to the Summer Camp issue. Though more by chance than
planning our two central stories focus on young men
getting their first real taste of northern canoeing
adventures. One had disastrous results, the other
indelible, wonderful memories.
many, my own canoeing experiences began at a classic
summer retreat – Camp Temagami some six hours north of
Toronto. It was a premier camp in its day with a large
tripping program and a rich history dating from 1903.
Nestled on two islands connected by a bridge, it was a
busy hive of boy activity. The sister camp, Metagami, was
down the lake.
Temagami unfortunately folded in 1972 though the name has
been revived recently by a new camp in the same lake, it
carries no link to its illustrious past
spent three summers in the early 1960s at Camp Temagami
and they were wonderful times. The “Bay” trip was the
big one everyone talked about – done by the Seniors who
headed north of steel to James Bay. Heady stuff. Though I
was too young to get in on that.
images are strong; the sloping canoe dock, the tripping
shed run by large suspender-clad Russ, the wooden crates
of dried apples, our silver and blue wood-canvas canoes
(probably Chestnuts), the gunwale-banging salute we
would give camp when we returned from a trip, the
councillors' cabin with its off-limits status and
forbidden material; all these images are settled into my
photographic subconscious – and remain there – to
occasionally be peeled off from the well compressed
stack as they are being now.
camps are a place to set a risk standard and a tone that
you will carry throughout your life. It is not a time to
challenge death, whether through foolish or foolhardy
experiences or taking risks sensible people would deem
have another reawakening with boys’ summer camps in my
future. My six year-old son, Tom, who has not done much
paddling yet, has a date in his future with a good boys
camp in a few years. They will be his memories to be
made, and I will make sure they are safe ones. At least
as safe as common sense and respect allow.