I Smelled Camp

It’s our last day here, ‘here’ being Shuswap Provincial Park. I arose to a beautiful sunny day, took care of some business and made my morning coffee. Instant in this case as I’m out of ground. I gathered my stuff and stepped outside with my fresh cup of Joe. What did I encounter when I stepped outside but a flashback to a long ago time, to a time about 50 years ago. I smelled “camp”.

I’m not saying I smelled “camping”, that would be expected. I’m saying I smelled “camp”, as in Bible Camp. As I opened the fifth wheel door and stepped out onto the top step I immediately got a whiff of ‘something’ and was transported in time and space to a previous life. That particular life involved a week spent in a Bible Camp on Kootenay Lake.

My folks sent me there, likely it’s more true that my Mom sent me there. I don’t recall if I wanted to go or not. In hindsight my parents maybe just needed some alone time, but that’s another tale.

I wish I could put my finger on the particular odour that took me back there. It was gone as quickly as it came, but it was there. Racking my brain for clues I think it may have been a smell associated with the camp dining hall, but I’m not sure. It wasn’t really a cooking smell, or was it? The more I try to recall the more the moment slides away. It was certainly a pleasant smell, and any recollection I have of that time is positive. Alone and lonely, but positive.

There was certainly lots of kids there, or seemed like it anyway. As I write this I recall more and more about that place, not so much about the people. I can remember some of the buildings and I recall the beach. I have some brief, fleeting, memories of the small building I slept in, bunks I think. I have a sense of 2 or 3 others in there with me but I’m not sure. I think I remember someone wetting the bed, pretty sure it wasn’t me. As I study the past I begin to recollect that I felt ‘different’, apart, not connected. It makes me sad now, probably did then too!

However, my flashback was pleasant and it took me to a happy place. It was a good feeling and not a sad one. It was a moment, however brief, of a time in my youth, and who doesn’t want to re-visit some of those moments. I smelled camp and I wanted to be back, to a simpler time. I smelled camp and it was good.

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