Welcome to Les Voyageurs! Are you ready for adventure?
Les Voyageurs takes place at our own poste on Turtle River Lake near Bemidji, Minn. There, you will take time to develop skills needed to become a voyageur. You will find the life of a voyageur to be a busy and challenging one. Throughout the stay, you will concentrate on four main tasks of equal importance: speaking French, living in nature, building a community and studying the history of the voyageurs.
While at camp, you will practice canoeing skills and learn essential camping skills. You will swim in a lake and cook over a fire.
The daily schedule will also include arts and crafts, recreational swimming, working on projects, singing and campfires under the stars. We will do all these things in addition to gathering wood, cleaning the dishes or pumping potable water.
You become a voyageur as you canoe with your tent partners into the morning fog, eat Scottish scones, learn to pitch a tent, split logs, cook over an open fire, play le chat et souris, paddle, tip and rescue a canoe, sing traditional and modern songs, tell and get jokes in French, prepare roubabou, swim and bathe in pristine waters, identify, name and describe boreal plants and carve a spoon or make moccasins. You may also build a fire, slap mosquitoes and flies, kneed bannock, dance la Bastringue, meet fur traders, metis and other fur trade characters, listen to the loons, play "le menteur," taste your own pemmican, watch the sunset with your friends, stare into the fire and fall asleep to the sound of "la Claire fontaine"on the shore of lakes carved in the Canadian shield.
After five days at base camp, you and your brigade team are ready for the "grand voyage" in the Voyageurs National Park. Along parts of the historical routes of the fur trade, you will traverse the southern lakes of Voyageurs.
As you engage in a five day adventure, you build and strengthen with French words new friendships while paddling with or against the wind, one day in the rain and the next in the sun. One afternoon you are on the edge of a granite cliff 1, 2, 3 "plouff" you are in the lake, on snack break you are on the edge of two countries looking at a U.S. - Canada border marker and the next morning, you are on the edge of history taking pictures of pictographs left by earlier native dwellers of the land.
On the layover day for a few hours, you are the sole guest of a parcel of forest. Later, around the fire, the brigade debriefs this peaceful moment in the wilderness. During the paddling days your progress is punctuated with pauses during which you partake with water into toasts once declaimed at the Beaver Club in Montreal. After twelve days chez les voyageurs, castor, sac étanche, sac de couchage, chamallow, aigle à tête blanche, gilets de sauvetage have become your new French friends. Back at base camp the last day is filled with stories, voyageurs style competitions and a closing ceremony around the camp fire.
The Les Voyageurs permanent base campsite is located on Turtle River Lake, just a short distance from the French Language Village, Lac du Bois. Check-in for French Voyageurs programs is at the Lac du Bois site.
Up to four villagers share a tent, and staff share tents nearby. Canoes are used for tripping and transportation of food and supplies, as well as mail. All meals are prepared by villagers and staff over an open campfire. Groups portage their tents and supplies on five- to nine-day camping excursions.
Minnesota is typical of a continental climate. The North Woods of Minnesota experiences the widest variety of weather in the United States. Each of the four seasons has its own distinct characteristics. Although summers are generally hot and humid, it is normal to experience rain showers, thunderstorms and cool nights. Summer temperatures average 85 F but can get down to 55 F. This program lives outdoors, regardless of the weather, so come packed and prepared to handle a wide variety of temperatures and dry or wet weather.
9950 Rue de Compiègne NE
Bemidji MN 56601
Phone: (218) 586-8600 (main Bemidji office number)
Fax: (218) 586-8788 (main Bemidji office fax)