Wa-thik-ane, camp by the peaceful waters; I shared three weeks with you this summer with a mountain of smiles and memories that come and go like the waves of your waters.
My camping experience began volunteering with Jamie, Tina and Laura; all three new to the provincial summer camp scene and we had a wonderful time working with our 31 young campers; many experiencing their first provincial summer camp. We made a great team working together with our campers participating in boating, swimming, crafts, an amazing race and watermelon carving! The sun shone down on us most of our week and gave us fantastic weather for our annual Regatta Day where the object of the afternoon was to challenge ourselves, laugh and get wet! Our beaver watermelons made a great centerpiece for our camp barbecue at the end of Regatta. The rain clouds only challenged us one day but we were still able to get our boating and hike to the famous “Bluff” in between showers. Our lunch plans of grilled cheese with a side of soup on a rainy day changed quickly to cheese sandwiches sans soupe due to flaming Trangia stoves and smoking buddy burners! However, the excitement of it all made the sandwiches taste even better as we munched on veggies and fresh fruit and chatted about our exciting morning and early afternoon events. The heavy rains and alternative menu did not dampen our spirits.
Midweek brought camp showers the old fashioned way as we hosed down all the campers and they soaped their bodies and heads for a little personal hygiene with fun! A fashion show of soapy dos resulted from all kinds of different hair lengths. Squeals of excitement sounded around the campsite each morning as my alias Stick Sergeant would commence tent inspection. It was a pleasure to see such tidy tents; not many items were hanging in Stick Sergeant’s tree! Although when there were, the harmony of songs sung by untidy campers was a pleasure to listen to. A special treat for me was to have three generations- Dorothy (my mother) and Laura (my daughter) volunteering with me in a sisterhood that is close to my heart, in a place I feel so at home.
Goodbye was said to the volunteers and campers of week one and hello was said to the new arrivals for week two. Volunteering with Heather, Charyl (a.k.a Sergeant Major) and Christine made us a team of experienced leaders. We also had the pleasure of welcoming a guest Girl Scout leader, Kat, to join our team. Kat started as a guest and quickly became a team member and Guiding sister to us and the campers as she shared her experiences from Girl Scouts and songs around the campfire. Our campers were also experienced and ready for the challenges of the week. We boated, swam, cooked our meals in a variety of ways; over the fire and from box ovens to wood stove ovens! The girls also challenged themselves to learn many new camping skills as they rose to the challenge of making gadgets on day one with branches and string. Experienced campers camped overnight in nylon tents that they pitched. They also learned the importance of building an open shelter for cooking under before starting dinner on the propane stove. The dark clouds overhead quickly turned to a downpour and added a little sauce to the hamburgers cooking on the griddle; they say the best way to learn is from experience! Souvenirs were made when the girls tie dyed t-shirts in turmeric, blueberries and spinach. Kat then shared her talent at crafting as she fabric stamped leaves and letters made from twigs with the girls to add a special touch to their shirt.
It was a hot day mid-week when we started out in canoes but we docked at Blueberry Island for a quick swim and then it was back in the canoes to Micmac where we docked for lunch. The girls worked in patrols to make a fire and cook their hotdogs and a picnic lunch was enjoyed by all. The pride showed in their faces that they cooked their own meal. Our afternoon brought us back to the canoes to paddle home to Wa-thik-ane for afternoon swim. Friday afternoon brought around a big summer storm as we were playing in the water during our swim block. The whistle blew as the wind picked up and the thunder clashed; out we got and rushed back to our dry marquee. Minutes later when the wind settled and the lightning and thunder passed we were left with the realization that we had no electricity. This time it was the volunteers that had a challenge set before them – camping the good old fashion way; a wood stove and lats! Chocolate chip cookies make a great bedtime snack when they are made by the campers and baked in the wood stove oven. Saturday morning I rose to turn on the light switch and no power still. Campers from week two went home to parents and talked about the storm that left them with no power.
Week three and oh what to do? By 8 p.m. still no power so I resolve to call all the parents and notify them that the start of week three will be postponed until further notice. We have no water in the reservoir and no refrigeration for food. At 10 p.m. a Good Samaritan calls to offer us the loan of a generator and installation. Raymond is a dad of one of the campers and he was up early Sunday morning to pick up what he needed and come up to Wa-thik-ane. After a day of work he has saved the day and I am calling parents to say bring your camper up at 7 p.m. tonight. Camp is on!
Week three was called Adventure Camp and that it was; we filled our fire buckets at the lake and carried them up the hill to place one beside our tent, girls were told no flush toilets or running water and the wood stove was a cooking! They were up to the challenge and we learnt together the challenges of living without electricity. Boating and swimming went ahead as planned and out came the propane lanterns as the darkness fell. Power was restored Monday night at the sounds of cheers and water was restored Tuesday evening. Tuesday found us climbing, stretching and using our arm and leg strength to make our way through the obstacles set up in the trees and zip lining down the mountain at Acro Nature. It was more of a challenge to some than others but everyone did some of the course and we were very proud of their accomplishments.
Wednesday someone turned the outdoor thermostat down and we dressed warm to set off on our daylong boat hike. With a cool breeze blowing across the water and a cool temperature we paddled to Blueberry Island where a few brave souls swam and then on to Chez Steve’s (our boating specialist’s home) for a barbecue. A pleasant surprise of a cup of warm tea was served to us upon our arrival by Steve’s wife Nicole. The Rangers fired up the barbecue and roasted us some hot dogs served with a side of veggies and dip. Everyone managed a few hot dogs if not more as there were a lot of hungry paddlers. Snuggled warm in our beds after a cold night we arose on Thursday to a sunny day and the relaxation of spa morning. We made our own homemade spa treatments and enjoyed the downtime and good conversation with each other as we sat with our foot baths and our hands wrapped in plastic wrap. Some campers took the opportunity to do the short lake swim first and then came back for the spa. The afternoon brought us a clear day on peaceful waters for our long lake swim and some great boating.
Friday was a day everyone was looking forward to; the talk of what bathing suit to wear to the water park had been a hot topic for weeks for some campers/waterfront staff! We had a beautiful day with bright sunshine and warm temperatures for our day at the St. Sauveur water park. After a few bruises and bumps on some crazy rides we returned back to camp to cook our hobo meals over the campfire… mmm good. On Saturday, the end of summer camp, many pictures had been taken; hugs were given and received as we said our goodbyes.
Auf Wiedersehen Wa-thik-ane until next year when I hope to see the smiles of returning friends and make new friends as they come to enjoy your shorelines. As the song says – make new friends but keep the old; and thank you for all the friends I have from the time we shared at our Girl Guide summer home – Wa-thik-ane.
About our Guest Blogger: Joanne is a Brownie and Guide Leader and District Commissioner for the Pincourt District. If you are interested in guest blogging, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.