Making connections in the heart of the wilderness

Above: A wilderness canoe trip, part of the Deepwater Experiential Education Project.

Since 1971, the Northwaters and Langskib (NWL) has been working to stamp out wilderness deprivation among young people from the Adirondacks and beyond.

“Connection to the land, water, and sky is essential,” said C.G. Stephens, NWL’s director. “Simplicity, balance, community—in today’s world, these opportunities don’t necessarily exist. We provide that experience.”

NWL has administrative offices in Wadhams and offers experiential learning trips for boys and girls ages 10-17 north of Toronto in 4 million acres of forest reserve.

“The wilderness experience helps kids gain a deeper understanding of who they are,” said Stephens, who has been working with NWL for about 40 years. “Being with peers, especially away from their normal community, shows them how to be resourceful and how to live simply.”

In 2004, Stephens met Adirondack Foundation’s president and CEO, Cali Brooks, to set up the Deepwater Project Fund, which supports the Deepwater Experiential Education Project (DEEP), a nonprofit organization that helps fund young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to participate in experiential education programs at NWL.

DEEP also connects urban and rural youth, which is important for Stephens.

“Whether you are from New York City or North Creek, if your family has fewer means, that feeling of isolation can exist,” he said.

“I enjoyed every second of my trip and truly loved the physical and mental grit required,” said Tommy Maron, a teen from Westport and beneficiary of the Deepwater Project Fund. “Northwaters has something rare: a chance for a total getaway. It opened my eyes to new people, places, and experiences. I am going to cherish my memories, and I will always be grateful.”

To learn more about NWL programs, including DEEP, visit