Midwest Canoe Expedition

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Carbondale, Illinois
Entry Form Open from August 1, 2021 to August 13, 2021

All participants will be required to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination(s).

All adult survivors 18 and older are invited to join TAPS on the 2021 Fall Midwest Canoe Expedition as we explore the wilderness of our earth and of our grief alongside our fellow survivors from every population. These therapeutic, outdoor skills-based events are led by both TAPS facilitators and professional outdoor guides through some of the world's most challenging and inspiring landscapes.

If you're living a life you never thought you would, why not do the things you never thought you could? When grief halts everything we once knew, we are asked to pause, reflect, and then rebuild. This is TAPS Expeditions - where planning and preparation are the gateway to discovering something new outside of who we are, learning who we can become if we simply keep going.








Join TAPS as you and your fellow survivors paddle by canoe through the Shawnee National Forest of the southern Midwest! During our Expedition, participants will learn how to navigate by canoe in the Shawnee National Forest, explore fresh water springs, paddle and hike amongst Illinois’ bald cypress trees and so much more!

Leading up to the expedition, a team bond will begin to form as you gain familiarity with each other through team meetings to discuss training regimens, gear lists and more. Your team will be a source of encouragement as you train for this canoeing adventure and an ongoing support network long after the expedition is complete.

While each expedition is unique and rewarding, they can also be physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. We at TAPS hope you’ll apply to join the team after you’ve taken some time to consider your current physical and emotional strength and resilience.

Entry forms will be open from August 1 - 13, 2021. You can expect a call from TAPS Outdoors staff within one week. If more entry forms are received than we have slots available, TAPS will host a random selection from qualified entries.

This expedition is being put together through a partnership with Touch of Nature Environmental Center. Through this partnership, we rely on our qualified guides at Touch of Nature Environmental Center for their expertise in ensuring our physical safety in a variety of outdoor spaces. Visit Touch of Nature for more information.




There will be at least two team meetings via video chat that is mandatory for participants. These meetings are designed to support you in your preparation for the Expedition and foster connections with your fellow survivors. You will have access to the Expeditions Facebook group, which will include participants from this expedition, as well as those who participated in previous expeditions so you can ask questions and learn from their experiences.


*This schedule is provided by Touch of Nature Environmental Center and is subject to change due to a number of reasons, including weather and participant skill level.

Day 1: The Expedition will begin at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Carbondale, Illinois with group introductions, gear check and family dinner. We will camp that evening on Little Grassy Lake.

Days 2 to 4: Throughout the next three days we will canoe trek on Devils Kitchen Lake, with overnight camping in Panther's Den Wilderness and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. We will also explore the lower Cache River canoe trail in our region's cypress-tupelo swamp. This is the home of Illinois' largest bald cypress tree and several of the large trees are over 1000 years old.

Day 5: After early rise and camp breakfast, we will take out, pack up, head back to Touch of Nature Environmental Center for a short closing, well-earned showers and family lunch.


It is the hope of TAPS that your team members become your family and an ongoing support network long after the TAPS Expedition is complete. Participants will be provided with a directory following the expedition to keep in touch with each other.



All trip fees from Thursday evening through Monday afternoon are covered by TAPS thanks to our generous donors.  

Trip fees not noted above are your pre/post expedition transportation costs, meals outside of events, guide gratuities and gear not provided.



You will need to cover the cost of your transportation to and from the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Carbondale, Illinois. 

Plan to arrive, after eating lunch on your own, by 1 p.m. Central on Thursday, November 4 and stay through the event’s conclusion late afternoon on Monday, November 8. 

During this expedition we will be camping along the beaches throughout the Shawnee National Forest.

Your accommodations are provided at no cost to you thanks to our generous donors.



This expedition requires no canoeing experience but does necessitate that you be physically fit and healthy. This physically demanding expedition will include kayaking between two and fifteen miles a day and some one- to two-mile hikes with hills and uneven terrain. Even if you don't have canoeing experience, if this adventure excites you then we encourage you to submit an entry form by Friday, August 13, 2021

To maximize your enjoyment of the trip and to avoid sore muscles, we suggest you engage in a regular exercise regimen leading up to the trip. Prior to the trip, we'll have an online video meeting to go over training regimens, gear lists and more. The TAPS Outdoors team will make sure you are prepared and well informed of the nature of this expedition.



Entry forms will be open from August 1 to 13, 2021 (look for the blue button at the top of this page at that time). You can expect a call from TAPS Outdoors staff within one week. If more entry forms are received than we have slots available, TAPS will host a random selection from qualified entries.


If you have any questions, please email expeditions@taps.org or call 202-588-TAPS (8277).

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