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Born to Be Wild: Outdoor Adventures for the Whole Family

May 11, 2003 -- One of the best bonding experiences a family can enjoy is a group outing in Mother Nature. A non-profit organization based in Minneapolis, the Wilderness Inquiry has been making such activities possible since 1978, while helping out people with disabilities and other disadvantaged folks as well. The prices are good, in part, due to generous contributions from compassionate donors. One excellent example: $375 for a three-night "Canoe Adventure" in cool Maine this July and August (with half price for youths 16 and under).

On the Junior Lakes Family Canoe Adventure, which operates on July 17 and August 13 this year, you get yourself to the Bottle Lake boat landing in Maine, where you will learn basic paddling skills, which you put to use getting across the lake to your first night's camp. On Day 2 you continue to McKinley Point, taking breaks along the way to fish and explore the vicinity. On Day 3, you paddle out to explore surrounding lakes while looking for eagle and osprey. On Day 4, it's back to Bottle Lake landing. Return to Bangor (the nearest airport) in the evening, perhaps using the outfit's shuttle van roundtrip fee $30.

For every WI trip, the company tells you everything you need to know before you arrive. In the case of the Canoe Adventure, you be on predominantly easy terrain, you spend an average of 3 to 5 hours paddling, from 5 to 7 miles per day, you'll sleep in tents out doors and bathroom facilities consist of outhouses or folding commode chair. Additionally, you'll be expected to pitch in with the chores such as cooking and washing dishes. WI provides tents, canoes, safety equipment (such as life jackets) and camping gear. Although they have loaners available, you should bring your own sleeping bags (and clothing, of course). Trips are small, with no more than 12 participants, plus to WI guides.

On family trips, the staff bring along a bag of tricks, including everything from balls and Frisbees to a variety of activities that entertain and educate you and the family on a multitude of issues, including the environment, disability awareness and outdoor skills.

Wilderness Inquiry has such family adventures operating in at least 30 different places, most of them in the US and Canada, a few as far afield as Australia, South Africa and Costa Rica. Within North America, they range from Hawaii in the west to Junior Lakes (Maine) in the east, and from the Porcupine River (Alaska) in the north to Ft. Myers (Florida) in the south.

To contact WI, go to their website,, or phone them at 800/728-0719 or 612/676-9400, fax 612/676-9401 (TTY 612/676-9475), e-mail