by Laura Berton – Camper 2003; Staff 2004-2006

It was the summer of 2003, and boredom stretched before me. I’d been feeling restless as I hadn’t yet made many plans. My aunt suggested I register for Camp Big Canoe’s Counsellors In Training Program (CIT, now called Leaders In Training). I was hesitant. For one thing, I’d be almost a full year older than the rest of my peers; I was turning 17 that August. My cousins and brothers had attended camp and one of my cousins worked there, and they’d all been having a blast. I just thought it wasn’t something I’d enjoy partially because I was nervous about the religious affiliation since I wasn’t a religious person.

I decided to face my fears and go ahead and sign up. What did I have to lose? It turned out I made the right decision. The instant I’d arrived and walked down the path through the woods to my tent line, I felt at home. The place itself has a peaceful energy, a feeling of returning. My favourite part of camp soon became campfire. I loved coming together as a group, in a circle, and watching the lake and the sky at dusk as they changed in the light.

At campfire at the end of August, my counsellor, Steve Salt, and Chris Tindal, performed a surprise concert on the rooftop of the Craft Cabin. I remember I was surprised and overjoyed to see them appear on the roof, laughing and singing at the top of their lungs. The song was Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’”, and we all sang along. I felt as though everything was right in the world, I felt the wind on my cheeks and in my hair, I heard the bugs buzzing and humming, and frogs croaking, but mostly I heard the delight surrounding me in children’s and adults’ voices alike. I felt free and awakened, like anything was possible. These feelings have stayed with me and helped propel me forward to become the person I am today.

Thank you Camp Big Canoe and everyone who has been part of the community!

Camp Big Canoe

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


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