The Russell woman spent 50 hours alone in the woods last week without food in a challenge to raise funds for children in need. Starting on Thursday morning and wrapping up on Saturday, Guindon brought only 10 items along for the challenge.
The “Alone in the Woods” challenge was part of a project from You Feed Them, a Chesterville-based organization connecting Canadians with charity and sustainable agriculture projects in Africa. Guindon raised $4800 during her challenge for bedding for 200 albino children in Tanzania.
Guindon visited the country in 2018, and said the children were kept at a school night and day for their own protection to prevent persecution. “They can’t go back to their homes and they live in poverty,” she said. “A lot of them have no mattresses or mosquito nets.”
Guindon said the challenge proved harder than she first expected, but she was glad to return before the snow arrived on Sunday. “I didn’t realize, for example, just to have a fire at night, how long it takes to collect wood and how long it takes to nurse a fire,” she said. “That was a full-time job. I only made one at night, and then I was counting down the minutes until I could reasonably get in bed.”
While the cold and fasting did not bother Guindon, she said boredom was a major challenge. The only time she considered quitting was after some light rain began to fall on her lean-to.
“It let up a little bit so I pushed through… then once I got moving I got a second wind and thought, ‘I’m going to do it, I can make it another day’,” she said. “Even though I was getting wood all day, I was kind of bored. I’m a real homemaker, so I believe it or not, I missed doing laundry. But it was for a good cause.”
Guindon said she had received strong support from the community and her family, while her husband and son had planned their own versions of the challenge. “There are already people who want to do it over the winter,” she said. “My husband is going to do 51 hours so he can beat me.”
Another member of You Feed Them, Roland Poirier, spent 100 hours in the woods earlier this month. The funds he and Guindon raised during their challenge were enough to reach the goal for children’s bedding. Guindon asked anyone considering the challenge to think carefully about the 10 items they brought.
“Realize most of your time is going to be foraging for wood and building a fire,” she said. “If people have this romantic idea, which I did, that you’re going to get a bonfire going, they have another thing coming.”