by John Dinner, Staff 1998-2001, Currently a member of the Board of Directors, Vice Chair

For somewhere around 11 consecutive summers, my mom would inevitably ask me if I was interested in going to camp sometime in the summer. Not any one particular camp, just camp in general. She thought I’d love it, and would tell me brief stories about her time lifeguarding at “her” camp. But “her”camp held no connection for me, and seeing as we were now living on the other side of the country, it just never took. So you can imagine her surprise, and elation, when I told her sometime in late spring of 1998 that I was off to Camp Big Canoe to be a counsellor. At 22.

This is where I could then go on to produce at least 50 stories of Camp Big Canoe all by myself, but this one is about mom being right. And was she ever.

She was right that I would love it. She was right that it would allow me to see myself, and others, with authenticity. But mostly she was right when she told me that camp folks demonstrate a generousity of spirit that is infectious, and playful.

This became apparent to me in my early days as a nervous camp counsellor returning from my first ever three night canoe trip where I learned the value of counting back from 19 (to quell fears, build anticipation, generally be able to face any challenge with a bit of enthusiasm to name a few) and the confidence to be a leader.

Despite the separation by a few hundred kilometres, or possible because of it, my mom was also swimming in enthusiasm. So much so, that 11 summers of disappointment (for lack of a better term), were released into her first ever camp care package. What began as a letter with some twizzlers thrown in, soon became a box, which soon became an excuse to drive up to camp to deliver the largest care package in this history of Camp Big Canoe (I’m not sure if that’s even remotely true, but it is to me). Much to her chagrin (I imagine) she arrived at camp only to learn I was out on trip, and therefore had to leave the care package. Fortunately for me, the care package had multiplied in size to match her enthusiasm, as she also left instructions for others to enjoy its contents as there was certainly more than enough for everyone to enjoy!

Sure enough, I was greeted with unusual enthusiasm upon my return. This enthusiasm wasn’t just for my return, but for the anticipated reaction of this 22 year old first time counsellor getting his first care package from his mom. I still got a letter of course, and a rather large, rather empty box. In the letter she mentioned how envious she was not just that I was finally getting to be at camp, but Camp Big Canoe specifically. She’d only been there once, and only briefly at that she acknowledged, but there was something special about it! She also let it be known in the letter that she had given me, her 22 year old son, enough to share with others because sharing is what people do. And sharing good fortune with those around, well that just multiplies good fortune.

I may have missed out on some wine gums or whatever, but I did get my twizzlers and a lifetime of memories filled with the good people of Camp Big Canoe who “shared” the contents of my first ever camp care package. Good fortune multiplied. Thanks Mom. You were right. About it all.



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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