The morning meeting is often—and, in my opinion, should always be—a feature of group canoe trips. At a basic level, it’s a time for the group to discuss what can be expected in the day ahead, go over maps, and check how everyone is doing.

However, I suggest there is another kind of morning meeting. Or sometimes it is another part of the morning meeting outlined above, the two blended together. This type of meeting is more nuanced and idiosyncratic to the group—let’s call it a celebration of the morning meeting.

In praise of the morning meeting

With one particular group of canoe tripping friends, it might go something like this:

“I’d like to call this meeting to order.”

“Who will accept the minutes from yesterday’s meeting?” The minutes are accepted.

a group of canoe trippers stand on a riverside boulder for their morning meeting
Today’s trivia question: which animal kills the most humans every year?  | Feature photo: Rob Faubert

“Today’s music trivia question: Name three songs by The Zombies.”

Next, someone hums a song and the group guesses the title.

Then—“Who scored the winning Toronto Maple Leaf goal in the 1967 Stanley Cup final game?” Disagreements abound.

A meeting about nothing?

The point is: it doesn’t really matter and the more irrelevant to the day, the better and the more friendships flourish. It seems like Jerry Seinfeld’s “this is a show about nothing.” But, like the Seinfeld tagline, these morning meetings are not about nothing.

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On one trip, after a particularly eclectic meeting full of wonderful absurdities with not even a nod to the day ahead, one member new to our long-established group of friends was asked what he thought of the morning meetings.

“Well,” he responded, “you get a lot more done than many formal meetings I’ve been involved with.”

Bob Henderson is a lover of the morning meeting from Arctic river guiding to home terrain on the Canadian Shield to the everyday morning coffee chat. 

Cover of the 2023 Paddling Buyer’s GuideThis article was first published in the 2023 Paddling Buyer’s Guide. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Today’s trivia question: which animal kills the most humans every year?  | Feature photo: Rob Faubert



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