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Back from Camp - Update

In this week's column I overlooked mentioning the astounding amount of work that was done getting Camp ready for the summer. As you may recall, Camp McDougall was his with a microburst in late May.

In this week's column I overlooked mentioning the astounding amount of work that was done getting Camp ready for the summer. As you may recall, Camp McDougall was his with a microburst in late May. 

Thirty-three trees were uprooted or broken, including several which caused damaged to various buildings.

A hearty "THANK-YOU" goes to the contractors and volunteers who rallied together to affect repairs and get the site cleaned-up in time for the start of Camp.

At this time we are still in, uh... "discussion" with the insurance company, trying to get all of our expenses reimbursed. We had been approaching the start of the season with a rather healthy bank balance, but expenses for the clean-up and related work ate through that quite quickly.

One bright note is that Camp McDougall has been selected as the recipient charity for the Ontario Professional Engineer's Association annual golf tournament, being held this year at the Sault Ste Marie Golf and Country Club.

If you would like to help Camp McDougall, we would welcome volunteers to assist with the tournament, and invite glfers to register for this tournament. More details and and downloadable registration form are available by following this link...


​Originally posted 17 August 2013

This past week I was at Camp McDougall for the Junior Arts Camp. It was a BLAST.

I had been looking forward to this week at Camp all year, and especially all summer.

I had a triple roll: I Directed the Arts component of the Camp, , I led the Drama Sessions, and I was Chaplain.

Many of my friends thought this would be a nice vacation for me. “Oh, you’re going out to Camp McDougall? That will be a nice break for you!” 

I’m sure they meant well.

In truth, it was a break, of sorts. It was a break from the City. It was a break from the work-day routine, and from the traffic and the bad, careless drivers.

But it wasn’t a vacation, by any means.

We had 27 Campers — 25 girls, and 2 boys, ages 9 thru 11. Plus, for the first and last nights we had a dozen Intermediate (age 12-14) Out-trippers on site. Relaxing? Nope.

But it was FUN. And, it was very good both for my soul, and for my peace of mind — or was that that my mind was in pieces? Either way, It was an amazing week.

Spending a week with 27 children really puts life into perspective.

I mentioned that I led the Drama sessions, but those of you who have raised children of your own, or are blessed with grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, know that there is always plenty of “drama.”

I lost track of how many times I would listen to a “She said…” or “…and then she…” story, or an account of some other momentary crisis.

Now, I would never minimize the significance of these events for a child. To a child these truly ARE crises. This is where they learn that, despite our best efforts, life just isn’t always fair, and that people — even the best of friends — don’t always get along.

It is how they develop coping skills.

I do my best in these situations to explain that sometimes things just don’t always go our way; sometimes we have to compromise; sometimes we just have to give in; and sometimes we just need to take a break.

You’ll be pleased to hear that no friendships ended at Camp, this week.

Children do not have the facility to problem-solve to any great extent; their world is a bubble that surrounds them at arm’s-length.

There are a few unique individuals who do empathize with their peers and others, but mostly theirs is a binary world — yes or no, right or wrong, do or don't.

Really, wouldn’t  you like for your own life to be that simple? (I would.)

They will learn, over time. Hopefully it won’t take too long, and the lessons won’t be to painful for them.

But we can also learn from the young people now.

How often have you said to a child, “Well, it’s pretty complicated. You might not understand.” — or — “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

Ever ask yourself WHY things have to be so complicated? (Hmm... that sounds like a song.)

Yes, we all need to grow-up and grow into our adult selves, but… there is just something so encouraging, indeed even empowering and uplifting about seeing the world through the eyes of  a child, isn’t there?

The wide-eyed wonder, the fascination and curiosity… that’s something we shouldn’t ever abandon, nor should we discourage it in our young people.

On our last day together, we do “Warm Fuzzies” — we tape a piece of paper to everyone’s back, then allow them to write a message (a nice message) on each other’s sheet. 

I always try to wait until I get home from Camp to read the comments on my sheet. I am always touched by their comments: how much they enjoyed the sessions I led, and how much they enjoyed Camp.

I find it difficult leaving Camp.

Along with the revitalizing time with the kids, there is a tranquility that permeates even the loudest, most chaotic activities at Camp, but is especially keen in those quiet moments at the beginning and the end of the day.

I would get up in the morning, before the ‘wake-up’ bell, stop into the kitchen to say “hello” to the cook, pour myself a coffee and walk out to the edge of the beach. Looking out at the reflection of the island across the bay, the sun sparkling on the lightly-rippling water, hearing only the light breeze in the tress and the call of seagulls and geese, is a wonderful way to start a morning.

At night, after the campers are in bed, some of the staff would gather at the campfire and chat, look up at the stars and watch the occasional bat flutter by overhead, hearing nothing but a light rustling of the wind in the trees and the chirping of frogs and crickets, and just revel in the peacefulness.

And as the staff make their way back to their cabins I would stop and look out over the bay, again… entranced by the ribbon of moonlight reflected on the water, the scent of wood smoke still hanging in the air.

I took a break from writing this to step outside — it’s just ten o’clock, now — and spent a few minutes looking up to the sky and listening. Although its the same moon, the sky looks foreign.

The sky isn’t black, and there are far fewer stars. 

And the sounds... I can hear traffic on Second Line, nearly a kilometre away, and further in the distance but just as loud, or louder, is the constant rumble of the steel plant.

Even during the day on Saturday, I spent some time downtown at Clergue Park and at the Canal. While these parks are relaxing, with a view of ships drifting past, and a cool breeze coming in from the River, neither compares to being at Camp, or out in the country.

In all honesty, I’m not sure how much longer I can live in the City.

(As an aside, there are now more people living in cities than in rural areas, worldwide.)

Certainly I am not in a position to by some quiet, waterfront property in Central Algoma, nor really any property at all. It’s not that I hate the City, but… I am growing less comfortable with city living. I find that I am so much more at peace in the country.

Until then, I will make the best of my present situation.

I am leading worship or playing music at a number of rural United Churches over the next few weeks.

I have some driving lessons booked next week, including a couple of highway drives which will take me out to Bar River and back through Sylvan Valley along Highway 638.

I take any opportunity I can to go for a drive in the country.

For me, it is both calming and revitalizing.

Everyone should take a drive in the country, as often as possible.


But… that’s just my opinion.