I was a kid with her head in a book. The outdoors were okay, I guess. My parents like to tell stories about how I was the kid who would walk around the puddle instead of through it. I wasn’t big on getting dirty and was happy to quietly sit in my room or on the couch reading. My parents sent me to Camp Kawartha when I was 8 years old for a 1-week overnight camp session and I absolutely loved it. I went back year after year, 2 week sessions, tripping programs, leadership programs. I spent 9 years as a camper and then 2 years as a summer camp counsellor and you know what my favourite memories are from? Trip
At Camp Kawartha we have a tradition of sending any camper that comes for 2 weeks or longer on a canoe trip. They start out short (1 or 2 overnights) and get longer and longer as you get older. We even have Wilderness Leadership Programs where the trips go out for 9 or 10 days. As a camper I did everything I could; two-week session trips, Senior Trip (now called Wilderness Canoe Trips), Counsellor Skills Development (CSD) and the first ever year of Wilderness Leader-in-Training (WLIT).
I probably went on at least 10 canoe trips with Camp Kawartha. And you know what? I’ve never been on an uneventful trip.
The first canoe trip I ever went on was how I first learned to stern a canoe. Three of us were assigned to a canoe (we were probably 11 & 12) and no one knew how to stern, so I hopped in the back and figured out the basics. It was a little rough but I later learned how to do so properly (thank you CSD) and have happily been able to paddle my own canoe from then on.
There was Senior Trip in Algonquin Park which was probably the first time that I really had to push my body to see how hard it could work. I made it through a 3km portage with a canoe without stopping because of my fantastic counsellor. She told me stories of her travels and adventures through Europe the past year to help distract me and encouraged me to just push a little bit harder and to keep going. I remember it being exhausting but feeling absolutely amazing at the end ready to take on the next one.
I’ve dragged canoes through swamps, been eaten alive by mosquitos, been pulled out of the mud and nearly lost my shoes, camped on islands, done 10 portages in a day, worked hard, learned to cook on a fire, laughed, sang, made wonderful friends, climbed mountains, lost my glasses (whoops) and loved every single minute of it.
Canoe tripping brought out silliness & confidence, it taught me to work with a team and to think creatively, it made me fall in love with nature and the peacefulness that backcountry canoeing can give.
Canoe tripping can be messy and ridiculous but the sense of accomplishment you feel can’t be beat!
What are your favourite Camp Memories? Send me a message (and maybe a couple paragraphs) to firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear your stories and, if given permission, we’d love to share some of them.