Kintail has been in my life longer than I knew Kintail was in my life. I always used to think I was first introduced to camp when I was eleven years old driving up the lane for my first week at a sleepaway camp. I remember begrudgingly agreeing to go to Kintail under my mom’s enthusiastic hope that I would go and also enjoy camp as she had when she was a child- I think also with the hope that I would eventually end up working at camp as she had as a young adult in her early 20’s. I was eleven, I was stubborn, I had never enjoyed any other sleepaway or camping-type trips I had experienced, I distinctly remember in my head how badly I did NOT want to go to Kintail.
Boy, was I wrong.
I have very few memories from that first week of camp. I remember small things that will always remain as the strongest images I have in my brain as a camper. I remember driving down the lane, I remember being greeted in our car at the gates, walking up to the gazebo and being shocked as I saw all of the counsellor singing and dancing having fun. I remember Hazel, Finn and Peridot introducing themselves to my friend, my cousin and I while we walked under the beautiful picturesque shaded cabin path as sun filter through the leaves, and standing in front of Hawthorn knowing that everything would be just fine.
And these were the memories I knew. The ones that I originally thought were my introduction to Kintail. A classic story of a child arriving to camp and working her way up to five years on staff and nine years of camp. Again, I was wrong.
There’s a painting that has been in my family’s home for as long as we have been a family. It was gifted to my parents as a wedding gift and has hung in our house in the same place for the 20 years we have lived there. I didn’t know the significance of the painting, or how we got it- I thought it was just a painting my parents liked and bought, but my mom told me a few years ago that it was an Ian McLean original- one of my mom’s friends from camp when she worked on staff, and whose daughter I worked on staff with. I owe close family friends like Ian and Hannah Currie, and Martha and Maggie Steeper to my mother’s relationship with Kintail. Although our friendships with each other had not really grown until we all worked on staff together, I never would have known them or had those relationships with them without Kintail.
While these early memories at camp are incredibly important to how I remember my experience as a camper, they are not my first memory of Kintail. Rather, Kintail has surrounded me my entire life. In my home, family, friendships and life. I look around my room at home and see Kintail surrounding me still. Photos on the walls, art gifted to me by camp friends, kind notes, staff shirts, and letters. Although my mom has not worked at camp since her early 20’s, she never let camp leave her life, and while there will be a day when I do not work at camp anymore, I will still be surrounded by Kintail just as I have always been before I knew it.