TRIP FAQs

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

We've put together this list of most frequently asked questions regarding our trips, so you can prepare and learn about what to expect! If you still have questions after reading through these, please reach out to us on our contact page.

1.What level of wilderness and paddling experience is required for participants to go on a trip?

None! Unless otherwise specified, our experiences are designed to accommodate people of all levels of experience. Our highly trained and equipped instructors will teach you everything you need to know to thrive in the wilderness. We just ask that you be willing to challenge yourself and try new things. Our experiences operate on a ‘challenge by choice’ principle. This means that, regardless of your experience level, you should expect to be challenged. This will look different for everyone; some challenges may be physical, some mental, some relational, some spiritual. 

2.What would you say to a potential participant who's nervous that they'll slow the group down with slow paddling or limited skills, etc?

You have a unique role in the group, and the group needs you. Each person here, including you, has unique strengths, and brings something of value to this community. Similarly, each person has areas where they can improve. If you look at your area for improvement as a learning opportunity instead of as a weakness that hinders the group, you will learn so much more, and overcome it! The point of our experiences is not to simply get from location A to location B as fast as possible; we are journeying. This means that what happens along the way is just as or more important than the physical destination.

3.How many participants and leaders are typically on a trip?

Our experiences are rooted in small group development. This is where we tend to see the most significant growth. In light of that, each trip will have two highly trained, mature instructors and usually 5 to 10 students.

4.What sort of training do the trip leaders undergo?

Our instructors take part in a fully immersive two month training program. The first month involves the development of a wide range of ‘hard’ wilderness skills through a three week back-country camping trip. During this time they are trained in paddling technique, camp craft, navigation, fire building, and cooking. Following this trip, they spend over a month learning in depth about the process of small group development, the journey of spiritual formation, the stages of adolescence and psychological development, and they receive industry standard Wilderness First Aid training. A large part of the training is practical, hands-on experience, whether that be teaching a lesson on map and compass to their co-participants, or leading a morning devotional for the summer team.

5.Can participants take their phones or other technology on the trips?

One of the greatest reasons we head out into the wilderness is to free ourselves from the immense volume of distractions that plague us in the world we know. As such, we ask our participants to leave their technology at the base camp in a safe storage area. Taking a break from technology allows participants to be fully present with one another, and gives the group the best chance to become a tight-knit community. Additionally, cell phones will not have reception in the back country, and there is the risk of damage to electronics if they are brought out. If the issue is that of wanting to use a device as a camera, Coldwater has a camera that goes out on trips, and often several cameras are brought on trips. Coldwater provides the opportunity for participants to collaborate and share their photos after the trip is over.

6.Are the trips safe?

Every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of all staff and participants on a trip. Instructors are individuals who have proven themselves to be competent and mature in the wilderness, and have received a high degree of first aid training that meets the industry standard. Risk management is a large component of instructor training, and instructors are trained to identify different hazards and either remove or avoid them well before they become an issue.

7.What happens in the case of an emergency?

In the unlikely event of an emergency that cannot be handled with the available first aid supplies and training, instructors are equipped with and trained to use a satellite locator device. This device sends the exact location of the group back to the assigned Coldwater contact person. This person is available for contact 24/7 during the time the trip is out. Immediately upon receipt of the ‘help’ signal, a team is mobilized to head out and meet the group, bringing whatever they may need. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, a special button on the satellite locator will send an SOS signal to the nearest emergency services team. This team typically travels by helicopter, which provides a very short response time. They will immediately mobilize and shortly arrive at the location of the signal.

8.What kind of food do you eat on the trips?

It’s delicious and nutritious! We take food seriously, since we are so active during the day. In addition to providing the necessary nutrients to re-fuel our bodies, our meals are a core part of our wilderness experiences. Students play a large role in the planning and cooking of meals, and are given opportunities to be creative, and experiment. Most of the food we bring is dehydrated, with the exception of a fresh meal or two at the start of the trip. The dried food is the real deal, but just all shriveled up to save space and weight. Each meal contains a base, vegetables, starch, and protein. Cooking, hot drinks, and food are often one of the highlights for our participants, so come prepared to be creative!

9.Do participants have any down time during the trip to relax?

Our trips are fairly fast-paced, but we believe strongly in fun, reflection, and taking the time to find a calm center in Christ while in the wilderness. Morning quiet times are an integral part of our daily routine, as are evening group conversations. Should the opportunity present itself, we are commonly found swimming, chatting while cooking up dinner, or sitting around the fire as the night deepens.

10.What would you say to a participant who's been to a stay-over bible camp, and loved it? Are there certain elements that might be familiar to them on a Coldwater trip?

Come on a trip! Similar to camp, you will have leaders (we call them instructors) with you for the whole week. You will get to swim, sing songs, have morning devotions, and make strong friendships. Additionally, you will get to cook, learn to make a fire, set up a shelter, paddle, and how to use a map and compass!

11. Are all trips strictly girl/guy specific?

Similar to other summer camps, trips are not always gender specific. For many groups, having a co-ed trip results in just as strong group dynamics as are seen on gender specific trips. Additionally, students often benefit from learning to cooperatively work with the opposite gender. If a trip is co-ed, there will be one male and one female instructor on the trip, and students will sleep in gender-specific shelters. The simple ‘no guys in girls cabins and no girls in guys cabins’ rule applies just the same when we’re out in the woods.

12. Is it easy to make friends on a Coldwater trip?

Yes! Making lasting friendships is one of the most common things we hear about from our participants! Strong friendships are a staple of a Coldwater experience, because we are all about authentic community. Authentic community is where the good, bad, and ugly all come out – and in the end, everyone grows stronger from it. We frequently see radical transformation in groups as they spend a week in the woods together.

13. Do participants need to have strong swimming skills? If a participant is a weak swimmer, is this a problem?

No. Our policy for water is that if you are in it or on it (ie, in a canoe), then you are wearing a PFD (personal flotation device). If swimming isn’t your strong point, we would appreciate you sharing that with us so we can watch out for you, but it will not in any way disqualify you from coming on a trip, and shouldn't affect how positive your experience is.

14. What is a typical day like on a trip?

After wakeup, our morning routine typically includes a delicious and nutritious breakfast with hot drinks, a morning devotional, a period of quiet time for reflection, journaling, and prayer, and then we pack up camp to head out for the day! A hearty lunch is usually eaten on a large rock jutting out near the water, or in a shady nook if the day is hot. In the afternoon we continue travelling until we reach our campsite. Usually a snack gets pulled out, and after that’s polished off, we set to work pitching shelters, gathering lots of wood, and lighting a fire. Water is boiled to cook dinner, and then it’s time to sit down and relax with a meal. Evenings are often spent learning more about each other as we share a bit of our story, and reflecting about the day, sharing highlights, frustrations, or things we learned.

15. What happens during bad weather?

Bad weather is only a real concern if you’re not prepared. It’s going to come, so we prepare ourselves. Since we can’t control the weather, we employ several defenses to minimize the risk and discomfort associated with it. These include quality rain gear, warm synthetic clothing, and dry bags for personal belongings. Additionally, we have a lightning policy that dictates when we need to get off of the water or the trail and hang tight until the storm passes.

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