by Carolyn Cook – former staff
My memories of Camp Big Canoe are so numerous and impactful, that it is hard to know where to begin. I was there for several years as kitchen staff in the early 80’s. My perspective is different because at the time I was in my early 30’s and a single mom. The best part of Big Canoe was that not only did it give me summer employment, but also gave my daughter a full summer at camp. Priceless. The days were long but there is no better way to spend a summer.
My memories include:
– Wildlife – there were deer mice which one night my daughter and another kitchen staff member rescued from the live trap in trippers and tossed in bed with me.
– A young bear who loved our slop pit and they used my leftover stroganoff to bait the live trap used to relocate him
– Watching campers go frog hunting at the bridge
– the snapping turtle which had CBC painted on it’s belly and even though caught and relocated several times it always returned home to Hart Lake
– Tom’s dog Toby who needed his tea every evening
– Seeing moose tracks on the camp road while going to Mr. Allen’s store
– Carolling on the last night of each session
– Popping corn and putting oranges in Stockings for the Christmas in July celebrations
– Practical jokes which included moving belongs and sending the owner on scavenger hunt ending with said items doubled bagged at Turtle Rock
– Very early in the morning having a very homesick camper sent to me in the kitchen
– Stargazing watching for falling stars
– Trips to town in the camp van to do laundry
– Mrs. T’s tent camper outside the lodge and her teaching campfire cooking
– The privilege of having the cottage with the only bathtub in camp
– Surprise at how many campers chose porridge (or gruel as Bill Wheeler called it) over Rice Krispies or Cheerios
– The staff member who was teary and homesick for the whole summer till the last week when she was teary because we were leaving and going home
– Watching my daughter do the lake swim while I can’t swim a stroke and the sealed baby food jar with a red sparkled lid filled with Hart lake water which still stands on a book shelf, an award for her swim
– Last but not by any means least Tom’s advice to “Keep a Balanced Canoe”
The memories are numerous but the impact remains. I can’t smell a camp fire without feeling a sense of longing for Camp Big Canoe.
Last summer during some health concerns, I would regularly have my blood pressure checked with instructions to close my eyes and think of myself on the beach. When I closed my eyes, I visualized Hart Lake from the chapel. It worked every time.