What Happens at Summer Camp….

What do you get when you take 100 young professionals, a few stocked coolers and an unlimited supply of house music and put them all on a secluded, picturesque island in Muskoka for a weekend? The makings for a really great blog post, that’s what. Also maybe a reality show. Or the sequel to Shark Night 3D.

It was the perfect summer vacation……

I just took that to a really dark place, didn’t I? Moving on.

Since moving to Toronto, I’ve been introduced to a group of friends who I would describe as “active fun-seekers”. Unlike my prudish, brooding self who likes to stay home and look at old movie stubs on the weekends, these guys are all about planning their next incredibly fun, outrageous adventures. If they’re not jetting off for ski weekends in Mont Tremblant or Vail, Colorado, they’re planning all-day beach parties on Toronto Island, or themed fundraising galas. The majority are lawyers, accountants, MBA’s and other professionals who like to work hard and play hard, and firmly believe that if you’re not wearing a costume, then you’re not having a good time.

For their latest project (enticingly dubbed “Summer Camp for Adults”) they rented out an entire children’s summer camp about 2 hours north of Toronto and invited over 100 friends to attend. Each of us paid a fee that covered the cost of transportation (by schoolbus of course), meals, and lodging for the weekend. Sounds sort of epic, right?

I’ll admit that I was a little wary of how I would fare with the whole “camping” thing. I never went camping as a kid, mostly because my mother despised it. Her war-veteran father had been convinced that spending time close to nature helped “put hair on your chest”, and forced my mother and her 5 siblings to spend a portion of each summer in the woods of Nova Scotia, “roughing it”. Because of this, she vowed never to put her own children through that same hell.

Perhaps because it had taken on a bit of a forbidden fruit element, I longed for the camping experience as a child. I remember having romanticized notions of what a family camping trip might be like. My siblings and I would roast hot dogs and make each other daisy-chain headbands while my dad regaled us all with local ghost stories. Then we’d all sing Kumbaya and go to sleep in our giant, 7-person tent. It would be just like in The Parent Trap.

One summer, I finally convinced my mother to let me go to sleep-away camp. I was 13, painfully awkward, and still firmly within the grasp of that unforgiving b*tch they call “puberty”. But nevertheless, I believed that this was going to be the best summer of my life. I could hardly contain my excitement about all the friendship bracelets I was going to make.  And the boys! So many boys to have “crushes” on! Or at least that’s what my YM magazines told me.  Needless to say, it was not exactly the summer I had imagined. 13 year olds can be a vicious bunch, and I struggled to fit in amongst a group who had been attending camp together for years. Also, somehow, the fact that this camp had a strong, Presbyterian mandate eluded both my devoutly  Roman Catholic mother and I… and when I came home singing “Ezekiel saw a wheel a rolling” and talking non-stop about some dude named “Calvin”, well, let’s just say that was the end of that.

We didn’t make this craft. But I wish we had.

But after a 13 year hiatus, I figured it was time to give camping another shot. A few friends and I opted to make the drive to Muskoka, rather than take the commissioned school bus,  but unfortunately didn’t leave the city until 4pm. AKA: Traffic Armageddon O’Clock. The drive, which should have taken approximately 2.5 hours, took us almost 6. We arrived at 10pm, in pitch darkness, and began unloading our stuff onto the dock, where we were to be transported to camp by a short boat ride.

The fact that I was a camping novice became immediately apparent when I looked around at what everyone else had packed.  Instead of a practical, and travel friendly sleeping bag, I had chosen to bring  a duvet and 400 thread count sheets. Rather than Bud Light Lime and local Ontario craft beer, I brought Rose. Although the darkness prohibited me from seeing the contents of the other campers rucksacks, I was quite certain they didn’t include a curling iron, half the contents of the Holt Renfrew beauty counter, and enough clothing to last the entire summer.  My foray into camping was beginning to look about as promising as Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s “cut the waist” challenge.

I quietly shoved my two blackberry devices out of view and under the copies of US Weekly in my designer handbag and focused instead on the faint noise of motor approaching in the distance. What appeared to be a glorified canoe pulled up to the dock, and we were met by an enthusiastic young man named Daniel wearing nothing but a smile and a camouflage Morphsuit. “Welcome to Camp Tamawkwa!” he said.

So this was to be our captain. Our good-times Sherpa, if you will. Meh. I thought. He’ll do.

I struggled to load each of my bags onto the boat, while  saying a silent prayer to the Saint of $17 Eyeshadows that all of my MAC would make it across alive.

Not Daniel. But this is what he looked like. Actually, it could be Daniel. Who knows what’s going on under there.

