Wisconsin United Methodist Canoe Co-op
This is a non-profit co-op. If you are a non-profit group that wants to sponsor or run canoe trips into the wilderness areas of Boundary Waters and Quetico Provincial Park, we have all the equipment you will need at the very reasonable rate of $3.00 to $3.50 per person per day. Churches from several denominations have been using the equipment every summer. Call or send Rev. Forrest Wells a note and a schedule will be worked out for you.
Equipment provided includes canoes (18 1/2' Alumacraft lt. weight = 71 pounds), trailers, life jackets, paddles, tents, cook equipment, dishes, utensils, tarps, axes and saws.)
This is a great way to help build a sense of wonder in youth and adults because God's creation is so incredible! This is a great way to offer a great chance for people to work, laugh, play and pray together in an awesome setting! You may have trained and experienced people in your fellowship. If not, we have a training program.
Rev. Forrest Wells, Manager
How the Canoe Co-Op Got Its Start
Rev. Bob Firary did some trips to the Quetico with local youth and with Rev. Art North in the early 1960s. They decided to do a trip with Wisconsin Conference youth. We did the trip with very primitive gear. Bob then took a personal loan at the Bank of Sun Prairie for $3,500 to improve the equipment. Then Bob and Art started Canadian trips into the Quetico with a very much portage and brief base camp format. Rev. Lloyd Foster and Rev. Stan Matz began to do trips with local youth into the American Boundary Waters area. They had a small portage and long base camp format. We formed a partnership that Lloyd named No Fi Fo Ma using the first two letters of the partners' names.
In 1975 Bob Firary came to me, Rev. Ray Robinson, and asked if I would consider taking over the No Fe Fo Ma equipment. I used it for a trip, looked at the site, and saw some real possibilities for ministry and said, "Yah sure U betcha!" Through the years the number of groups using the equipment has grown so that 300-350 people use it every year.
We have churches from several states and denominations, Scout groups, and a few other non-profit groups using the equipment. We now have 21 canoes, 5 trailers, and lots of tents, packs, life jackets, paddles, cooking and eating supplies, etc. We can outfit six groups per week.
We moved from storing equipment in an old school bus to storing it in a World War II garage, which has room to hang wet tents and packs to dry and to keep everything safe. The Swanson family has welcomed us for all these years to have the canoes, trailers, and the shed on their property. They are members of the United Methodist church in Ely, Minnesota. Recently, our volunteer group put fresh paint on the storage garage. It welcomes campers with it’s new bright yellow walls and silver roof.
I say thanks to Bob Firary, Stan Matz, Lloyd Foster, and Art North for getting this project started. Now the name got expanded to No Fi Fo Ma Ra. All the work done to keep this project going is done by volunteers. I also say thanks to all who help the Canoe Co-op function! It is a ministry we all love.
May God's peace and love be with you on your wilderness adventure.
Forrest Wells took on leadership of the Canoe Co-op in 2011 after many years of leadership by Ray Robinson.
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