Sunrise Lutheran Camp

I went to Sunrise Lutheran Camp, the summer between grade two and three. My father had to get special permission from Mrs. Olson for me to attend. She was in charge. I think the special permission was either because we couldn’t afford to pay or the fact that we were not church goers. It was a two-week long camp. The girls and boys had separate cabins. The large open room had a row of metal bunk beds down each side, like army barracks. At the end of the cabin the boys councilors had their own room, next to the small bathroom. The boys in my cabin looked like this:

Summer Camp boys

This is not a picture of the real boys in my cabin, but we looked just like this. You can see that they look like a real bunch of troublemakers, but I was the biggest troublemaker of all.

It rained the first night I was there and I got homesick, but it didn’t last long. I had a top bunk. It was taller than my head and there were no ladders to climb up. Normally it wasn’t a problem, unless you had to get up in the night to go pee. You weren’t allowed to pee the bed at camp.

They had no refrigeration in those days, at the camp, so they kept the fresh goods and bottled milk in a vat that pumped cold lake water through it continuously. The lake water was cold enough to keep food fresh, cold enough they made us go swimming in it every day. Because they were safety conscious, we could only go in the lake with a swim buddy. Little kids, swimming in pairs, so we could drown together, in the freezing depths of Lake Winnipeg, I suppose.

The bible study was held in a pleasant circle, out of doors, unless it was raining. It was really boring. It was more fun to talk and joke around with the other kids than listen to a grown-up ramble on and on until your brain went numb. They made me leave the group one time. Fine by me. I went back to the cabin and hid under the bunk, so they couldn’t find me after the boring bible study. They searched the lake for my cold dead body but I wasn’t there. They weren’t smart enough to look under the bed. I came out for supper. When they asked where I was, I said ‘nowhere’. They didn’t like that.

My uncle picked me up from camp because it was faraway from our house and we had no car. He told me that we moved while I was at camp. No one had told me we were moving. I wonder, if my uncle hadn’t come, if I would have returned home to an empty house.

It was a nice house, the new house. It was in the country and you got to ride the school bus every day. In those days, our country school bus wasn’t a real school bus, it was the Jones brothers’vegetable delivery step van. There were no bus seats,  just a bench down each side of the van. It was good because I could get up and tease or wrestle the kids so the ride home wasn’t so boring. But Mr. Jones got so mad about the noise, one day he kicked me off the bus, a long way from home, out by the Bar-N-K Ranch. It was fine by me because the ranch had a really neat Stage coach at its front gate. I played in there for a long time, until my mother found me near suppertime. She was really mad. After that I had to sit up front by Mr. Jones. Fine by me cause I got to sit on top of the engine cover and it was always really warm, especially in winter.

That winter, when it was snowing, Mr. Jones let the school bus van slip sideways into a ditch. The whole van was on its side. It was neat because we got to go out the back door that we were told to never go near. The ditch snow came up to my waist. It was kind of fun because we got to miss school. It was fun until it got too cold and we had to go back in to the sideways school bus van to stay warm. It was like our own private snow fort. We stayed there until the big truck came and pulled us from the ditch. We had to go to school after that and we even missed lunch.

I learned to play football at that school. Not real football just recess football. I was good at it because I could run fast and I was the only kid that could catch when the ball was thrown in the air. I couldn’t throw the ball because it was too big, but Morris could throw. One time he threw the ball to me while I was running fast and I ran straight into the goal post with my face. I had a great purple egg on my forehead. It looked like this:

The Purple Egg

My mother had to come and pick me up from the nurses’ office.  She was really mad, but I don’t think she was mad at me. The whole thing was fine by me because I didn’t have to go to school the whole rest of the day. I got to go home and watch cartoons.

I liked that house in the country. In the winter, the snow would drift so high you could climb it all the way to the roof. It was excellent for snow forts. If it snowed enough and blocked the road, you didn’t have to go to school.

One time, on a stay at home snow day, I made a fort inside my mother’s closet. It was dark so I lit a match to see, but the match started a very small fire on a blanket that was in the closet. It made a terrible stink and my mother came to see what it was. I was just sitting in the closet, minding my own business. She was really mad. I don’t know why, I had put the fire out.

After that I hid under the bed.

Follow me on my website at www.whjohnson.ca

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