a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Jul, 2010

A bit about a new gig, and kids and camp

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Publishing/writing/career stuff

I am slowly making my way through an unbelievably vast mountain of laundry.

Last week I posted about the girls going to summer camp up in Temagami. What I didn’t mention was that we were joining them a few days after their departure. (I hate letting the world know our house is going to be empty. There is nothing really worth stealing here, but STILL. I don’t want to issue this kind of invitation. HELLO! OUR HOUSE IS EMPTY! COME STEAL MY UNDERWEAR AND OUR SMALL TELEVISION SET!)

You see, I am writing the script for a promotional video for this same camp. I wrote a draft of the script before we left, but we had to head up there for a few days to shoot the video, interview people, and collect more information. I was, and remain, thrilled and honoured to be trusted with this kind of project. And the people I have been working with have been amazing and supportive and helpful at every step along the way.

I was counting my blessings every day I was there. (No matter how many mosquito bites this job cost me.)  

We arrived on Wednesday, happy to escape the heat here in Ottawa. It was slightly cooler on Temagami Island. The woods and water offered some degree of protection from the oppressive weather. It’s about tall trees here; old rock, clear water and deep sunsets. It’s the kind of place that’s good for the soul.

It is breathtaking.

The View

Lake Temagami

Here’s a view from High Rock, which is the highest point on High Rock Island, and is right across the lake from camp:

The view from High Rock

Here’s another view:

The view from High Rock

We hardly saw the girls as they were so deeply entrenched in their camp routines. Every once in awhile they’d swing by for a hug and a chat. Suffice it to say they had a great time, and there were more than a few tears shed upon departure.

I’ve written about summer camp before, but the more people I spoke to and the longer I hung around I found myself becoming a bigger and bigger fan of the summer camp experience. Every kid should have the chance to go to summer camp.

This camp had kids between the ages of 6-17. The older campers were the ones who caught my interest the most. Teenagers everywhere suffer from such a bad rap, don’t they? They’re often portrayed as lazy, clueless, pot smokin’, delinquent ne’re-do-wells. Well, I had the pleasure of meeting of many young people, all of whom were friendly, thoughtful, smart, creative, energetic, and happy … all poised to become wonderful citizens of the world.

Camp is a rare opportunity for children to be their authentic selves, to untether themselves from peer pressure and social expectations that come hand in hand with city and school life. It’s a place where kids can really be kids. Where else would you find teenage boys and girls making up silly songs and wearing costumes? And belting out cheers while friends arrive back – stinking and absolutely filthy and radiantly happy – after multi-day canoe trips?

Camp Wabikon: prepping for a trip

Camp Wabikon: hoisting that canoe

We had some fantastic moments working, eating, playing with our adopted family. I am pretty sure I had the best ice-cream sandwich in my entire life. I had some excellent swims in the lake and even a rare power nap… all of which completely erases any negative effects brought about by the mosquitoes (my ankles are battle-scarred) and the giant spider we found silently sneaking around our cabin. Ugh.

The story of the week: We almost tripped over a fox. We were heading up to our cabin, Mark’s pocket flashlight carving out such a tiny swath of the immense woody darkness that we didn’t see the thing until we were nearly on top of it.

Oh my god, it’s a fox!

We slowly backtracked down the hill, the fox walking towards us, matching our steps one for one. I had just finished wondering if it was going to sample my exposed ankles when I decided I’d try to scare it by clapping my hands loudly. It worked.

Anyway, I wanted to give you a tiny photographic tour, so you can see a bit of the fun I got to have while I was visiting Camp Wabikon:

This was our cabin:

Camp Wabikon: our cabin

This is where Sarah stayed:

Camp Wabikon: camper cabins

… and their shoes and wet stuff:

Camp Wabikon: shoes in order

Other cabins looked like this:

Camp Wabikon: the cabins

I love how they are nestled in the woods!

