SUNNY BRAE – Many children look back and think of their time at summer camp as the best times of their lives.
This is the experience Scout leaders are trying to continue to give children in the area through Camp Roderick.
The camp opened in 1928 and has been a summer home of sorts to not only Scouts, but also local cadets corps, 4-H groups and even private rentals.
An open house at the camp last weekend welcomed back not only previous campers, but also the general public.
Scott Murdoch, area commissioner for Northeast Nova with Scouts Canada says, “It’s a way to get more people out here to see what we have.”
The event also served as the first appreciation day for local businesses and contributors who have helped maintain the camp over the years.
The camp can be used by anyone who wants to use it, as long as they leave it as they found it.
“The camp is really for Scouts in Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties, but we also do fishing derbies and other events here.”
The area support manager, Katie Matheson from Halifax, got her first taste of what Camp Roderick has to offer.
“It’s a wonderful place for kids to come out and get away from computers and learn endless skills. It’s a great place to have fun and be a kid.”
Camp Roderick has a huge lake for canoeing or kayaking and swimming, fishing as well as a place for bonfires, archery, hiking trails and amenities for those who prefer to not be one with nature.
The day included former leaders and campers as well as community members re-visiting all Camp Roderick has to offer as well as looking at old photographs collected over the years from the various camping trips.
Robert Weaver became involved in Scouts 30 years ago when his son became a member.
“I was a leader for five years and then I ended up staying on, because you just can’t leave,” he jokes.
Matheson adds, “Those that volunteer with Scouts often volunteer for a very long time and build that sense of community.”
Weaver agrees that is what happened for him. “A lot of kids in the county don’t have an opportunity to go to camp so volunteers are necessary to make sure these kids can come and have fun,” he says.
Seeing the excitement and happiness on the children’s faces kept him coming back.
“I enjoyed seeing the kids learn something and do something they wouldn’t do at home,” he says, adding he also learned one of his favourite hobbies there, making walking sticks.
“There was one year someone taught the kids to make friendship sticks and when they were done, they traded them… I took that a little further and began making walking sticks and I learned to do that here.”
Weaver is saddened to know there is only one Scout group left in the area now, compared to the 15 that were in existence in his time.
“It takes volunteers, too. People seem to have less and less time now. But you can’t pay for this experience for kids. It’s a magic place and people should see more of it.”
Chris Weaver was happy to be able to bring his son home from Quebec to take in Camp Roderick.
“I used to come up here with my dad when I was in the Scouts,” he recalls. “Coming up here in the summers as a Scout was a big deal and I ended up helping out for a while after I left the Scouts.”
He says his fondest memories of the camp are waking up first thing in the morning and going for a swim and then heading to breakfast.
“We also did hikes in the woods, campfires, and there were always different competitions or little rivalries between the different cabins. We’d also try to see how many echoes we could hear off of the lake.”
He brought his son with him to have a taste of the experience he had as a child.
Charlie Simpson is currently a member of the Thorburn Cubs and is just starting to make those memories.
“I liked sleeping at the camp and going out in the canoe fishing; we went out in a boat and had campfires.”
Young or old, the day brought back memories for everyone there.
“I was out here when I was 10 years old,” notes Dennis Raniowski, a current Scout leader who has been involved with the organization and the camp for longer than he can remember.
“There used to be a couple hundred kids here at a time back in the day,” he says. “An event like this brings back memories and people can come and see what we have here. Cubs and Scouts from across the province come here and can’t believe what we have.”
Anyone wanting to get their children involved in Scouts or to volunteer can contact Matheson at 902-830-1789 or email Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlie Simpson, a current cub in Thorburn, tries his hand at archery during an open house at Camp Roderick, used by the Scouts and other local organizations. (Harvie photo)