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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Maine Canoe Symposium Announces Dates, Featured Talks

One of my favorite annual events, the Maine Canoe Symposium, has announced dates for this year: June 6-8. Featured speakers will be The Peake Brothers, and Rolf & Debra Kraiker.

The symposium is a 2.5-day event that includes multiple ongoing programs ranging from camp cooking to canoe poling. Many of the programs are on-the-water and to maintain a good instructor-participant ratio, the organizers post sign-up sheets just a few hours before they begin. This ensures that everyone has a good chance to get into most of the on-the-water programs that they wish, and it works very well. Other programs that are more presentation-style and less "practical" (as in, you don't practice the skills on the water) don't require sign-ups and are open to all. The featured speakers give presentations at night in a big, rustic assembly room, and the talks are invariably engaging.

Probably the best aspect of the symposium, however, is the strong sense of camaraderie among staff and participants -- probably around 200 souls all told every year. It's just so darn friendly, that even misanthropes like your humble blogger start to feel good, being around so many like-minded canoe enthusiasts. The level of instruction is mostly quite high. About the only criticism I can make is that the event is held on a large and lovely pond that offers no opportunity for instruction on moving water. That makes it difficult to teach and learn many canoeing skills.

The setting is Camp Winona, on Moose Pond in Bridgton, Maine (in the western part of the state) -- a boys' summer camp that has hosted the event for years, just before their summer camping season begins. Most symposium participants choose to rent platform tents, which are spacious and dry, but some choose to economise and pitch tents in the open field provided. Food in the cafeteria is spectacular.

For more details: http://www.mainecanoesymposium.org/

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