Anything for Camp

I was the quintessential Canadian girl of the 80’s.  I was a Girl Guide.  Well, I had been a dutiful Brownie…and signed up for Guides each year for one reason only: a week in the summer at Doe Lake Girl Guide Camp.  For that privilege I would go to as many meetings as I had to, sporting a blue dress, sash, coin purse and scarf (firmly tied in a square knot, of course).   Doe Lake was only three hours from home, but for a nerdy, arthritic kid like me, it was Magic. And I am ever grateful.

Packing was part of the adventure.  Eight pairs of underwear, socks, pants, sweaters and the Girl Guide camp uniforms your mother had dutifully ironed your name tag into; all packed into the giant hockey bag liberated from storage to store all your worldly possessions.  Camp hat ready for new badges and crafts. Carefully water-proofed bed roll, the knots tied just so. There were rumours that the leaders would throw your bed roll into the lake if it wasn’t tied right!  Back then we had just an air mattress to sleep on and had to pump the thing up with a funny little foot pump that took forever.  And inevitably once or twice during the week you’d wake up on the hard platform, the mattress having lost all of its air during the night.

But, oh, those camp sites were the most beautiful thing I’d had ever seen.  They had big white canvas tents on wooden platforms.  The five other girls assigned to your tent would become your new best friends… for the week, anyway.

And what a week!  Vying for that oh-so-coveted piece of white gimp that, when hung around your neck, meant you could swim well enough to have access to the deep part of the lake and could use the canoes.  Singing campfire songs long into the night.  Collecting ferns to spread over the ‘spit pit’…and then having the courage to brush your teeth there after dark.  Listening to the coolest women – with even cooler camp names, like ‘Kit’ – tell you all about astronomy, from inside the dining hall using the icing off a camper’s birthday cake to illustrate the constellations on the wall when the sleep-out was rained out.  Making heart-wrenching choices between badges, stuffed squirrels and chips at Tuck. Learning how to build shelters. Hearing ghost stories on that canoe trip over to the island.

Every girl should get to go to camp for a week. At least once in her life. Because it makes her a better woman, a better Canadian.  And because “on my honour, I will try” is a good motto to have written on your heart.

~Sherrie “Boots” Charter (Yep, I was a Guider for many years once I grew taller (I won’t say “grew up”; not sure I’ve done that yet), taking many girls back to camp with me.  I hope they had as much fun as I did (rain and shine), and that they learned at least half as much from me as I did from them.)

P.S. If you don’t currently support Girl Guides of Canada, at least go buy a coffee at Tim Horton’s on their Camp Day.  Help send a kid to camp…help change the future.




A new start…to whet your whistles…not sure where this one is going yet…

The winter twilight had painted the snowy hills a murky mauve. The wind rustled through the branches of the pines. Across the highway, a lone Christmas tree gleamed, the only colour left in the darkening world.

Grace stood panting at the top of the hill, sled in hand. Her brother and sister had abandoned her out here in the cold and had gone back inside, lured by the smell of the turkey dinner. Her mother had not yet come out to collect her. She probably hasn’t even noticed, she thought. I’m always the last one she thinks of.

Tired, she flopped to her knees in the snow and absently sucked on the little snowballs stuck to her mittens. She’d wanted her siblings to help her build a ramp for the sled. It was perfect packing snow and she was sure that with the right momentum and angle of approach they could get some serious air. I wonder, she thought, what would happen if I never went back inside? I wouldn’t get to open my gifts…but then, they’re probably all socks anyway. She doubted her parents were going to give her the chemistry set she’d asked for. Little girls aren’t supposed to play with acid, her father kept telling her. Sheesh. How was she supposed to prove her theories without the right equipment?

Continue reading “A new start…to whet your whistles…not sure where this one is going yet…”

Red Plastic Skis of Doom

The yard stretched out before me, a barren wasteland of snow and ice. Shadows were gathering in the late afternoon gloaming beneath low grey clouds laden with snow. Tears freezing on my cheeks, I let out another wail.


No good. I could see the flickering of the TV in the living room and knew that Daddy was watching Buck Rogers from his yellow recliner. I couldn’t see her, but figured that Mummy must be upstairs with the baby. They were all warm and dry inside and couldn’t hear me. Continue reading “Red Plastic Skis of Doom”

Workshop Flash Fiction – Peter and The Plan

Peter stood frozen, his sock clad toes curling against the linoleum. He could hear the hum of the refrigerator and the laugh track of the TV in the living room. Everything else was quiet. No footsteps. But he better not breathe just yet.

He snuck a peek at Bobby. Bobby had also frozen to the spot, his eyes wide and his arm still reaching forward. It looked like he wasn’t breathing either. Bobby’s eyes drifted towards Peter’s as a drop of snot dripped from his nose. Bobby didn’t even move to wipe it away – they were both too scared to move another muscle. Continue reading “Workshop Flash Fiction – Peter and The Plan”