Thursday, 20 October 2011

Older Boys Parliament and Camp Counsellor

The two items that I will be commenting on happened before I began keeping a journal - technically, this blog should be placed between "Schools and Teachers" and "Prince George". These 'adventures' happened between High School and when I became an Articled Student.

As I have mentioned, I was in High School when I was invited to join the Young Peoples' Group at Como Lake United Church in Coquitlam. During the Christmas break the Older Boys' Parliament convened in Victoria - the Capital of B.C, - I was nominated by the Young People's Group and the nomination was sanctioned by our minister.

                                                The B.C. Legislature Building in Victoria
                      This photo is again through the courtesy of Michael W. of Vancouver

I met some others who were going to the OBP from the Vancouver area and we rode by car to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal (in West Vancouver and across from Bowen Island). We crossed to Nanaimo and then drove down the Malahat Highway to Victoria. Once there we were assigned to our billets - mine and another boy's was with an elderly widow who lived in a very 'English' style house.

I was thrilled to be there - and scared stiff. What if I had to get up somewhere and make a speech? We held our sessions in the Legislative Assembly and nominated from our ranks a Premier and a Cabinet. Resolutions were proposed, debated upon, and held for a vote. At some time the other boys decided that I had to make a motion or a public comment in front of all the others. I did and survived!

A highlight of those few days was a formal dinner at the home of the Lieutenant-Governor. His home was very elegant - and it was heartbreaking to hear that the edifice burned to the ground a few years later. It has been replaced by a newer - and even more elegant - building.

Unfortunately, my stay there was cut short by a telephone call from home - somebody wanted to interview me for a possible position in an accounting firm. I caught the overnight CPR boat back to Vancouver.

Just prior to that experience I volunteered - and was accepted - to be a leader at two United Church of Canada camps.

The first one was at a camp that had just been purchased from private interests. This was Moorecroft near Nanoose Bay on Johnstone Strait north of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. The camp site had lain idle for a year and the tallest trees had been logged. The grounds were a mess so the Senior boys were the first to go there with the understanding that they would/could clean up some of the mess.

There are a lot of snakes in the southern regions of B.C. and Moorecroft was crawling with them. Yes - we had a camper who loved snakes and enjoyed putting one or more in the leaders' sleeping bags or luggage. I did not go to bed without thoroughly checking if I was 'varmint free'.

My experience there led to a permanent change in my diet. Mom, being English, brewed a pot of tea for dinner. She always poured but, before she did, she put cream or milk into the cup. At Moorecroft fresh milk was reserved for the boys and the leaders had to make due with canned/condensed milk. I have never liked that stuff so I drank my tea black - and have ever since.

Most of the lads were the usual harumm-scarum boys but there was one who was different. He was extremely effeminate and obviously very pampered. For instance, when we went on the mandatory 'overnight hike' he didn't bring a sleeping bag - he brought bed linen and blankets! I do not remember how we accommodated him - but accommodate we did.

Just after daylight on the following morning we were awakened by a loudhailer from a boat out on the water. A small boat with a woman and some children on board had gone missing the previous evening and the 'hailer' was checking if we were of that party? Sorry!

Alda and Leo met me at the ferry when I returned home so I asked them if they had heard of the incident of the missing woman and children? What they spoke of was the current headlines at that time - the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm had collided off of Long Island, New York. They didn't hear anything about the missing people along the coast of Vancouver Island as I had not heard of the marine accident off of New York.

I was at Moorecroft for two camps and then went to yet another camp on Cultus Lake which is about ten miles south and west of Chilliwack. The lake is in a beautiful setting in the Coast Mountains, it is 'kidney shaped' and is subject to sudden squalls in the summer months - therefore, the site of a number of tragedies.

The northern end of the lake is where the main beach and picnic areas are located while the camp was at the south end - only a couple of miles from the B.C./Washington border.

One of the other campers at that camp has remained in my memory ever since. This was Ernie Enns and he was a powerful swimmer. He cajoled the camp leaders into letting him swim to the bend in the lake (the bend that gives that body of water its kidney shape) and then back. The swim was more than a mile so we watched him with bated breath and were relieved that he succeeded with no problem.

I had been to Cultus Lake before with family friends but that lake was never a favorite with my parents.

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