Sends us your email and ideas

We have more than 300 emails for camp alumni, but over the last couple of years some of you have moved or changed your email accounts.

Please send your new email and emails of other alumni to so that we can update our list of camp alumni.

If you have an idea for a blog entry or wish to contribute other material like letters, recipes, diary entries, trip maps. . .send them my way.

If any links are broken, please tell me.

And don't be bashful. It's OK to comment. Really. It's OK.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Memories of camp

Donald Reilly- Published September 1, 2003 New Yorker

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Birch Bark Canoe Part II

Punch Jackson and Jim King ponder the canoe

During the recent 50th Trail reunion at Camp Stephens, Jim King asked me what I knew about the birch bark canoe hanging in Lount Lodge.

I told him what I thought I knew, and what Punch Jackson had told me a couple of years ago.

You can see my original post about the history of the canoe here.

King furrowed his brows. He's a man of few words even when he's talking, and said he wasn't so sure about what I had told him.

Little did I know.

A while later King cornered Jackson and said he wanted to talk about the canoe hanging in Lount Lodge.

He also wanted to see it. Up close. Les Robinson volunteered to get a ladder.

It took a few minutes, and King soon scampered up the ladder armed with my iPhone.

Here's the story.

In the late 1960s Jackson and Kirk Wipper (again, read the original blog) made a deal that the original birch bark canoe would find a home in the then fledgling Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterbrough, Ont.

In exchange, Camp Stephens would get another birch bark canoe and templates to make kayaks.

Enter Jim King. This was just before he took out the first six-week trip in 1969. More on that here.

King was dispatched to Ottawa to fetch the new canoe to bring back to Camp Stephens. He tied it to the roof of his parent's old car--he had inherited it--and drove back to Kenora.

It would eventually be hung in the dining hall when it stayed until it moved over to the lodge.

I always was thought the canoe was more of a decoration and was never meant to touch water.

Wrong. King says it was made to paddle.

A few people at camp even took it around the bay before it found its home in the dining hall.

King says the canoe he brought back from Ottawa had a special webbing that would allow it to be safely paddled. 

To be sure the canoe in the lodge was that same canoe, King went up the ladder to see if it indeed had that webbing.

As you can see from the pictures he took, it does.

It's the same canoe.

While it's in relatively good shape for a hand-made canoe pushing 50, King says there's evidence insects have gotten inside of it. The canoe will need some type of protection so that it sees another 50 years.

King also says he remembered paying $150 to bring the canoe to camp.

What he couldn't remember is whether he submitted a receipt to the Y for reimbursement.

Camp never did get the kayak templates.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Camp Stephens 50th Trail Anniversary 2013

Don Thompson shares these photos and words on the trail reunion at Camp Stephens on the Labour Day Weekend.

Just click the link below to watch his slideshow:

To download photos, click on "Browse Photos".

Don Thompson and Kate Paterson

Memories of Camp Stephens 50th Wilderness Trail Reunion August 29 – September 01, 2013

Although I never went out as a Trail member post 1963, I was on the Trail with Punch prior to that in 61-62. I started as a camper at Stephens in 1957 – or thereabouts as best as I can recall….where is Abes when you need him????

I was one of those old guys sitting on the chairs in the back of chapel Sunday morning (the floor is easy to get to – it’s just gotten harder to get up from over the years…..)

As we all enjoyed the discussions about legacy, I realized that although over the years the words of our experiences have changed, the common human experience that bonds us is still the same.

In my/our day, way back when, we were taught/shared the Emblem Rock trilogy of Spirit, Mind,  Body. We believed in the motto “I’m Third”, which means God is first, the other fellow is second, and I’m third. I think the current motto of Respect, Caring and Responsibility means the same.

What I saw, heard and felt is that all folks who “ventured down the trail” through the years gained and share the same common human experience. We all came to camp because we wanted to – or perhaps our parents wanted us to – for various reasons – but we all had fun, made friends, gained some self -confidence, enjoyed nature – and most of us wanted to come back again.

Those of us who came back and hit the trail enjoyed the added advantage of experiencing a closer connection with nature, a sense of survival and pioneering. We learned to trust one another (sometimes with life and death situations) as a special family unit that survived through thick and thin (and wind and water)…… we had to grow up a little on each trail trip. We gained in self-confidence. We grew stronger physically, mentally and emotionally (well most of us did..) we achieved a “right of passage” of sorts, that I still cannot adequately describe -  a wonderful sense of satisfaction and of belonging – maybe for me it was that I realized I am a meaningful part of society and the universe (wow this is getting scary and too heady for me…….. fun actually).

I was particularly impressed with the number of women at this great weekend event. I had not realized over the years how large and meaningful this program has become for the young women in our community. I commend, admire and respect you all – Tuck – you are a legacy unto yourself! Congratulations and Thanks for a job well done!

I noticed some similarities and changes with Punch and I too…….. we have both put on a few pounds and a little grey hair (changes). When we were on the trail Punch was always steering and I was in the bow. This weekend Punch was driving the car and I was riding shot gun – I was still listening and he was still doing all the talking…………(similarities). He is a great layer of seeds for the mind and food for thought.

Punch – my great friend for many decades – You too are a legacy. Thank you for your passion, dedication and love of camping and The Trail. What you have created will out- ive all of us. 

We will never see all the great good that will come to this world from what was …..simply your 17 year old dream. I am proud to know you and to enjoy our friendship – thank you for all you continue to do!

Don Thompson

Monday, September 2, 2013

So here's to you. . .

Ted Spear

So here's to you my ramblin' boy

May all your rambling bring you joy

So here's to you my ramblin' boy

May all your rambling bring you joy.

-- A Tom Paxton song sung by Ted Spear

This was just one of many special moments for me this past weekend at camp. 

There were others. Learning the truth about the canoe that hangs in Lount Lodge. A walk with an old friend to Chief's Point. The   rekindled memories. Watching people reconnect. Seeing all the little kids and their parents chasing after them. Garrett's video at banquet. The camp song after brunch the next day. Polar Bear. My list goes on.

Most of all I enjoyed the mix of young and old. Age and the years between didn't separate us. Nor should it.

Thanks for coming. Thanks for being there. 

Thanks to Camp Stephens for being such wonderful hosts. You nailed it guys.

Thanks to Tuck and Punch.

And Susan for her paintings.

Thanks to everyone who showed up at meetings over the past couple of years at the ANAF and the legislative building's boardroom. You guys nailed it, too.

Thanks to Grant, the glue that holds it all together.

The next event we can participate in happens Oct. 6 at the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg.

Of everything, it's the most important, and the reason we started this thing in the first place. See you soon.

-- Bruce