Now let me just say that being on a boat in the middle of the night in total darkness is not my idea of a good time. Although I’m sure the scenery was beautiful, I did my best to block it out, along with the scary noises and shadows, and focused instead on Daniel’s Morphsuit. How did he get into that thing? And why did he need to be in camouflage? Was he planning to hijack a pirate ship after this? Unfortunately, Morphsuit Daniel’s role of serenity began to unravel when he started regaling us with tales of “Axe-Man Jack”, the Axe Wielding, infamous ghost of the island. Great. Not only did I have foam mattresses and outdoor showers to contend with, now I had to deal with an axe-murderer too? What was I going to do if he approached me, smother him with my duvet??

Luckily we soon heard the sound of house music and the glow of mini lights from a distance.  The night’s planned festivities,  a “grade 8 dance”, was already in full swing. “The party’s been going on for a while,” said Daniel. “I’ll take you to your cabins so you can get your costumes on and join the others.”

We looked at each other blankly.

“Wait…” he said, “You did bring costumes, right?”

Things, it seemed, were about to get interesting.

Stay tuned for part two…………….

Question of the Day: Did you go to Summer Camp as a kid?

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18 thoughts on “What Happens at Summer Camp….

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  1. I just wrote about my only camping experience. If you really care to know anything about it then people can read that. If they don’t care then we can pretend I don’t exist.

    I imagine all Canadians are very outdoorsy. This basing comes only from Janice (Cafe) who seems to live in a kayak. Do you guys even have chairs in Canada? You’re always on the move.

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    1. Sorry to disappoint but,,most of us are all lazy bums,,and the chairs we favour in the summer are called Muskoka Chairs (google it dude),,and in the winter we favour bleachers in arena’s whilst watching our favourite sport 🙂
      Drinking beer of course.

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    2. I will head on over to check it out! Popular opinion would tell you that we are indeed, outdoorsy and friendly and say things like “aboot”… and yes, Janice does live in a kayak. But you are much more likely to find this girl inside watching her PVR or running on a treadmill when it’s perfectly nice outside than engaging in much outdoor activity.. haha

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  2. I went once. Up near where you went, the place is called Muskoka Woods (http://muskokawoods.com) it’s on Lake Rosseau. The only reason I got to go was because it was paid by the church. These places are super expensive and my parents could never afford to send me. I had a blast!!

    However,,I abhor real camping,,with sleeping in tents, cooking over a fire, and hanging your food in the tree’s to keep animals at bay. I much rather going to my family’s cottage,,and sleeping in a comfy bed,,and having indoor washroom facilities.

    I can’t wait for part 2,,,I laughed really hard about your drive up Hwy 400,,especially when you said you left at 4!!! The traffic is bumper to bumper here in Barrie as early as 11 am here on Fridays,,,I can’t even imagine what it’s like in T.O!

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    1. me too! I love cottages- as long as there are beds and running water and its clean!! haha
      The drive was nightmarish!! Never again will we make that mistake.

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  3. Ha, you are such a city girl! I used to go camping all the time in the scouts.

    To be honest, a rave camp sounds like it would be great fun, especially if it was out on an island somewhere…!

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  4. I want your friends (I think, lets wait till after part II to decide) and I don’t blame you for not knowing what to pack, I haven’t been camping in over 10 years, blame the lack of adventurous friends or the fact that I am a city girl. What ever it is, I look forward to part II 😀

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    1. haha what do you think now that you’ve read part two?? City girl solidarity up in here… I don’t think I’ll be camping again for another 10 years! haha

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      1. I think I’ll still take your friends, maybe for a few weekends out of the year though. Camping is its own beast and I don’t think I am ready to tackle it. You get cool points in my book for at least giving it a shot! 🙂

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  5. I LOVED this post! I used to go to a bible camp, one week a summer when I was 9-14 years old. I loved it tho. My Auntie was the head cook & it was wooden cabins & tons of fun. Best part was it was a ranch camp so we always rode horses & when I got old enough I did the camp option that allowed me to work with the horses all day long!
    Also, I LOVE roughing it. Give me a tent, some cast iron pots & pans & I’ll be happier than a pig in shit! Food tastes better, the beer tastes better & the sleep is ten times more refreshing than anywhere I’ve slept before. BUT that is what I grew up with. If I could spend my entire summer camping, I would. 🙂
    I do have to laugh at the amount of makeup you brought along, because as much as I love roughing it, I still take all that “girly” stuff with me!

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    1. Good for you! You are probably every man’s dream… all low maintenance and whatnot. Good to know you still keep your girly side though. Can you teach me your ways?? haha

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