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I’m a camp counselor

I started my journey before I knew it began. In 1991, my parents hauled their children ages 1,2&3 up to family camp. Surely my parents had no idea of the impact bringing me to this place would have. My fondest childhood memories, valuable life lessons and lifelong friends emerged from this place. As I transitioned from camper to counselor I started to recognize how this place changed me.

It’s been 8 years since I was employed by the camp. I return less regularly, to celebrate with friends or reunite at fundraising events. This summer, a week after a wedding at Kintail, a few alumni staff and myself ventured into Algonquin. We came across another group on the route and Yeti (being Yeti) struck up a conversation. We said we were from Camp Kintail and it hit me. It’s been almost a decade since we actually worked there. We’ve all gone off to school and started our careers. It seemed a little dishonest to say we were from Kintail.

Working as a paramedic constantly reminds me of my time at Kintail. Greeting nervous parents, working with special needs campers, life guarding, First Aid and CPR training, comforting home sick campers all helped me find my calling.  Sometimes my patients don’t require the medications I carry, the interventions I’m trained in or my fancy truck with flashing lights. Sometimes they need Ocelot. The camp counsellor who sang songs to welcome people. Who got up in the middle of the night to listen to their fears. Who counsellor prayed with and for them even after they went home.

It was four in the morning when arrived at the retirement home. The lady called for something that had bothered her for weeks. Why did it become an emergency at this hour? She had recently moved out of her home. Lived away from her family. She was in a new place with unfamiliar faces. It was on the elevator ride down when she divulged the real reason she called. She looked at me and said “I don’t want to be alone.” Something about this woman close to the age of Camp Kintail reminded me of a camper.  She was homesick and she needed Ocelot.

Maybe it’s a little misleading when I tell people I am from Camp Kintail as I no longer work there. That won’t stop me from saying it, because it’s engrained in who I’ve become.

I am Ocelot from Camp Kintail.