Teachers plan to spend summer north of the border


Photo Courtesy of Katie Belanger

Mr. and Ms. Belanger’s sons are excited to send the summer at Laketrails.

Gary Antonio, Staff Writer

Students may wonder what teachers do all summer long, but BSM teachers Josh and Katie Belanger might have the most interesting plans. They will be going up to northern Minnesota to work in the wilderness.

Both Belangers will be busy with different jobs at the Laketrails Base Camp. “I’m going to be working at Laketrails Base Camp which is a wilderness canoe camp for teenagers in the northwest angle. It’s on Oak Island in Lake of the Woods. My husband is [going to] be in charge of social media and the handyman as needed around the island. We are living in a small cabin with our two boys and our two dogs. We are going out the day after school gets out, and we are coming back the week before workshops start,” Katie Belanger said.

When the Belangers aren’t working, they will have time to enjoy the island and all it has to offer.  “When the campers are off the island, Mrs. Belanger, myself, our boys, and our dogs will pretty much have the island to ourselves, and we can go canoeing fishing, swimming in the lake, and having days of hanging out in nature with no cell phones,” Josh Belanger said.

The site will take a long time to get to. “It’s very remote, absolutely gorgeous out there; it takes about nine hours to get to the camp from the Twin Cities. That includes a very long bus or car ride depending on how you are getting up there, two border crossings because you are going into Canada and back into the US to get to the northwest angle and a boat ride from the angle inlet to Oak Island for base camp,” Katie Belanger said.

This is the first time that the Belangers will stay on the island. “This will be the first summer living on the island as a family. We will be with all the campers who make it to the island.  Feed them for a couple days while they get ready for a trip when they go out and canoe from island to island for five days and they come back,” Josh Belanger said.

The Belangers have been preparing for the trip ever since they made plans to head up north last year. “[Our plans] materialized last fall and late summer. We agreed we would do it last fall. So we were planning about it all school year, thinking about it, setting things aside, getting kids jackets in order, that sort of thing,” Katie Belanger said.

There will be lots of activities to do on the island. “There’s fishing, games, there’s pingpong tables, there’s foosball table, there’s swimming, there’s kayaking. And all that will be base camp. And the campers who come, go on 5-6 day canoe trips and then come back,” Josh Belanger said.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Belanger
The entire Belanger family paused for a selfie when they recently visited the camp before their summer-long adventure.

The eco writing class at BSM also heads up north. “I have taken a group of BSM students out for Eco Writing the past couple of summers. And when we were up there last summer, they had a temporary leader, and they talked openly about looking for a new one for next summer. [They] kind of joked about me taking over, and I thought it was a joke for a while…until they actually were like seriously if you are interested let’s talk about this, and so my husband and I and boys went up there late August last summer to talk about the possibility of us working there, and it turns out that everything is falling into place,” Katie Belanger said.

The eco writing class will unfortunately not be happening this summer, but it will continue to be offered to BSM students. “The eco writing class isn’t happening this summer because we didn’t have enough students register. But they are going to continue being offered every year. It’s an excellent option for incoming seniors to take as their English elective credit because all seniors at BSM take two english electives. Eco Writing counts as one of the two,” Katie Belanger said.

And what about next summer?  “Who knows, maybe we will continue to do it. I think I would love that, but it will be a big change. We will have to see,” Katie Belanger said.