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Fish Camp ... A Reflection ... from a Woman's Point of View. Part I

They say, "What happens at fish camp, stays at fish camp."  Rightly so, but when a 40+ blonde, mother of two commits to tagging along on this "trip of a lifetime"...a few stories beg to be shared.  It is my hope that among the laughs, tongue in cheek remarks and bottom of my heart gratitude that men and women alike-- whether they have the gumption to traverse on a trip of this magnitude or not--know that even among this day and age of electricity and indoor plumbing that anyone can do anything for a short period of time ... and live to tell about it. Here is Part 1 of my thoughts/reflections of a recent trip to Canada I enjoyed with our two sons, my brother, my dad and a handful of new found friends. I'll be adding more reflections in "bite size pieces" in the days to come. Enjoy~Shannon

In the beginning...never in my wildest dreams would I have fathomed this summer would see me molding twenty years of fish camp stories told by my brother and dad into an experience of my very own. It began with an invitation from "Uncle Brian" and his friend, "Mr. Tom" take our two boys, ages 9 & 11, across the Canadian border to the remote wilderness to catch fish bigger than they had ever caught in their short years of  life.  However, living in a Post 9/11 era, my husband and I were remise to send our cherished wee ones without us in tow.  With Phil's job schedule as such, it didn't look like it would be a go.  A month later when the invitation came again, along with "this would truly be a trip of a lifetime!"...  I had this "Hollywood slow motion movie clip moment" where I had something of an out of body experience whilst discussing the amazing possibilities a trip of this magnitude could afford our children with my husband--the kind where you literally float in mid air and watch your lips move uttering something that sounded like, "What if --clear throat--I uh, cough--went--clear throat again--with uh them?"  There it was ... just sort of "out there" like a juicy worm on a hook waiting for a fish to bite.

SPLASH! My husband took the bait...hook, line and sinker! Suddenly, what once was an "out of the question, ain't gonna happen" option became like a breaking news headline, "GREAT IDEA!  A Trip of a Lifetime!"  Like a puppy let off his leash, the ideas were flying with what an awesome opportunity this would be for the in Canada with their Uncle, Grandpa and a host of other fine men.  I could just see the good/bad guys sitting on each of my shoulders laughing/crying.

Calling my brother back with the "good news" that the boys could go--with one condition...that I go with them--was met with a pronounced thud of...silence.  When I asked if my brother was still on the other end of the line, I heard, " that's fine...I just need to, uh, figure out the sleeping arrangements. I'll call you in the morning."  It was then that I even offered to sleep in a tent with the boys for the week. I really should have checked...did I have a fever, was I delirious? How did these unbelievable statements keep coming out of my mouth? Me? A Tent? A Week? In the Canadian wilds nearly 300-miles north of the border? While waiting for a return call, I had another thought swirl around my head...just like the popular "Survivor Series"... I thought...hmmm...Maybe I'll get voted off the island! No such luck, Brian called back the next morning saying that I had been granted immunity and was good to go. So, within 24 hours, the arrangements were made and I found myself with one last "ticket out" possibility...none of us had passports and even with expediting would be a close one.  But alas, my research rendered a new border crossing enhanced drivers license--available in less than two weeks.  And the boys? They needed only their birth certificates.  Driving away from the Secretary of States office later that afternoon I knew my "Fish Camp" fate was sealed.  Time to start organizing and packing.

To do so, I found myself first digging way back into the file cabinet of my mind for the wisdom, knowledge and experience I knew I would need ...Church Youth Group Backpacking/Canoeing Trips.  Memories that a day before had seemed liked eons ago suddenly seemed like yesterday.  My thoughts were flooded with visions of Dr. Richard Charlick and Pastor Ed Pedley taking our gangly group of young, comfortable with the perks of modern civilization, youth groups all over the country to experience first hand and up close the raw beauty of nature via a backpack, a tent and freeze-dried meals.  Coupled with years of traveling with my folks via motorhomes, boats, snowmobiles and motorcycles, I gained strength in knowing that I indeed had the wherewithall to handle this trip-of-a-lifetime.

Finally, it was the day of departure. With two boys who were off the charts with excitement, we made the trek "North" for the first leg of our trip...prelim camp...G'ma and G'pa Saunders home in Cheboygan hoping and praying that my Soccer Mom van filled to the brim had at least a few things that we would need.  It indeed felt odd to pack a "swim bag" along with a "winter gear bag"...not knowing exactly what Canada's version of Mother Nature would throw at us and praying that the former would be needed/used more than the latter.  At 11:15pm, the second half of our group arrived at "Camp Cheboygan"...the boys were like kids at a Bass Angler autograph signing session. Anglers Brian, Tom, Dan, Denton and Jerry came driving in with their big trucks and boats in tow. With backslaps and hearty laughs, past years fish stories were relived and dissed as the sizes of fish got bigger and the mishaps even more hillarious.  By midnight, I was wide awake on the living room couch, ironically in a bag called "sleeping".  With a weak, "Lord, what have I said yes to? and a pitiful cry of, "Help!"...I finally fell into a fitful short night of sleep.


Great Picture Mom!
That's Me...far left with a great group of wonderful Christian men.
Morning greeted us with a beauty of a sunrise ..."God's smile and reassurance?" Then it came time to move our stuff into our Fish Camp Taxi...Jerry's Yukon XL.  With gasps of "What IS all this stuff?" as the back of our van door opened, I cringed at my "mother's always pack for every kind of emergency known to mankind mentality" and simply said, "Stuff".  With a few deep breaths and rolled eyes, the van contents were moved and it was time for a group prayer AND...a group picture...after the self appointed photo journalist I needed to document this "trip of a lifetime", right? Barely looking at my mother so as not to plead one last chance of insanity, I climbed in the back of Jerry's truck, took a deep breath and whispered to no one in particular..."Here we go! Ready or not...Canada here we come!"