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SFA & Wilderness Inquiry in the Apostle Islands

Written by Jennifer Gledhill, Community Inclusion Coordinator


Let’s go to ……VEGAS!

“Hmmmm…What else you got?”

Oh. Okay. How about…Graceland?

“That’s SO 2006.”

……Santa Barbara?


New York City?


Uh oh…

Question: What do you do when the exciting has become blasé? What does SFA do after it has raised the bar so high that, for our more seasoned travelers, 4 star hotels and limo drives in Southern California have become been there, done that?


Answer: you go back to basics. You take away cable TV and indoor plumbing, sleep in tents, and rinse your toothbrush using a cup of water.

This past month we took our most ambitious outdoor adventure to date. With the help of the indefatigable folks at Wilderness Inquiry, we went to a base camp in the Apostle Islands for a four-day/three-night kayaking experience.


In August, six men and two staff flew to Duluth, Minnesota, then rested up in a hotel with one awe-inspiring view of the Aerial Lift Bridge.


After our complimentary breakfast (so, so, so many carbs #noregrets) we walked about fifty yards to the edge of Lake Superior and got the obligatory 70’s album cover photo against the backdrop of USA #238 - a 36 foot lighthouse that was built in 1910.


Then it was off to base camp. As I have mentioned in past articles, Wilderness Inquiry is serious about making the outdoors accessible to everyone - even outdoor-aphobes like me. “Accessibilty” for some means the modification of outdoor equipment, and for the less nature-inclined, it means making life without cable as seamless as possible. 

From the moment we pulled in, the WI staff took care of the logistics so my co-worker and I could sit back and enjoy the National Park every bit as much as the six adventurers in our charge. We were the guests at their Apostle Islands dinner party. 


If you guys have never kayaked, I’m here to tell you that it’s hard work - there’s  a lot of equipment to haul, lift, push, unload, prepare, remove, clean, load, and then haul back to base camp.


But the Wilderness Inquiry crew did it without complaint. They prepped our meals, air dried the plates and cutlery, played tour guide, built fires… without getting crabby. (!!)

One morning as our guide Tana was drinking her coffee, I asked her, “How do you do it? How do you sleep in a tent for so many consecutive nights and still manage to be kind and cheerful?” She didn’t even skip a beat; “I guess you really have to love it.”


Where are my manners? Here I am going on and on about the kayaking, I almost forgot to mention the day walks. So….there were day walks and they were awesome.


Grant was our other Rock Star Guide. You may remember Grant from such SFA adventures as Let’s Take Fifty of Your Clients out in Canoes, No Really and Now Let’s have an Overnight Camping trip in the Indiana Dunes Learning Center with Twenty Five More of Your Folks and Hey, Why Not have a Dance Party While We Are At It. That Grant helped our six guys take the leap into the next level of the Wilderness Inquiry adventure. Canoe believe it?


(At least Javon thinks I’m funny..)

Stay tuned, folks. This bromance between Search, Inc. and Wildnerness Inquiry is really heating up. The sky's the limit.



The Apostle Islands adventure was made possible thanks to our good partners at Toad&Co and Wilderness Inquiry.

In 2016, Toad&Co gave the National Park Service a grant with the goal of sending 1,000 adults with disabilities to national parks, in celebration of the National Park Service centennial. The Canoemobile, a fleet of 24-foot Voyager canoes, operated by Wilderness Inquiry traveled across the country to connect folks to the national parks by getting them into canoes and out onto America's great rivers and lakes. The Apostle Islands trip was part of that experience, and a fantastic 'first' for everyone involved. 

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