The sun was shining in Québec today, a welcome sight after such a rainy week. After the introductions, first conversations, and even the first difficulties – which were quickly forgotten – our adventure began. At the camp, the wind dropped and the group got a good idea of what the next few days will bring. 

Everyone settled in with good spirits as soon as we left the airport in Montréal. Some snoozed, others struck up conversations, and we arrived at Camp Air Eau Bois in no time. The logistics team, which completes our group, was expecting us. What a pleasant reunion! It was time to hold a presentation circle, with nine “supervisors”, a few of which joined us at the last minute or were assigned new responsibilities, as a health issue prevented our nurse from joining us. We quickly realized that among the foundation’s volunteers, there are people like Lysianne, a physician who was to accompany the group in a logistics role but will instead take on a medical role. Or like Serge, who responded within 12 hours to step into a vacant logistics position. Such experience and reliability! 

There were 18 of us, responding to facilitator Marie-Michelle’s question: “If you were one of the 4 elements of nature, what would you be? Water, earth, air or fire?” The vast majority spontaneously opted for water, as did Virginie, and that’s perfect! This afternoon, we started to familiarize ourselves with our boats on the Poisson Blanc reservoir. 

Let’s get outfitted and go!  

Each participant was given a barrel, and unwrapped their material much like gifts under the tree. Everything was planned and organized, each question heard and answered. At a quick but tranquil pace, the small group stood in readiness at the water’s edge. Safety instructions were given, life jackets adjusted, paddles handed out, and already we were carrying out the movements that had just been described to us in order to bring our huge rabaskas to water and board them. Not even one foot got wet! Thanh and Mohamad’s complicit gestures and Jeremy’s beaming look were eloquent!  

Nose to the wind and ears awash with the sounds of nature  

In the shelter of a bay, we joined our boats two by two. It was somewhat of a meditative exercise, shutting our eyes to better feel the cool air on our cheeks, listen to the regular tapping of lake water on the hull, feel the warm rays of the autumn sun, listen to the flock of geese that honours us with its passage, admire the flamboyant colours of the forest… a delicate mix of deciduous and coniferous trees that we attempted to identify. Samantha enjoyed the connection with the elements of nature, and we entirely forgot about pollution, agitation and even technology. Instead, we indulged in the healthy and powerful sensations of nature.   

Discovering and sharing 

A fire crackled in the fireplace and warmed the large room at the inn where we would be spending the night. Once settled in the cosy sofas that were grouped closely together, each participant expressed some of their expectations and apprehensions. “No one is forced to speak” underscored Catherine. And with a large smile, Marie-Michelle went on to say that the only thing participants will have to do is paddle! We learned that the pull of nature was a motivation for many, as was doing outdoor activities again, finding relief from the stresses of city life, getting out of the house, and also meeting people who are going through similar experiences, who can understand what they are going through.  

What does “on the tip of the toes” (or on tiptoe) mean? 

Before we went over the foundation’s traditions, such as “high and low” or the logbook (that you may or may not hear about later), we discussed our quite mysterious name: On the Tip of the Toes. Two explanations were provided. One is directly related to the foundation’s philosophy to be gentle, tactful and discreet. The other is to raise oneself on tiptoe and thus become taller, able to see farther, to get another view on the horizon. 

To the question “what is this first stay’s objective”, facilitator Catherine’s response was clear: to break isolation and step out of daily routine. This is the expedition’s mission and as it stands, we are on our way to success!  

Fabienne Macé, photographer and blogger  

Translated by Sylvie Lemelin