We saw a loon and her baby:

Loon and baby loon

We took the boat to a shallow sandy inlet where little fish nibbled our toes (my foot looks oddly distorted in this shot):

little fishies nibbling toes

I got to try some archery. And I loved it. I might duplicate this set up in our backyard:

Camp Wabikon: archery

I didn’t weave any gimp bracelets (gimp is plastic lacing):

Camp Wabikon : posted outside the tuck shop

All in all it was incredibly peaceful and pretty (for me, that is, the campers were all busy doing stuff):

Camp Wabikon: Lollygag Lookout

Camp Wabikon : on the dock

Camp Wabikon: lake transport

Camp Wabikon: the swimming area

The writing is almost done. Now begins the task of pulling the rest of the production together. And the laundry. Oh, the laundry!

11 Responses to "A bit about a new gig, and kids and camp"

1 | Amy @ Muddy Boots

July 12th, 2010 at 2:15 pm


I loved summer camp as a young girl. My mom always stayed and helped in the kitchen, but she was very peripheral. She was there, but not kwim? I hope our boys get the same experience some summer… soon.

2 | vicky

July 12th, 2010 at 3:24 pm


I am now 45 years old and reading this post and seeing the photos have given me shivers.
I went there when I was 9,10 and 11 and positively LOVED this camp.
I use to swim to blueberry island and right across the lake as well!!
It was a small camp and there was NO SCHEDULE…you could do whatever you wanted to, as long as you were out of the cabin. It was SO unique.
We had awesome canoe trips and even sailboat trips.
The tripper is now our local school trustee. Small world!!
ANYWAY..thanks for such a great blog entry.
I hope your kids had a wonderful summer.

3 | Binki

July 12th, 2010 at 3:48 pm


I worked (farm/field work) from the age of 12, so I never did camp. It looks like an amazing experience.

4 | Rebecca

July 12th, 2010 at 4:41 pm


love the pics! congrats on the new gig too ;)

5 | bushidoka

July 12th, 2010 at 4:48 pm


I had my boys at Camp Opemikon a few weeks ago, which is the Scout Camp down past Perth. Fortunately where I am a leader, I got to stay with them too! Have to agree it was so incredibly fun!

I took a look at your camp when you’d mentioned it before, and nearly fell off my chair when I saw the prices! I guess that is reasonable enough when you think that someone is looking after your child the whole time, but still I think it is something most people probably cannot afford. I know I probably could not.

For less well off families there is Christie Lake Kids, and of course Tim Horton Camp. Christie Lake also accepts tax deductible donations if you’d like to help send some other less fortunate kids to camp.

And of course as already mentioned there is Scout Camp, which is a lot less expensive as well – cost me 25 bucks a kid for the weekend. But of course you have to have your kids in the Scouting program, and the troop you are with has to do those sorts of trips – be sure to ask about it before signing up.

6 | Ginger

July 12th, 2010 at 6:58 pm


Here I was all sad because this amazing camp is so far away in Canada…but then I saw that it is INTERNATIONAL!!! I did a church camp for two years in Missouri when I was a preteen. But I always wished I had been able to go to a regular, just have fun, kind of camp when I was a kid. I hope my boys want to go to camp when they are older. We might start with something a little closer to home first but this camp seems so amazing and what an experience!

7 | Eden Spodek

July 12th, 2010 at 8:21 pm


You are so lucky and Camp Wabikon looks and sounds amazing. My kids go to my old camp and the favourite weekend is the one with Visiting Day when I can go there four a mere five hours.

It sounds like your girls are having an incredible time. Enjoy every second and congrats on your perfect summer job!

8 | andrea

July 13th, 2010 at 8:02 am


bushidoka: Agreed, it is pricey, and perhaps that explains why there were a couple “celebrity” children there. :) But it is money well spent. I’ve thought about the price issue. It’s essentially childcare, right? And this is not something you should necessarily cheap out on. Would you send your kids to the cheapest daycare? Hire the cheapest nanny? Camp staff are total professionals, who entertain our kids and feed them well. (I didn’t mention that each meal had a vegetarian option, and often gluten-free ones too.) The value of the canoes, sailboats, archery sets etc. That is all expensive stuff!

