DAN: Canoeing indeed was a big program. Any camper who could swim 200 yards (The first 100 yards had to be crawl) could canoe. We had a large out of camp program or tripping program including canoe trips on the Pine, Little and Big Manistee Rivers, and others in Michigan and would send the older campers of both sexes on two week trips to Canada. I forget how many canoes we had but there were many. Back then, we had 17 foot Grumman Standards and a few Smokers. We also had two war canoes that we raced during the camp Olympics.
The kids on Four Winds would canoe back and forth. There were canoe docks by the swimming area for their used. In fact, those canoe docks were the originals. Canoeing used to be taught there before being moved to a site right off of the athletic field.
The training was very rigorous in the mid to late sixties and on. There were several canoe tests (I still have copies) A solo one mile paddle was required on the most difficult test with half of a mile paddled with the paddle on one side and then a switch to the other side on the return. You had to use your J-stroke to stay straight and could not change sides of the boat to steer. We also required a one mile solo portage around camp. It would be funny to see a pair of little legs with a canoe on top as the young kids took this part of the test.
Counselors who wanted to advance up the skill ladder would take 6:00 am lessons from Peter Moffat and/or Phil Porte. Reveille was not until 7 am. I remember doing dock landings with Ed Elliot as we took our test and flipping the canoe. We got to the mess hall still wet and endured the ridicule of the whole camp.
A number of us still canoe. I never went on a canadian trip while at camp but did a trip to Ontario in 1999 and in 2000 with camp friends. I know a number of people still are avid canoeists and still take canoe trips.
In fact, I had a canoe until this year when I gave it to a friend who has a pond. I have to get over there to give him lessons.