Four the Water


Four the Water is a project created by us (Ryan, Drew, Karol, and Jared) to do our part to protect our beloved Great Lakes and inspire others to do the same! 

To accomplish such a task we will be kayaking around Lake Superior and making a documentary film of our travels.  We aim to spread awareness of the need to conserve our Great Lakes, promote organizations doing hands-on conservation work in the region, and encourage others to donate to these organizations so future generations will be able to enjoy everything the Great Lakes have to offer! 

Check out our website for full details of the trip, documentary film, and the message we want the world to see!!


Donations to us are now geared towards raising money for the Superior Watershed Partnership in Marquette, MI. We set the bar at $10,000 to see how many people we can get to donate a few dollars (or more) to help protect the Great Lakes. Our journey around Superior has already begun and now we are doing our part, promoting our cause, picking up garbage on beaches or in the water, and simply spreading the love for the Great Lakes. 

The Superior Watershed Partnership has been doing hands-on conservation work in the Great Lakes basin for about 20 years. So far, they have accomplished some amazing feats and hold many ecological success stories. Check out their website, , for more information about them. 

Thanks again for everyone's amazing support for us and the Great Lakes. Keep spreading the love and remember to grab some trash next time you leave the beach!  

Our goals include:

1.     Increase education and awareness of the impact and importance of clean water in the Great Lakes.
2.     Develop a greater understanding of Lake Superior to make smart, creative conservation recommendations and actions in the future.
3.     Promote and raise money for non-profit organizations like the Superior Watershed Partnership and Alliance for the Great Lakes so they can effectively continue with their critical projects to protect the Lakes.
4.     Demonstrate our passion and love for Lake Superior and all the Great Lakes.
5.     Identify individuals before, during, and after our travels who share our passion for the Great Lakes and want to help make a difference.
6.     Clearly document our trip by the use of photography, film, and journals/online posts. After our journey,  we will be making a documentary film about our travels and the people along the way that have helped make this journey possible. When complete, share our story at film festivals around the Midwest and other states.

The Team

Jared VanOordt

      21, enjoys any and all things water related. I grew up in Grand Haven, MI and moved lakeshores to Lake Superior in Marquette, MI to pursue an Environmental Science degree. I have been guiding sea kayak tours at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  for 3 years now. I’ve been inspired by Lake Superior and the many adventures and beauties she holds, which has sparked us to help protect and explore this unique and fragile ecosystem. Looking forward to catching some waves back in Marquette when we arrive home!

Karol Rajski

My family and I moved to the U.S. when I was very young and was raised in Chicago. I first discovered my passion for the outdoors thanks to my dad. Who took my brother and I fishing every weekend. At one point my dad said that my brother and I played our Sega genesis too much, so he cut the wires and we cried ourselves to sleep. The next day my mom bought us a butterfly net and we started catching butterflies, moths, and even crayfish and snakes at the nearby pond. Then came a microscope and we would look at all the insects we caught. We would pin them to cork boards and put them on display at our home. I decided after high school that I wanted to study wildlife and fisheries management at NMU. Since living in Marquette I have found so many passions in the outdoors that it makes it difficult to decide what activity to partake in when I have free time. Throughout the past years I have been fortunate enough to travel to different countries and experience different cultures. I’ve had many backpacking trips and even lived out of my tent with Drew and Ryan for a whole summer while guiding on the Pictured Rocks. Paddling around Lake Superior has been a dream of ours since our first season guiding, and it is amazing to have this opportunity and be able to learn, educate, inspire and spread awareness of how important our Great Lakes are to us.

Ryan Busch  

      24, born in Holland, MI.  I have two amazing energetic Australian Shepherds and a very supportive girlfriend, Anna back at home helping push our passion for the Great Lakes. I am also a three year kayak guide along Pictured Rocks and an independent filmmaker where I also studied at Northern Michigan University. I dropped out of school to live in Colorado and the outer banks of North Carolina before realizing the Great Lakes have impacted my life more than I could imagine, so I moved back to Marquette to finish school. I am very driven to give back to my roots and continue to motivate the Midwest for how fortunate we all are. I will be documenting the circle tour to help share our story.

