Will (pictured) and Everett floated into Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 27.
Two former Camp Michigania staff members are canoeing for a cause this summer as they make their way down more than 2,500 miles of the Mississippi River. The goal of the pair, self-described as “the Kentuckian” and “the Swede,” is to raise money for two camp programs: Kids Kicking Cancer and the camp’s partnership with Mott Children’s Hospital. Both programs provide much-needed respite for sick children and their families, who spend a week at camp relaxing and enjoying the beauty of northern Michigan.
Everett McMillen Cislo (the Kentuckian) and Will Jonsson (the Swede) began their canoe journey June 12 at the headwaters of the river at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, and have averaged about 35 miles per day.
“Every day brings a new sense of accomplishment,” says Cislo. “And meeting new people has been fantastic.” They shared a story on their Facebook page of meeting fellow canoers who, upon learning their story, invited them to dinner and home for the night to shower and sleep. “People offering complete strangers to share their homes with them,” reads the post. “What a wonderful, kind thing. One we won’t soon forget!”
They have had their share of bad experiences as well. “We are 100 percent at the mercy of mother nature—all day, every day,” says Cislo. “We’re only two weeks in and have seen almost every type of weather.” In addition to the cold and rain, they’ve had to deal with Minnesota’s unofficial state “bird”—the mosquito.
But it’s all worth it for the children they’re helping, say the pair. “I love talking about these groups at camp with people,” says Cislo. “Also, proving to ourselves we are capable of accomplishing something of this magnitude.”
They estimate that the trip will take about eight weeks, traversing 10 states before ending at the 0 mile marker at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans.