Trail Swag attended a recent course at Canadian Outdoor Equipment given by the Happy Camper himself... Kevin Callan. It was called Beyond the Basics: Multi-Day and Solo Trip Planning.

The attendees came from around the province and Canadian Outdoor Equipment had set up a nice little classroom for us to engage in the seminar.

Right away Kevin broke the ice by letting us get to know each other better by pairing up for a theoretical paddling trip. He then gave some wise information from his years of paddling on how to assess your canoe partners and more importantly, diffuse any issues that could arise.

Chris from Canadian Outdoor Equipment popped up during our coffee break to answer any questions about camping equipment such as the Trangia stoves.

A guided tour of all the different stoves on the market followed by the pros/cons of each were given. We also had the opportunity to see the "Kelly Kettle" from Scotland, which is quite popular there.

Then came the part where Kevin proceeded to dump every knapsack he owned onto the floor to show us how to pack them and what to pack. Stuffed into a SeaLine waterproof bag (as shown to the right) is pretty much all Kevin brings as far as clothes.

Continuously through-out the seminar (in typical Happy Camper-fashion) Kevin would side-track himself with an interesting story to help drive home a point, or interject an interesting tidbit that you wouldn't find anywhere else.

A hands-on demonstration of Knots, (which are such an essential piece of knowledge for pretty much any outdoors adventure) was handy as we learned how to do the important variants such as the bowline knot and the fisherman's hitch.

Kevin offered a good explanation of axes and the dangers and benefits of carrying one while camping.

In our groups we learned the fundamentals of compass navigation, and then in turn, how it relates to GPS. The building blocks of compass knowledge were invaluable and should be practiced yearly as a refresher as it isn't something that you commonly use (and could possibly save your life).

Freeze dried food was an interesting topic and eating properly while camping is one of the delights of camping in the first place. Throughout the seminar there were lots of hands-on examples and in the photo above, Kevin passed around some dehydrated olives. We learned about keeping meals interesting and varied and worked on meal plans of our own...

Finally, Kevin went over some of his favourite paddling trips such as the Mississagi River, Killarny, Nippising River (to see wolves), the Spanish River (for your first white water experience) and Little White River (for fishing).

The whole course was eight hours, but could have gone on even longer as there were topics we didn't even cover (and we covered plenty more that I haven't even mentioned here). It was well worth your money and I do recommend attending one of these courses. One of the added benefits of going, was meeting other outdoors like-minded people from all walks of life. Each of them loved the outdoors for different reasons and had a story to share. It was a pleasure meeting all of you and thanks to Kevin for such a great seminar, and thanks to Canadian Outdoor Equipment for hosting this event.