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Who we are

Coldwater Canada is a Christian leadership development ministry that specializes in designing and leading backcountry wilderness experiences and leadership trainings to develop, equip and empower Jesus-centered leaders. Our canoe trips range from 3-18 days, and our leadership development programs are anywhere from 2-4 months in the summer. While primarily serving youth and young adults, we also lead adult experiences.  Many of our programs are listed here on our website, but we also value collaborating with other organizations and welcome opportunities to lead custom programs for churches, camps, and schools.


Coldwater Canada is an outreach ministry of Cedar Creek Community Church, and you will find us there at our office October through April. In May, we head five hours north to our partner basecamp, Camp Norland, where we reside and run programs May through September. Since we do not currently own a property we have embraced being mobile and would love to travel to serve your group in an area near you!

coldwater foundation

Coldwater Canada traces its roots back to Coldwater Foundation, based out of Grand Marais, MN. While located 18 hours apart, both organizations meet on a monthly basis, and recognize each other as partners on the same team. We occasionally share instructors across the border, and we encourage experienced participants to consider trying a trip with Coldwater Foundation.


We develop, equip and empower young Jesus-centred leaders through impactful wilderness experiences and leadership trainings.


To see young leaders rooted in Jesus, raising-up and discipling other leaders, serving in local churches, and influencing change in their communities.

Our Approach

We deeply desire to see authentic transformation in our staff and participants’ lives. We craft experiences that harness transformative experiential learning strategies, with the aim of equipping students to become problem solvers, change agents, and leaders that embrace challenge and value teamwork. Whether scouting a set of rapids, helping a Leader of the Day navigate islands, or equipping a group of students to plan a community service project, we empower participants to learn through meaningful guided reflection. We believe that each student is capable of much more than they believe, and we are committed to bringing out the best in people!


Our Instructors

Every Coldwater experience is led by highly trained Coldwater wilderness instructors. They are trained in outdoor leadership, first-aid (Wilderness First Responder certification), experiential learning, small group facilitation, spiritual formation and discipleship. Our leaders are mature Jesus followers with high character. They are passionate about seeing youth develop and are committed to the best practices in outdoor leadership.

Interested in being a Coldwater instructor? Read more here.

what makes our programs unique

All Coldwaer programs are...

  • Intentional – Every program we lead is an opportunity to affect life change in our participants, and we do our best to maximize this opportunity by planning each program element with intentionality. 

  • Christ-Centered – Whatever the background of participants, our hope is that each one will discover the abundance of life found in Jesus. We reflect this desire in our staff selection and training process and in our program design.

  • Experiential – Each program is planned in the experiential learning process, characterized by intentional action followed by meaningful guided reflection, leading to growth and learning.

  • Wilderness Based – We lead unplugged programs away from the comforts and distractions of normal life in arguably the most beautiful and powerful classroom for shaping leaders.

  • Challenging – We believe that “transformation never happens in a comfortable learning environment” (Dunning) and that young leaders can discover some of their strongest gifts and deepen their character when given the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone through challenge.

  • Excellent – We strive to meet or exceed industry standards and reflect this approach in our seven-week training program for preparing new wilderness staff. We desire that our participants will walk away saying that they “thrived” in the wilderness, so we pursue excellence in our program planning, our program gear and food, and in our facilitation and leadership.

  • Opportunity Driven - We create as many opportunities as possible for participants to make decisions, take leadership roles, and experience the consequence of their actions with immediate opportunities to celebrate or try again.

  • Skill Training for Transfer – While participants may not use newly-acquired wilderness skills when they return home, we believe that they gain valuable personal insights that are incredibly transferable including confidence, perseverance, self-efficacy, commitment, and an “I can” mindset.

  • Small Group Focused – We plan and facilitate programs using the small group development model to maximize the learning and growth opportunity for each individual. We find that the best group size is 8-12 people, and even programs we design for larger churches or camps will incorporate small groups.

  • Managed Risk – While our culture often views wilderness as dangerous, many of the situations and challenges are foreseeable. We do everything we can to minimize the actual risks, while maintaining the perceived risk so that our students have the opportunity to expand their comfort zones.

Still have questions about what to expect from your Coldwater trip? Send us an email with your questions or check out our FAQ page.

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