Ginger: It is VERY international. I didn’t mention that in my post. The term we were there had a quite a few Spanish kids, as well as a couple from France and one from Switzerland. I found this to be a really interesting aspect of camp life. Kids getting to know kids from other parts of the world is really enriching.

Eden: Thank you! It is a perfect summer job! :) It is so neat that your kids go to your old camp. Love it.

9 | hillary

July 13th, 2010 at 9:36 am


Ok, first – I TOTALLY agree that every child should be able to have a camp experience! I went to camp for years – then when I was too old to go, I worked there. I’m still involved with the camp I went to as a kid. It’s SUCH a great experience!

Second – Wabikon! When we were little, we had tons and tons of books on tape that we’d listen to in the car. One of them (I think, was it a Garfield one? Somehow that doesn’t sound right, though) the characters went to Camp Woebegone. There was something about a jaguar and jujubees, too. But as SOON as I read Wabikon, something deep deep in my memory triggered and brought up fun childhood memories of roadtrips and our “turn the page when the chimes ring, like this . brrring!” books-on-tape!

10 | andrea

July 13th, 2010 at 4:40 pm


Hillary – I wonder if you’re remembering Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon ??

11 | Sara

July 13th, 2010 at 9:23 pm


I have been reading your blog for a bit and had to comment after two recent posts about camp. I am a camp director, however am currently doing other contract work from home in an effort to spend time with our two young sons. My husband is also a camp director and we are raising our sons at a year-round camp where we live on site permanently.

I agree that camp is a transformative experience – for children and teenagers who attend as campers and for staff, who are able to view camp in an entirely different light, in many ways. There is currently a push within the camp industry across the country to do research on the benefits of a camp experience for children, youth and families so that what so many have known and experienced on an informal and personal basis can be quantified and legitimized, I suppose.

In addition, Andrea, I thought you would like to know that many provincial camp associations, camp governing bodies and the Canadian Camp Association are looking to former and current campers to speak about their camp experiences and how it has – or is – affecting their life, career, personal character, etc. Many prominent Canadians – Olympic athletes, politicians, broadcasters, etc have lent their name to this cause. I think that you write about the experience – on behalf of your children and yourself – in a very clear and honest way and think that these camp associations might be interested in your writings about the industry.

As for the price of camp, I wanted to add that there are many, many options for fee assistance. Church and agency (YMCA, YWCA) camps tend to be a bit less expensive – and most often no less of a fantastic experience. There are also many camps themselves that offer fee assistance, payment plans or volunteer options. In addition, I recommend contacting your provincial camping association – they will be able to steer you in the direction of funds and programs designed to assist families in covering the cost of camp fees and equipment. These funds are not solely for low income families – accessibility is one of the most important tenets of the camp industry.

Thanks again for the posts!

comment form:


Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • wisma bet login: alwa?s i ?sed to ?ead smzller posts ?hich al?? clear t?eir motive, and that is als? happening wityh t?is paragraph whi?h I am reading ?t this plac
  • /Article//110482: What i do not understood is in truth how you're not really much more neatly-favored than you might be now. You're so intelligent. You understand th
  • Jenn Jilks: That is really exciting! Break a leg!
  • fun88: I was excited to discover this page. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also
  • Gretchen Humphrey: I had a beautiful bee& birdbath filled with a solar fountain and dozens of antique marbles that were suddenly disappearing. At first I thought my
  • Jinjer: I am sobbing reading this post. And you're right, companion is not enough. Little furry treasured gifts that they are. Thanks for sharing cutie-pi
  • Karen: Dear Andrea, Mark and your daughters I am so very sad for your family xxx Piper was/is my favourite Instagram post. You shared with us so intimately

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

Still calling it Twitter