I will never get a ten year paddle (or so I thought)

This year will be my tenth year at Camp Ouareau.

Can you believe it? I certainly can't, and 17 year old me definitely didn't.

I remember sitting on the wooden floor ("where thousands have sat before you!") of the Lodge as a junior counsellor and seeing someone or other receiving their 10 year paddles, all teary-eyed and emotional. 

The lodge

There is no way I will last that long, I thought.

Indeed, I barely thought I would make it through the summer. I was already covered with mosquito bites (citronella does not really do it for me), and my first night stoop-sitting* had ended with me (I kid you not) peeing in my pants two steps away from the Senior washroom.

*(Stoop-sitting means sitting on the stoop of the cabin or tents of your campers to make sure they fall asleep on the first few nights. It's usually quite lovely. Except in that particular case of course.)

And yet! Here I am.

Not only did I survive, but I thrived. Every year I made sure to try something new...

  • Year one: climb all the way to the top of the climbing wall.

It took 40 minutes and the constant coaxing and patience of Lindsay, our Head of Climbing, who was belaying me ("Are you sure you can't hold me tighter. I feel like you could be holding me tighter!")

  • Year three: led Dekopi taps.

"Where have all the flowers gone" has never (and will hopefully never again) know such a rendition as the one we sang that night. I was however incredibly gratified and touched when a small Dekopi complimented our 'original' take on the song the next morning.

  • Year nine: CIT canoe trip.

I was shamefully caught trying to paddle with my lifejacket untied (I thought that's what the cool kids did!), tipped a docked canoe and fell in the water with my dry clothes on, and portaged my own way through the brambles, with the help of a CIT whom I'd known since she was 8 years old.

Camp is now firmly part of whom I am and, even though 17 year old me would probably laugh at me a little, I will proudly get a little teary-eyed when I finally get my 10 year paddle, on a stage where thousands of girls have gone before me, this summer.


About the author: Émilie's been working at camp since 2006 and is currently the media coordinator at the Montreal Ouareau Office. She loves singing really loudly on her bicycle and brushing her hair before she goes to sleep. She's also really enjoying speaking of herself in the third person.