White caps are spilling over the bow of our aluminum canoe onto my hot pink waterproof sandals. Fear rises like the water in our boat; we are novices navigating the Boundary Waters in its fury. TT at the stern yells, “Center yourself!” She’s twenty-one, and her wisdom rips through the gust. I take a deep breath, squint into the wind, and dig into the wave.

This is my MOXIEmoment. Paddling the Boundary Waters with five Gen Z women for a week of Super-Moons, loon spottings, fresh blueberries, YWCA yoga, and watching for bears as you pee. It’s a week of laughter, power struggles, leeches sliming between your toes, and swimming with your clothes on pretending you’re a washing machine to get the smell of “hard work” out.

With all challenges, there was also conflict-and what I call a Lord of the Flies moment. Since we all survived, the English teacher in me thought it would be fun to come up with our own themes. You will not find these on SparkNotes.



Themes from our Boundary Waters trip overheard and lived on our route through Saginaw, Red Rock, Alpine, and Sea Gull Lakes.

  1. Self-Assurance v Self-Doubt. It was PH’s turn to stern; she said, “If I can’t do it, I might cry.” She did it; she didn’t cry. In our closing activity she said, “I need to stop letting negative things get to me. I always doubt myself when in reality I can do all things.”
  2. Joy v Peace. I was looking for peace after my brother’s death. There was no peace swatting mosquitos, sleeping on a tree root, or portaging the 90 lb. bear-barrel. But there was joy. In the teamwork of the “Kristiettes,” the playfulness of “Tent Talk,” and the laughter of the one-liner series of “Why use a Band-Aid-when you have a leaf?” “Why use a toilet, when you have a hole in the ground?” “Why use toilet paper-when you have a hand?”
  3. Women v Nature. Although one or two of us may not want to return to the Boundary Waters (right now), we all felt the trip was worth the time, effort, and sacrifices. We learned so much about ourselves and each other and highly recommend it to YOU. AS said, “I felt empowered by being challenged physically outdoors.”
  4. Belonging v Isolation. In a world of Tik-Tok (we had a celebrity or two in the group), Insta, Finsta, and Snap, being away from social media for a week forced us all to see each other-in real time, in person, for better or worse. When the group seemed to be shattering into a thousand pieces like the conch, I brought our focus back to belonging. From Me to We. TT sprained her ankle and laid in the mud defeated; we clapped and cheered when she finished the hike. “The group’s support inspired me and made me understand that we are stronger together.”
  5. Hope v Giving Up. With the attack on women’s health and setbacks of COVID for women, Equality Day seems distant. But with these women leading and sterning (steering the way), Equality Day feels possible.


I’ll leave you with words from the author of Lord of the Flies, William Golding, “I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been. Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater.”

What is a theme of your summer? How does it make you greater? And how will you celebrate Equality Day? Hit reply and share. 

Happy Equality Day. In Love and Moxie,  Kristi

P.S. Do you love coffee? Do you want to see more young women (and men) experience the Boundary Waters? Buy Boundary Waters coffee LIMITED EDITION – Boundary Waters Coffee Blend – Urban Ventures from Urban Ventures and help fund the Summer 2023 trip.



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    One Comment

    1. Robin September 18, 2022 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      I love this! The way you use colorful stories to identify the lessons is powerful and fun to read. Looking forward to your future blogs, Kristi.

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