Camp is storytelling

by David Bell – Camper and Staff 2000-2016

50 stories for 50 days, that’s an ambitious goal. Not because there is a shortage of material, that’s for sure. I’m lucky enough to be working in the camping industry with people who have worked at many different camps and there isn’t a day that has gone by where I’m not telling someone a story about camp, or hearing a story about someone else’s camp.

For me, camp has always been about storytelling. I started going to camp when I was 8 years old. My counselors, Mitch and Sarah, read us “The Twits” by Roald Dahl every night before bed. I’m sure they told us plenty of other stories too, but I remember “The Twits” best because it was left out overnight when we were on trip at Lucy and got very wet, so they had to improvise the ending.

Then, for a few summers in a row, Daniela would come and tell us a bedtime story about a leprechaun named Seamus. I don’t remember what Seamus did or what the stories were about but I do remember loving them.

And I’ve told plenty of stories myself (some of them are even true!). Like the one about the double play in that baseball game against Sparrow Lake, and then the walk-off double. And the one about how the Elephants got their name. Or the other one about how the Elephants got their name. Then there’s the one where everyone found their letter from Hogwarts on their pillows and caught the train first thing the next morning, then spent the day learning how to be witches and wizards. Of course, one of my favourites is when Gill, the janitor at Camp Big Ca-News studios was right about the bats all along. There’s a great one about my friend’s bathing suit on trip. And another great one, from the same campsite on trip five years later when we re-enacted the circle of life scene in the Lion King. At Cheeze House once, someone’s hat got knocked off their head and it flew threw the air and landed on Aaron’s hat rack on the fireplace.

I think what makes it an ambitious goal is trying to pick just one story, and then even more ambitious is finding the right written words that are going to translate the weirdness and wonderfulness of camp, and they usually include, “I guess you had to be there.” The fact is, no matter what words you use, the people who were there are the ones who are going to laugh hardest.

I’m looking forward to being there in July, to collect more stories to tell.

Author Bio

Camp Big Canoe is a not-for-profit overnight recreational camp for kids ages 6-16 in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

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