An Unforgettable Adventure

by Wendy Fougner

This past August I embarked on an adventure to the Arctic with 30 close relatives and friends to celebrate the 60th birthdays of my brother Bill and his good friend Sue. Bill and Sue wanted to celebrate the start of their 60th year in a momentous destination, and after deciding against Ireland, Scotland and a Caribbean Cruise, they settled on the Arctic. Our adventure to the Arctic included visiting Arctic Watch and a canoe trip from Déline to Tulita. Though the destination was absolutely spectacular, it was the group’s close family dynamic and the sense of camaraderie that developed among us that made this trip truly unforgettable.

It might seem rather daunting to travel with a group of 30, but the number of people was fantastic. The group was comprised of two generations, and most everyone had known one another since childhood. A few people on the trip were new to me, but the warm and friendly nature of the group meant that everyone got to know one another very quickly. The size of the group meant that there was always someone to talk to and the close dynamic of the group generated a lot of energy which made the experience really special.

At both Arctic Watch and on the canoe trip our group was quite secluded, so you only really had the people around you to communicate and spend time with. There was no cell phone reception and no access to internet, so you didn’t have the opportunity to get caught up in work or current events. We are so busy these days, and technology keeps us constantly connected to the outside world. When you’re cut off from technology, you’re forced to slow down and do things you wouldn’t necessarily do otherwise. This was important because it meant that we were really immersed in the environment and the people around us, rather than focusing on work or social media.

The active and adventurous structure of the trip really lent itself well to the group dynamic and enabled us to develop a sense of camaraderie throughout the trip. Each day was filled with activities which we participated in together as a team. On the canoe portion of our trip we worked together to unload canoes, unpack the food, pitch tents and make camp. Everyone was prepared to participate and contribute. This experience really gave credence to the phrase “many hands make quick work.” Everything we did on the trip, we did together as a team. We laughed and joked together, and when there were tribulations we worked through them together, building a sense of camaraderie and friendship. On the last night of our trip we enjoyed a wrap-up party at a restaurant in Whitehorse. The wrap-up party was the perfect way to reflect on the adventure we had shared and to celebrate Bill and Sue’s 60th birthday. 

If you’re planning your own large family adventure, make sure to start planning the trip early to avoid any disappointments. Make sure that you have a good understanding of what is needed for the trip, in terms of equipment, clothing and physical ability. Having a travel consultant who can organize the different facets of your trip and has an intimate knowledge of the destination is also very important. Lastly, a wrap-up party is a must. The wrap-up party was an integral part of our adventure as it pulled everything together at the end of the trip.

Simply put, the experience was phenomenal. The sense of camaraderie and togetherness that developed among our group and the close family dynamic was incredibly special and ultimately made the trip an unforgettable experience.