by Heather Dahmer

When I was approached as a teenager to work at this place called Camp Big Canoe, I thought about it for all of 15 seconds and said thanks, but no. Not for me. I had already accepted a job in Toronto as a lifeguard for the summer and felt I had to take the first offered. I was asked again the following year. Again, I declined.
The other part of my secret was that I had never been to camp. Never canoed, wore pajamas to a dining hall for breakfast or strange but funny costumes to skit night. None of it. I wouldn’t know what to do or fit in. Pretty scary hearing all the stories from my friends who went, did all that and lived to go back the next year. I was pretty safe in the city. So life went on for us all and I kept saying no to Mrs T and eventually she stopped asking.

Fast forward almost 15 years and I was asked again. This time, some of those who had gone before were going back and they needed help on the beach. I was now a single mom of two girls and would I consider renewing my NLS to volunteer for a 5 day camp for kids aged 6-9?

I said yes in a heartbeat.

My older daughter came as a peewee camper that first year as well. So, I finally got to find out what it was all about. I had a canoe ride, wore pj’s to the dining hall and helped out with my very first “Little People” skit. The whole thing was exhilarating-ly terrifying! As someone who had thought having a safe job was the way to go, I certainly never laughed so hard, worked so hard or enjoyed myself so much more than ever before! My daughter thought camp was amazing as well and went for the next 10 years, followed by my youngest.

This began a 28 year peewee camp journey that has only sadly come to an end due to a back that is also 28 years older. It is time to pass the whistle and the potato peeler to those that want to have those experiences again…or, as in my case, for the very first time. The friends I’ve made, are mine forever. The love of Hart Lake and the lasting gifts of fellowship, fun and caring I’ve received from this holy place are also mine forever. I will never be able to thank Mrs T enough for asking one more time.

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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