A Winter Camp Story

It all starts with an official Storm Warning

By Scouter Liam Morland, March 1998

I was standing in the Ranger’s Cabin at Camp Manitou near Burlington, Ontario checking in for a weekend camp with the Scouts. The weather radio enunciated, "Environment Canada has upgraded the storm watch to a storm warning." Looking out the window, I couldn’t blame them. Already several centimetres of snow had fallen and more was coming down fast, the snow sparkling as it passed under the lights outside the cabin.

After getting a site map and a few directions, I drove the gear van to the parking area. The Scouts started hauling the gear up to the campsite nestled in a beautiful stand of red pine. Once we had taken the first load up to out site, Scouter Brendan had finally arrived. Shaking off the teasing of the Scouts ("Scouter Brendan got lost again!"), everyone headed up to the site with the rest of the gear to set up tents and to get the hot chocolate on.

Scouter Ted went to get some water and Scouter Brendan got a stove fired up to heat up some of Brendan's Homemade Pickled Herring Chowder. It was to die for. I have never tasted better soup of any kind in my life. And the best part was that the Scouts didn't like it much, so there was more for us ("Why didn't you tell me there were mushrooms in it! Ewwww!").

Under the shelter of the pines there was little wind, but now and then a gust might blow a bunch of snow off of the trees. One quickly learned the value of a hat even though it was warm enough for only a headband.

The Scouts went to bed early, but not to sleep. Their voices bubbled long into the night.

The next morning was crisp, with snow blowing on gentle winds. After trying to light huge frozen logs with matches for several minutes, the Scouts decided to get some of the abundant small dead branches to use as kindling. The fire warmed hands, brought cheer, and melted boots.

Soon it was time to depart for the Crawford lake to visit the reconstructed Native village. The three members of Tiger Patrol swore up and down that they didn't need to pack a lunch; they would just eat a big dinner. The four in Cobra Patrol took turns carrying the backpack which held their lunches.

We headed out on to the Bruce Trail and hiked to some small caves where we spent a few minutes before carrying on to our destination. After about an hour of hiking through what was now a blizzard, we arrived at the far side of Crawford Lake and began hiking around on the board walk to the interpretive centre. One the way, we stopped to sample some maple sap in the sap buckets along the trail.

Once inside the interpretive centre, we had our lunches. Everyone, that is, except the now-hungry Tiger Patrol. They were able to scavenge a few bits a food from others, but they seem to have changed their food plans for the next hike.

The tour guide in the interpretive centre came down to tell us that they would love to take us on a tour of the native village, seeing as we were the only people to brave the blizzard and visit that day. So after lunch we were taken up to the village were we looked around the rebuilt long-houses and heard native stories. We returned to the interpretive centre for some traditional corn bread with maple syrup before heading back to camp.

Once at camp, the late night and the hike caught up with everyone. Dinner was early followed with the Scouts retiring to their tents. I was surprised by Cobra Patrol's request that I come into their tent and play my guitar and tell stories (they usually want to chop up my guitar for kindling).

I sang a few songs and told a few stories, then they wanted to know about the cosmos. I told them of the 15 billion year history of the universe and wished them happy 10 billionth birthday. The atoms that make up all of our bodies were fused from hydrogen in red giant stars about that long ago. I told them of how on a clear dark night one can see about as many stars as there are grains of sand in a handful, but how there are more stars in the universe then there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the entire world. They drifted off to sleep with dreams of cosmic proportion.

I was awakened a couple of hours later as Corey came to my tent feeling sick. Corey had thought that "Drink lots to keep from getting dehydrated" meant drink lots of Coke. Corey was dizzy and sick to the stomach, but this cleared up with a drink of good, clear water. The rest of the night was peaceful.

It was a sunny Sunday. The walk out of the campsite was punctuated with the odd snowball fight and getting the van unstuck from the fresh snow that was now deep on the road. A good camp it was, storm warning and all.