Watch the Boundary Waters video made by teenage essay winner

Julia Ruelle (second from right) and her friends prepare to embark on their trip. (Photo courtesy Ely Outfitting Co.)
Julia Ruelle (second from right) and her friends prepare to embark on their trip. (Photo courtesy Ely Outfitting Co.)

The video above was produced by 15-year-old Julia Ruelle, the winner of Ely Outfitting Co.’s teen essay contest, on the parent-free Boundary Waters canoe trip with three friends that was her prize.

Ruelle wrote in her essay that she has long loved the Boundary Waters, and has told her friends all about it, but none of them had ever visited. She was excited to share her “favorite place” with them.

“I am excited to continue the chain of love for the Boundary Waters as my dad did to me and my uncles did to him,” she told Quetico Superior Wilderness News. “The Boundary Waters is such a dear place to me and I feel that it has played a major role in helping me become the person I am today. Though I have never experienced the Boundary Waters without my parents, I am anticipating that being the expert of the group will give me a new perspective.”

The video shows all the usual activities of a canoe trip: paddling, camping, swimming, fighting off bugs, and relaxing. There are lots of smiles seen on the young faces, a testament to a new generation of wilderness stewards falling in love with the canoe country wilderness.

Ruelle was diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer less than a year ago. After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment, her tumor has shrunk to almost nothing and she is believed to have beat cancer.

She wrote in her essay that the idea of going to the BWCAW with only her friends held a lot of appeal after an intensive winter of medical treatment:

I know, it might seem impossible to them, but after being surrounded and worried about almost exclusively by my parents for the last couple months, I’m very ready to escape their concern for a little while. Of course, I have always and will always love and appreciate them for their constant love and support, but distance makes the heart grow fonder, right? My desire to spend a couple days deep in the wilderness, sharing unique experiences with my closest friends, has increased greatly in the last couple months.

The group launched in mid-June at the Lake One entry point and explored the Numbered Lakes chain, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.

The inaugural contest hosted by Ely Outfitting Co. drew more than 70 entries. Ruelle and her friends received a complimentary five-day complete outfitting package.

“The main thing I learned is that these kids are absolutely craving this sort of adventure in the Boundary Waters with their friends. To read these essays and hear how passionate these kids are about wanting this experience really impressed upon me the significance of the Boundary Waters in the eyes of these young people,” Zabokrtsky told Quetico Superior Wilderness News.

Ruelle also serves on the advisory board of the recently-launched Kids for the Boundary Waters.

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