Camp season is fast approaching and parents may be making preparations for their children to attend. That’s a good thing. For several summers, almost 60 years ago, I attended a summer camp on the shores of Lake Winnipeg and the memories are with me still.
I remember getting there. There would be a rallying place in Winnipeg, where campers from across the province would meet. When all were assembled, we would be transferred to the train station to be transported to Gimli – probably the first train ride for many of us. After we had disembarked, we would march the short distance to the campsite.
I remember the lake. For a Prairie boy who had never seen any body of water larger than a slough, the endless horizon of water was truly amazing. I always found the lake to be very cold, and when there was a wind blowing and the waves were two or three feet high it could be dangerous. Every afternoon we were allowed to swim for about an hour and for the hardy ones there was also the “early-morning dip.”
I remember the food. There’s something about camp that sharpens the appetite so that almost everything tastes good, even oatmeal porridge, which I very seldom ate at home. How the camp cooks could produce enough food to feed the hungry group is beyond me. There was also a short time in the afternoon when the “Tuck Shop” was open and one could buy some sort of treat, although the selection was very limited. Most of us didn’t have much money anyhow.
I remember the cabin. It was pretty rough, much like the wooden granaries on the farm, with room for about a dozen boys and a counsellor. Each cabin had a name and there was a competition involving cabin housekeeping. Every morning the cabins would be checked and judged for such things as beds being made up and general tidiness. We were expected to do our part not to bring dishonour to our cabin mates.
I remember the sports and of course the lessons. Camp was the first time I was asked to sing a solo, something that I still do to this day. I have many positive memories of camp, and believe that if at all possible, each child or young person can benefit from such an experience – creating memories that will last a lifetime!