Memories of a Twin Fir Camper

On the occasion of Jean Carmichael’s 90th Birthday 2 May 2003


lac Sarrazin

Dear Jean,

I have known you many years going all the way back to Twin Fir Camp. It was a great lesson in my life and I have fond memories of many wonderful summer days there.

I remember Morning Councils at the top of the hill under the trees looking out at the lake. They were inspirational although I doubt if I ever told anyone that. We sang alot and I enjoyed those hours singing whether they were outside or in the lodge on a rainy day.

I remember Hike Day with a bag lunch marching off to some special place – a waterfall, a woodsy area. The wood of the hidden deer totally captured my imagination and I have carried that concept with me all these years…I still remember the quiet wood, the filtered sunlight, the damp moss underfoot and early in the season those lovely Indian Pipe hiding behind a rotten log. I remember wild strawberries growing on the hill and later Indian Paint Brush and daisies gracing the landscape with their wild beauty.

I remember the climb from Intermediate and Senior camp to the Dining Hall. I could never seem to make those large steps fit a pattern of movement that seemed to me to an efficient use of energy…Years later when I had my own cabin in the woods I would use the same step construction idea to get us to and from the shore more easily.

1945 John,Fay,Carol

1945 Rowboat on the beach

I remember hot hot days when the waterfront became the focus of the afternoon. In and out of the water all afternoon. What a great way to while away the hot hours of the day.

I remember the Hillside Chapel and the climb to get there. I remember the ruggedness of it, and the dappled shade that bathed the assembled group. I don’t remember much of what was said or done at the service but the atmosphere left a profound impression on me.

I remember Bon Fires on the beach – big fires I thought at the time. There was a magic in that blaze as I sat and watched the lake at sunset through the flames of the fire.

I remember Laundry Day. I now wonder if anything really got clean but we tried and learned as we went along. After all the washing I remember the camp became a clothesline for socks, underwear, shorts, shirts, etc.

I remember La Petite Suisse. I loved that view be it a sunny day or overcast. I remember the rumble of the thunder rolling across the hills noisily interrupting a perfectly beautiful day. I have a picture which I took one time on a cookout on La Petite Suisse which your mother attended. She looked very spry in a big straw hat.

I remember a rain overnight and the retreat to the cabin across the lake. Somehow or other the verandah floor got awfully hard about 3 am as the rain trickled down and the air grew damper by the minute.


1945 Pump in center of camp

I remember basin baths in the fireplace end of the dining room when it was too cold to swim. Looking back on the experience, I wonder if any of us really got any cleaner. I remember rubber boots on rainy days. I remember the squeaky pump where we fetched water for the cabin’s use. I remember honing my canoeing skills under the careful eye of an interested counselor. Those skills have served me well all these years.

And who could continue without reference to the end of camp banquet. It was a Big Thing in a camper’s life. As I look back on it I think the themes were well chosen and presented. I am sure they carried other campers as they did me into a new realm of imagination and adventure.

I remember the tennis courts, the archery range and softball in the parking lot all of which I enjoyed. I made some good friends at Twin Fir camp and my family said I talked camp all year long. I only know that summer camp for me was the highlight of those growing up years. I learned, grew, and in all the years since I am still deeply appreciative of the happy times and growing up lessons I learned there.

Again, Jean, may this birthday milestone be your best ever.

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