Drew Etling

I grew up playing naked in the mud and drinking "coffee" a delicious mud and water mixture. On the weekends I floated the rivers of the Ozarks with my family and dogs. My Family and I counted turtles by the hundreds and pointed out the spirits in the gorgeous limestone cliffs. From a very early age my Dad and Mom had instilled nature into my soul. Since then I have migrated Northward to Lake Michigan, and ultimately Lake Superior. Right away she took my breath away. Lake Superior has especially fascinated me with her enchanting beauty and her many precarious moods. This Lake has given and sustained life for thousands of years. The life source has changed my life and touched my heart and soul. It is up to us to protect the Lakes, and reciprocate the gift of life. The most beautiful gift of all. Paddle Hard!!

Our Story

 All of us were born and raised around the Lake Michigan area. We all remember going to the lake and enjoying the beauty of the views Lake Michigan has to offer, from the Empire bluffs to the Chicago skyline, we shared just about the same experiences with the water. Without Lake Michigan we would have never agreed with ourselves to settle in a northern paradise in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Lake Superior is what brought the four of us together, not only did we all end up moving to Marquette but we all randomly ended up working for the same guiding service in Munising, along the spectacular Pictured Rocks Lakeshore. Superior and kayaking brought us together so what better way to spread our story and message than by paddling around the biggest freshwater lake in the world! (by surface area) 

The Great Lakes contain 20% of the world's surface fresh water, Lake Superior alone has 3 quadrillion gallons of freshwater. This is one reason the Great Lakes are so unique and therefore, valuable. However, the Lakes are increasingly at risk of climate change, invasive species, waste run-off, and many more threats that need our attention. These threats have already caused negative impacts in the lakes ecosystems, local economies, and quality of life. Our mission is to inform people about these dangers to the Great Lakes and teach them about how they can get involved so we can continue to protect and improve the Greats. 

Our method to spread this awareness will be to discuss the issues with citizens/professionals/businesses before, during, and after the paddle. We will also distrubute educational pamphlets, collect data, and help any organization along the way to improve our water. All these ventures will be documented and ultimately turned into a documentary film for the world to see. 

Film & Blog
Title: Four the Water
Director / Director of Photograhy - Ryan Busch
Land support Director of Photograhy - Craige Hedges and others.
Addional footage (action cameras) - The Team
Producers - The Team
(see work). - Ryan - Craig
      The film will be a strict documentation of our circumnavigation of Lake Superior. The narrative will be a back and forth between the paddler’s trials and tribulations and interviews from locals about the Lake. The film will present the paddler’s journey chronologically by including times, dates, and locations in a timeline sequence. The film will be focused around the guiding topic of “future generation leadership.” How has the Lake been dealt within the past?  Who are the leaders who are affecting future generations?  We will be updating our blog and uploading photos to social media every other day. The four of us will also be wearing a GPS indicator for safety and so family, friends, and fans can track every mile of our trip.

Trip Specifics - Three months in total

      Successfully kayak the whole Superior lake shore using single kayaks while camping along the way, relying on the water and the land. Stopping in passing towns to host talks and gather people that want to share their interest. We are going to start in Marquette, Michigan and travel eastbound until traveling north into Canada and continue that counter-clockwise navigation until arriving in Marquette for the finish. Not only kayaking the coastline but also the major islands within the lake.

                                 Locations (in order)

(USA) Marquette - Munising - Grand Marais - shelldrake/Paradise - Bay Mills / Brimley - Sault Ste. Marie
(USA to Canada) - Harmony beach - Agawa Bay - Sand River falls - Michipicoten - Marathon - Terrace Bay - Nipigon - Red Rock - Dorion - Thunder Bay –
(USA) Grand Portage - Hovland - Grand Marais - Lutsen - Tofte - Schroeder - Silver Bay/Beaver Bay - Two Harbors - Duluth - Port Wing - Herbster - Cornucopia - Bayfield - Washburn - Ashland - Ontonagon - Eagle Harbor - Copper Harbor - L’ Anse - Skanee - Big Bay – Marquette

Major islands

            Autrain island - Grand Island - Michipicoten Island Provincial Park - Slate Islands Provincial Park - Edward Island Provincial Park - Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve - Flatland Island - Isle Royale National Park - Apostle Islands (ALL) - Keweenaw Island - Little Presque

Tell us your Great Lakes story on our website! We would love to talk and answer any questions about our trip! 


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Ryan Busch 
Marquette, MI
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