As a youngster, I never attended camp. If I could turn the clock back this would be one of my wishes. However, I am most fortunate because my experience with camp comes at a time when our two children are now adults with families of their own.
For a while now, I’ve been teaching and certifying the Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association canoeing and kayaking program, at all levels. I am passionate about this activity and appreciate any chance to be able to promote and improve paddling skills when I have the opportunity. Retired from the health care field, I have been blessed with good health, a loving and supportive wife, 2 adult children and the most beautiful woman in the world, my 8½-year-old granddaughter.
Over the years, I have attended many camps in my capacity as a paddling instructor. I have even had the opportunity to “put in” a little volunteer time. Without exception, camp is one of the most positive places anywhere. When I am onsite, one of the many benefits is that I get to observe the day-to-day experiences of the camp staff and campers alike. For the most part, this camp activity is fun, especially when I get to be involved at the waterfront. Last fall I attended the Alumni weekend and was treated to an unexpected surprise.
Each year at camp, I get to say good-bye to many of the senior group who will not be returning. It is an emotional time as they are moving on. This past fall, a group that I had previously taught, returned for the Alumuni weekend. On the Sunday morning, one of the group asked if I would like to join them for a paddle. One of those magic moments occurred when we “rafted up” and shared memories, caught up on present happenings and hopes for the future. I am very proud of all of them, as they are amazing. I don’t know if we will ever see each other again but my heart goes with them.
I am most fortunate as I get to see young people develop in a healthy atmosphere where, dignity, respect, inclusion, compassion and responsibility are the core values. Camp is this place.