program and wayfarer experience and the Canadians organized the food,canoeing expertise and logistics.
Here are some comments from our wayfarers:
"This camp really has to be one of the most challenging things I've ever done. I had physical difficulties, and also emotional difficulties as well. Especially being sick in second day, and having no proper rain gear on the 3rd day plummeted my moral to continue on. This lead to deciding that I really wanted to go back home with Manatee on the 3rd day. However, I really had a battle with my emotional self, telling myself that the first three days are the hardest ones, days will be easier as they go by, my parents would be disappointed, and I would never forgive myself for giving up. After completing the camp, looking back, I have gained tremendous amount of knowledge in camping, spirituality, and rovering. Camping from everyone, Spirituality from Father Fabio and Frederico, and Rovering from Paulo and the Italian Rovers. Overall, through all the hardships and challenges the trip, I have learned a lot more and built courage for the next challenge." - Dennis
"For me, the significant moment was on the noon of the third day, just as the rain cleared up and we emerged from the trail to Manatee waiting by his car with lunch set up. It had been raining all throughout the day and we were still exhausted from the night before, hiking til just past dawn. It was the first repose after a (surprisingly) difficult start; I had been hungry enough to lick the salt off the sweat of my skin (something I thought I'd never do...), people were slipping off rainslick planks left and right, exhaustion and discomfort abound...
...but it wouldn't have felt as rewarding to hike through Algonquin without a single rainy day, a difficult hike, some pain, some feeling of despair. Knowing I was not alone in this endeavor, that was the clincher for me. Gabrielle helping me up after slipping on a rock by the creek, Leonardo trading packs with Lynx, Giovanni encouraging a VERY discouraged Justin, countless other acts of service to one another; everything came together that noon, just as we emerged from the bush. It was no longer just a hike, it was an experience meant to be experienced with fellow Rovers and Wayfarers; the mythical 'road'. That feeling continued all throughout my hike in Algonquin; the amazing campfire led by Loris & Francesco, Paolo performing guitar for mass, playing oh sacred head now wounded with the Father 'Fabulous' Fabio, celebrating mass in the thick of the wood (which I would never have thought possible..), standing witness to Marco's signing of the Roma 12 clan carta, canoeing and singing together...
The sunny white-sand lagoon of Maggie east, watching the sunset at Maple leaf lake, resting in the autumn chill by Weed lake, waking up to the gorgeous view at Tern lake, as breathtaking as they were...they were simply the cherry on top." - Paul
"At the beginning of the trip I was excited but skeptic as to whether or not I was ready. I was told that the first few days were the toughest because your body is still adjusting. This was true because up until Wednesday I was exhausted and sore and just wanted to go home. It was raining on Wednesday and we were to meet Manatee at the access point for a food drop off. I was convinced that I needed to go home. Giovanni and Leonardo told me I could finish the hike despite my knee injury. I was worried about my knee but thankfully it was fine throughout the whole trip. They both had joint problems and were still some of the strongest people there, so my knee problem was not an excuse. When I made it to the access point I asked Manatee if he could take me home. After saying no he told me that once this trip was over I would be grateful for finishing it. I knew he was right so I dismissed any thought of going home. By Thursday my body had finally adjusted to the bag weight, and from that point on, walking felt easier. I began to truly enjoy the trip, especially when we reached Maggie Lake and had a whole day to rest ("just lax"-Paul Kim). Small things like clean clothes and warm food were great "pick me ups" that helped me continue each day. Overall the trip was a good experience for me, and thank you to everyone that helped make the trip an amazing one." - Justin