School arranged a week long camping trip for the class of ’73. I was a teenager at the time and had not been away from home. I was excited and anxious to finally be part of a group that could share stories experienced together. The trip was an opportunity for teenagers to spend time in the wilderness, no parents in sight from miles around at Camp “I don’t know.” Our counselor Mrs.Thompson supervised us to the Northern Ontario campsite.
Arriving late that afternoon, Mrs.Thompson and the camp counselor met with us for a brief information session explaining the week’s activities and campsite rules. The girls and I were assigned to a spartan cabin furnished with bunk beds, table and chairs. The boys however, ended up roughing it, they setup tents close to our cabin.
We paired up with each other, my friend chose the lower bunk; the first night at camp we made ourselves comfortable. It didn’t take me long to hurt myself; I attempted to climb to the top bunk, I slipped and fell to the floor injuring my foot: I saw stars–ouch! It was painful to remove my shoe Oh no! I fractured my toe! Stupid me–I wore dress shoes; wrong footwear for camping that’s for sure! As I showed Mrs.Thompson my injury explaining what had happened, as she examined me, she said “which toe hurts? they all look fractured to me”. As a child I always preferred roomy shoes, my toes spread out as they grew. Well, the camp nurse bandaged up my toes and advised me to rest for the day. That first day I can truthfully say was rather uneventful for me. For the remainder of the trip I ended up limping..no fun that’s for sure!
Anyway, the first night the boys scared us out of our beds; they made noises outside the cabin; whipping a water hose around among the dried leaves it sounded like a snake or someone lurking outside. You could hear the boys snickering as they ran back to their tents waking a group of us in the cabin screaming like a pack of banshees; taking a long time to return to our beds.
The next day we hiked the rough terrain studying nature, wild flora, fauna, trees, birds and more. That night the boys learned how to build a campfire and we toasted marshmallows while singing campfire songs. Later that week, under the supervision of Mrs.Thompson, we all went swimming in a nearby lake and were taught some basic first aid. The following the day was warm and sunny, we went for a long hayride, made crafts from hay, sticks and stones we had collected along the way. That afternoon we had lunch at a picnic site near the river. The boys went exploring–climbing nearby trees to view the riverbank . A half an hour later the boys ran back to the site telling us about a raccoon and its family they saw while climbing the trees.
As we arrived back to camp “I don’t know” a native Indian member and his family were waiting near the totem pole to give us a history lesson; how each section was carved and painted representing ancestral and religious worship. That night we all packed up, had one last marshmallow toasting before we headed back to reality. I walked home dragging my bag of stuff behind me with a tiresome limp; mom greeted me at the door exclaiming “what happened to you?” I ended up staying home from school the next day. Every once in awhile as I take out the beaded necklace souvenir; memories come flooding back of the first camping experience from Camp “I don’t know”. And ever since then I wear proper shoes for camping!