From The Record, July 7th, 2017
I spend a week every summer at a United Church Camp helping a group of teens and young adults to become awesome counselors to 80 kids from all over the province. Packing my bags for this year, I got to thinking about how stories can shape our experiences of camp and of summer vacations in general.
Summer Camp is a wonderful experience for kids. I loved going to camp as a child and have many fond memories of canoeing, arts and crafts, and campfires. I try to transmit this love to the current counsellors and campers. Sometimes, though, the nighttime can be hard. Kids get homesick and miss their parents or bedtime routine. I have found that, both as a camper and as a camp counselor, reading a bedtime story can really bring a cabin or tent group together and create a homey environment. Reading a classic chapter book to little kids can be a wonderful experience. Some of my favourite choices include stories like Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Although the Disneyfication of Pooh has created a wide world of stories about the bear and his companions, the original stories by A. A. Milne are filled with simple, classic fun and sometimes surprising thoughtfulness. It fits well in the camp context not just for that reason, but also because all the stories of Winnie the Pooh (available at the Lennoxville Library) and the House at Pooh Corner take place within the hundred acre wood. The stories are not just interesting for young minds looking to settle down for the night, but they also provide a setting for the imagination that is probably not too different from what young campers can see outside their tent flaps… even when the weather outside is less than ideal:
“Christopher Robin lived at the very top of the Forest. It rained, and it rained, and it rained, but the water couldn’t come up to his house. It was rather jolly to look down into the valleys and see the water all round him, but it rained so hard that he stayed indoors most of the time, and thought about things. Every morning he went out with his umbrella and put a stick in the place where the water came up to, and every next morning he went out and couldn’t see his stick anymore, so he put another stick in the place where the water came up to, and then he walked home again, and each morning he had a shorter way to walk than he had had the morning before. On the morning of the fifth day he saw the water all round him, and he knew that for the first time in his life he was on a real island. Which was very exciting.”
If the stay at camp is too short for a full book, maybe poetry is better suited to your needs: the poetry of Dennis Lee fits right in with the fun of campfire stories and songs. Several of his collections can be found on the shelves at the library as well.
Whether it is Lee, or Milne, or Rowling you turn to, however, sharing stories at camp brings a connection to the world of reading and books that children cannot get at school. Camp is different. Camp is an escape from the normal routine. Camp is a safe space to be a kid. Sharing a book with kids at camp might be a very special experience for them; it might spark a love of learning.
Speaking from experience, though, if you do choose to bring a book to camp (particularly one that belongs to someone else) make sure you don’t leave it out in the rain.
Although some spend the better part of summer away at camp, for me the experience will just be one intense week. What, then, do we look at in the rest of the summer?
Those taking a family road trip might find things go faster with an audiobook. On a recent trip to Quebec city, my family and I particularly enjoyed listening to the Lennoxville library’s copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The book lasted longer than the drive by a fair stretch, but it led to more than a few moments of sitting in the car after we had finished parking just to get to the end of a chapter.
Potter is on people’s minds a lot this week, which is, in fact, the 20th anniversary of publication. Even if that first book is now old enough to be in University, its tale of an 11 year old discovering his destiny in an otherwise hidden universe of wizards and witches continues to inspire young and old alike to this day. The spectacular Wizarding World seems even more splendid when listening to the book read aloud by English Actor Stephen Fry.
No matter where your summer takes you, give some thought to what stories you might want to bring along the way.
—Shanna Bernier & Cie.
DA-da-da DA-da-da-DAAA! We are pleased as punch to announce that our new library coordinator is now briefed and up and running. Jennifer Hardy is no stranger to the area. She has many fond childhood memories of hours spent in the Lennoxville Library. After finishing high school at Bishop’s College School she left the area to pursue her interest in environmental studies. She brings to the coordinator position a wealth of experience in non-profit organizations. She is looking forward to spending a few years back on her home turf making sure that the Lennoxville Library magic continues! A round of applause, please!