Our four-day canoe trip with Firefly Adventures was beyond expectation. Walt guided us from Kingston up the Rideau Canal, a perfect route for one out-of-practice paddler and one new beginner. Camping at the locks each night – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – was a beautiful way to step into history in Canada’s sesquicentennial year, and each day’s paddling offered a much-needed escape from the city and a chance to refresh our minds and our bodies. The most memorable part, though, was our guide, who did so much more than get us safely from A to B (and feed us well to boot!). This being our first trip with Walt, we expected he would tailor the itinerary to our abilities, help us to improve our paddling (and to navigate unexpectedly stormy weather when it arose), and teach us about the area and its inhabitants, human and otherwise. What we did not anticipate was the extent to which Walt made us feel confident, safe, and at ease, both on the water and off it, due to his expertise and the way he never seemed to be working from a script while sharing his enthusiasm for the outdoors. Whether telling stories, chatting, listening or simply paddling along in companionable silence while we drank in joys of the outdoors, Walt’s easy, approachable nature shone through. We’re already making plans to pick up on the same route next year, right from where we left off. Highly recommended.
Walt had everything planned, prepared and packed and we didn’t have to care about anything. We could just enter the vehicle and drive to Algonquin.
Following Walt‘s canoe in the mirror of the water, maneuvering between trees cut by beavers or lumberers a hundred years ago, learning the difference between white and red pines, enjoying the fact that mosquitos are most aggressive in June, handling our first „portage“, the canoe on our shoulders, whatching birds, snakes, turtles, chipmunks (we even almost saw a mouse!) and poison ivy, walking into the forest to spread the dishwater with great swings, putting all creams and sweets overnight in the air-tight barrels (instead of taking them into the tent), enjoying 3-course menues at the fireplace while Walt is accompaning our dessert (a fresh baked pie) with songs on his travel-guitar, canoeing silently before midnight to see the stars which Walt names, whispering.
We laid our lives into the hands of a complete stranger and followed him into the wilderness. In return Walt gave us – in his quiet, but always aware and ever present leading-from-behind manner – confidence in new abilities. Our son became a master of fire (with wet birch bark instead of paper) & fishing (Walt prepared them to the last bone), Patrick changed from a ‚lilly dipper‘ to a coxswain, and Sabine learned to sleep (well) in a tent, far away from civilisation.
Thank you Walt for leading us into the wilderness and for teaching us so many new aspects of life.
Hoping to meet you again under the summer star-triangle of Algonquin,
Sabine, Patrick and Max, Zurich, Switzerland.
“Hi Walt, I wanted to thank you and express how much we enjoyed and learned from the trip. It was a pleasure meeting you and spending the most extraordinary three days of my life on your trip. You made the trip exceed my expectations as well as Antoine’s. I shall never forget the stargazing from the canoe! You’re a wonderful guide; you made me feel safe and your fascinating knowledge about nature and camping kept me alive and enthusiastic throughout the trip. I appreciated learning from you and your gentle pushing and your approach towards people. Thanks again.
Aznita , Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Experiential Education Programs
“The students were very excited to go through the woods and find evidence of animals. Your knowledge and enthusiasm for nature go unmatched. We learned more than expected today.” H. Burns
I am a third grade teacher with the Limestone District School Board. Last year my class and I had the opportunity to take part in the pioneer program that Walt Sepic developed. The hands-on experiences of daily life as a pioneer were exactly what my students needed in order to solidify their learning. Walt taught my students how to square dance, safely use woodworking hand tools, and even make Bannock bread and candles. The children loved the experiences and I would recommend this program to any educator.
Jennifer Guild, Grade 3 Teacher, Elginburg Public School
“Walter, just a quick note to thank you for all of your work and enthusiasm during our 2 visits to the outdoor education centre. The students and I had a wonderful time. The board is very lucky to have such a dedicated and exciting teacher. Enclosed please find thank you letters from each of my students.
Sincerely, Amanda Graham, gr. 6 teacher.
——————————————————————————————————- “We loved all of our pioneer activities; they were hands on and informative. I loved every part of it; just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Walter played old folk tunes on the harmonica while we made candles!” B.White
—————————————————————————————————— “Walter is a valuable resource; his knowledge engages children of all grades and helps learning come alive. Wow!”
Thank you for coming to our class and telling us what you know about the solar system. You explained everything really good and clear. My favourate thing was when we looked at the craters on the moon with your big telescope and that really bright shooting star that shot across the sky! THAT WAS REALLY COOL! Thank you to Mars and back for coming and spending time with us.
Thank you so much for making me interested in space. Seth
Thank you for coming in and talking to us about astronomy. It was very interesting; I learned a lot from you. My dad and I had lots of fun bringing our telescope and looking at the stars, the moon and JUPITER! My dad and I learned a lot from you and he also wanted to say thank you. Please come and visit us again. I would love to learn more. Brianna
—————————————————————————————————— Dear Walt, Thanks for a fabulous day yesterday(canoeing). It was a good reminder for me how important the outdoor classroom is. The students enjoyed the experience very much.
Best, Charlotte Schurer
“Shad Valley is a one month, high school residential program for high achieving senior students from all over Canada. We have engaged Walter Sepic to provide outdoor activities and team building for our camp participants for several years. I would recommend him wholeheartedly to anyone looking for guiding in outdoor education and team building. He is competent, careful, passionate about his work and completely respectful of the needs and fears of the participants.
Walter provides instruction and support in specific activities such as canoeing and campfire building, valuable exercises in team building, communication, trust and empathy, and hands on exposure to the science and technology of renewable energy and sustainability and observation of the natural world. As in previous years, I was impressed with how he worked with us to tailor the trip to our program objectives. His curriculum of co-operative physical activities and the sequence of trust-building exercises are ideally suited for supporting the personal skills and community values we try to develop during our program. Walter’s risk management experience and thorough preparation allow us to give the young people exciting experiences without worrying about it. We appreciate both his professionalism and his sense of fun. “
Sincerely yours, Louise C. Mallory, P.Eng., Shad Valley Prog. Director
On behalf of the Principal/Vice Principal’s Professional Development Committee, I would like to thank you for the time and expertise you provided at our recent principals’ retreat. Your tailored sessions were practical, motivating and educational. The insights passed on regarding personal wellness using the outdoors as a forum for personal growth were useful. The feedback from our group was overwhelmingly positive. Many of our more experienced colleagues were inspired by the opportunity for everyone to participate regardless of age, ability level or knowledge of the outdoors. All participants felt challenged and motivated, many leaving the session with a sense of renewed energy.
Many thanks, Carmine Minutillo, Co-chair P/VP Prof. Dev. Committee