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Working-an autobiography from 1971-

My working life in a wide variety of occupations.
Expanded stories of some notable places of employment as well as a general overview of life's flow.

Note-Chapters are posted in reverse order,so scroll to the earliest to read in order.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I return to camp

One thing I did to keep busy and feel useful was to accept a position on the Camp's board of directors who met monthly at the nearby United Church on Monday evenings.
Frank was chairman then and was full of good ideas and added energy to the proceedings.
The other members seemed very cautious and I found it very frustrating at the lack of interest in carrying out needed improvements.
As spring approached and I had found nothing in the way of employment I accepted the offer to return for another season in my position of groundsman.
I was pleased to have that to look forward to and Frank and I prepared another long list of projects to complete that year.
As the other staffing was dealt with I was pleased to find David and Peter returning along with Nikki as assistant cook and Lorna head cook with Doug the lifeguard to round out the team.
Kandy,another long time camper and board member took on some of the camp leadership and volunteered her husband who was an experienced logger to assist in cleaning up the forest surrounding the camp which had snags and dead trees needing to be felled.
Frank had bought (out of his own money) a 1983 Toyota 4x4 truck to use as a camp truck for hauling propane and supplies which we readied in his rented garage in Montrose along with the boats stored there.
 May soon came and we were back at it.
Boo-Boo was out there from the start and immediately ran to the brick house to resume her pack rat hunting.
David was delayed as he was completing some school before graduation so Frank and Peter filled in until he was available.
Knowing the routine, we had everything ready in short order and busied ourselves with projects until the first school groups came near the middle of June.
The weather was wet and cool much of the time and I remember having a fire going in the big log "lodge" building's stone fireplace where the first campers dried their clothes and towels.
Boo-Boo was constantly damp and my bedding absorbed lots of moisture as did my own clothing which I had to change often.
Lorna's husband, Bill came across to help Frank and I with some logging work one day and we accomplished what I thought was a lot that day.
We wanted to do as much of the potentially dangerous jobs while no kids were present.
This provided stacks of firewood which I enjoyed bucking up and splitting to distribute around camp with a wheel barrow.
A few days after the school camp started I was returning their lifeguard to the McDonald's Landing dock in the afternoon.
As I approached the dock I saw a girl sitting there.
Getting closer I saw she was smiling broadly, more so as I neared the dock.
I was thinking she was waiting to meet the lifeguard who was also a girl of similar age.
I manoeuvred alongside the dock and when I looked closely, saw it was none other than Nikki with a different hair colour and style!
She was waiting to see me and gave me a big bear hug like an old friend.
Nikki lived nearby the dock and also worked at a neighbouring motel while going to school.
She was excited to be coming to work with me after being a camper since she was a little girl.
As I returned to camp she promised to see me at the dock often until it was time for her to start her cooking job in a few weeks.
 The weather improved by later in June and once the regular camps began we had a stretch of perfect days.
I often thought to myself that there was no better place to be anywhere on Earth!
David and I worked on shingling the shower building with the bundles of cedar shakes on hand and it turned it from the bare white trailer into a cabin-like structure as we had hoped the year before.
I had a very enjoyable week when the exchange students from Selkirk College came out.
They were mainly from Asian countries and most were from big cities making the camp a totally new experience.
Frank was worried they might find Boo-Boo frightening, but it turned out they all loved her!
They found the speed boat ride over very exciting and whooped with joy as we plowed through heavy waves during a period of strong winds.
The instructors were a fun group too and really made things fun for all.
One morning two scruffy large stray dogs appeared in camp.
They must have wandered down the tracks from Procter a few miles away.
They proved to be a big hit with everyone and were fed and fussed over for a few days.
I remember one tall Korean fellow who only spoke a bit of English who seemed to be the most interested in one of the dogs and could be heard urging "Follow....follow" to one as they journeyed around the camp.
They disappeared eventually. Boo-Boo seemed to miss them for awhile.
My son, Harley and his best friend came to the co-ed camp and befriended Nikki who wanted to become part of our family.
She asked to come and stay with us one weekend and after meeting her Mum so that she could see I was harmless  allowed her to come home with me.
She did become like part of our family and to this day holds a very special place in my heart.
Shelagh also became very fond of her as does anyone who meets her.
Once the church camps were done and Nikki returned to her motel job, she was always at the dock to meet me on Sunday evenings as I went back on shift.

While home one weekend I saw an ad in the paper looking for full-time labourers at Trimac Transportation.
Trimac has a big facility in an industrial part of Fruitvale.
I sent in my application as requested and had a call on my cell phone while out at camp to attend an interview.
The manager was a very kind fellow who applauded my working at the camp and offered me a job starting as soon as I was available.
The camp was slated to go until the beginning of October to allow another school group who booked late to attend.
It would be a challenge since David had left for a job in Vancouver and Frank would only be able to help a few times due to his schedule.
We had to shut the camp down for a few weeks in the interim and I was able to have some time off at home to be ready for my new job.
I had buggered up my shoulder moving those cursed propane tanks and appreciated the rest.
I returned late in September to reopen the camp on my own one dark, rainy day.
the Aeroliner was tied at the dock and was very beat-up from several storms that had bashed it around as it sat unused.
It had lots of water in the bilge which the solar powered pump had failed to keep up with.
after manually pumping it out, Boo-Boo and I headed across the lake where I could see as I got closer the Starcraft moored nose in to the beach sunken with the tip of the bow visible.
some bonehead had left it where the waves ended up swamping it.
I had to use my head and after calling Frank to leave a message reporting my findings I got the camp set up and then went and brought the gas powered water pump used as a fire fighting apparatus up to the boat along with a 5-ton com-along winch that I attached to one of the nearby dock pilings.
I attached the cable to the stern of the Starcraft then began lifting it until it was a few inches free of the lake.
I put the inlet end of the fire hose into the boat and fired it up.
I was thrilled to find my plan working as the boat rose out of the lake and was soon safely at its usual height.
The motor having been submerged would need servicing at Jones Boys located up the lake.
Frank eventually returned my call and was pleased I'd successfully re floated the boat and told me he would contact Chuck to bring the trailer to the boat launch the next day to tow it up for repairs.
Using the Aeroliner I towed the Starcraft over the next morning and accompanied Chuck to Jones Boys where they promised to have it ready ASAP.
 We had only a few days until the school group was due and Frank with his usual last-minute timing had it back the night before the camp and stayed overnight to help me with transporting them in the next morning.
I had another pleasant week, but found ice on the dock most mornings and a very chilly breakfast time.
It was 6 Celsius in my cabin in the mornings. I had a pile of blankets and sleeping bags to crawl under wearing two pairs of pants and a hoody over my flannel shirt.
The teachers were skilled outdoors people and were happy to help me look after things making my last camp a breeze.
Soon after it was done and we closed up yet again.
My Trimac experience was about to commence.

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