by Laurie Tyndall Bell

So we are asked to relay a story about Camp Big Canoe…..but which one, I asked myself???

The one about my very first summer at camp, July 1968, where I went fishing off the dock with the director Dave Patterson, to sleeping on the 2” thick mattresses, watching a river run through our tent while laughing til tears ran down our faces, with 3 of my new best friends!

OR listening to grown men sing songs of Bumblebee Tuna, 3 Bears, Lumberjacks, Rubber Duckies, Goldilocks and Jay birds….

OR the “fogger” and watching John Allison and Rick Bates emerge from the fog wearing gas masks and overalls…

OR walking the camp road en mass to go to Fraserburg United Church or go to Mr. Allen’s store to get a bottle of pop and listen to this character tell scary stories…..

OR learning how to gunnel bob, make a god’s eye, make a fire, how to pitch a tent, and cook Gumperts….

OR becoming a CIT and Trainee…

OR burning thousands of tent caterpillars, only to have green beans for lunch….

OR watching a camper bring a shoebox full of clothes, laugh and hug and glow with happiness….

OR sleeping as a camp under the stars on the beach…

OR lying on the floor of the forest listening to Mrs. T talk about the forest “apartment building”….

OR waking up for polar bear and seeing all the canoes stacked high on the raft or floating at the end of the lake…

OR the disco dump, the bog, Lost Lake, the Chutes, Lucy, star gazing in canoes or on the dock….

OR hearing the siren and doing the deep water search – 2 days after seeing the movie “Jaws” with other staff….

OR campfires singing James Taylor, John Denver and David Beattie…

OR having a chance to share this with MY kids as their counsellor at PeeWee…..

OR feeling peaceful sitting at chapel looking at the wonder of God in the lake and trees….

OR the countless number of treasured friends that I have met and shared stories, meals, tents, hugs, laughter, tears and memories…

OR meeting my husband and dear friends at camp, who I still see 40 years later….

OR getting goosebumps and squealing for joy as we drive through the camp gates and the tears and silence as we leave…

So I guess the story I would tell is the one where I grew up in this place, my home away from home, surrounded by the beauty of nature, compassion, understanding, laughter, tears and unconditional love.

Thanks so much for sharing Laurie!

And if you’ve read Laurie’s story and are inspired to share, send an email to and help us celebrate 50 magnificent summers at Hart Lake!

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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