600 miles down

Juddah Roberts, senior, tackled the journey of a hiking and canoeing trip during the summer of 2021.

Two weeks in Wyoming and canoeing 600 miles along the Yellowstone River; Juddah Roberts, senior, tackled the journey of a hiking and canoeing trip during the summer of 2021. He was accompanied by 10 other boys with Camp Kooch-I-Ching, a well established wilderness camp in northern Minnesota.  Juddah said he was challenged with what’s known among the campers as the “big trip.” 

“They’ve built up [to the big trip] over the years,” Anna Roberts, Juddah’s mother, said. “Their first summer there, they would go for six-day trips.” 

Since his first year at Kooch-I-Ching in 2014, Juddah has worked up to this trip through shorter trips. Even with this preparation, Juddah said the journey was difficult. He traveled 50 miles a day.

“I was pretty nervous because it was the first time I’ve done [a trip] this long,” Juddah said. “I had done other trips before, but they weren’t as hard as this one.”

Despite the hardships the campers faced, camper Ben Roberts said it was understood among them that they had to finish the trip regardless. Ben said it was a commitment.

Once you’re on a trip and you’re on the river, you have to get through it. There’s no going back.”

— Ben Roberts

“I had some of my hardest days on the big trip,” Ben, longtime friend of  Juddah, said. “Once you’re on a trip and you’re on the river, you have to get through it. There’s no going back.”

Even with the scale of his trip, Anna said the endeavor becomes a rewarding experience and an opportunity for growth. She said it’s difficult to let him leave, but believes it benefits him personally. 

“As a mom, it’s hard to let your kids go do anything without you, but it’s also good for them,” She said. “You kind of just have to let them go. When they come back, they’ve accomplished something really hard.”

With the journey down the Yellowstone, canoers had to pack their own supplies. They also had to prepare their gear and canoes. 

“We get all our food prepared, pack our stuff together and we get all our canoes ready and the gear together a week before the trip,” Ben said. “It’s basically right when you arrive.”

According to Ben, it was helpful having such a close friend on the trip with him because it made it more enjoyable. He said it was convenient to have someone to ask his questions to.

“I’ve known Juddah for so long, he’s like a brother to me,” Ben said. “It was comforting having him there.”

Before the two weeks of canoeing, campers did a week of intense backpacking through the Beartooth Mountains in northern Wyoming.  Juddah said this was the most taxing part of the trip.

I think it’s something that’s changed his life for the better.”

— Anna Roberts

“We had one day that was super long and it was all uphill,” Juddah said. “Everyone was just super tired and hungry.” 

After finishing the trip, Juddah said that he has a newfound appreciation for little luxuries. Spending two weeks outdoors, he said he enjoys the perks that he once took for granted.

“It made me appreciate that we have the little things,” Juddah said. “Like a shower or clean water or driving down the street to get McDonalds.”

Anna said Juddah has learned not only outdoor skills through this experience, but also developed as an individual. She described the growth of his social skill set.

“I think camp has taught them so much more than just outdoor skills,” Anna said. “He’s gained a lot of self-confidence. He’s learned how to make choices that are good for him. It’s helped him in other areas in life, socially, and taking risks in school where he wouldn’t have otherwise. I think it’s something that’s changed his life for the better.”