My kids finished school yesterday. Guess that means it’s summer vacation time. So why am I at my desk this morning? Better yet, why are you?

How jealous were you when your little rodents came home yesterday and announced they were sleeping in for eight straight weeks and had little intention of showering, changing their clothes or listening to you?!
What went through your mind as you drove them to the camp bus pick-up location or as their grandparents loaded them up for two weeks of cottaging? How did you feel when your teenager headed to the airport for their job in Banff or simply hopped on the same camp bus, as a CIT, that they used to board as a first-timer?

Look around your office and check out how many people have decided this is the weekend that officially marks summer, and smartly booked today off for an extra long weekend.

Well don’t get jealous. Set some priorities. Some exciting priorities. Like how you can make this the best summer ever. Now we are getting somewhere. Now your creative juices will get flowing. But first, you have to benchmark against some past summers. You know, think back through the years and see how many of those past summers really were as fun as you

Still waking up? Haven’t had two venti soy cappuccinos yet? Okay well I have, so let me share a few of my memories, which have gotten much better with time let me tell you. When I got thinking about summer, my memories came back with a rush. In fact I am not sure what summer was my favourite.

Let’s start when I was five or six and my family drove across Canada in a station wagon with a homemade tent-trailer in tow. Sorry, homemade doesn’t do Papa’s wizardry justice, as it was a great camper, but he did make it. So that qualifies as “homemade,” correct? Okay, back to the Grapes of Wrath part of the story. Our voyage to settle the west was a great trip until I fell out one night in a farmer’s field and was found sleeping under a horse.
Two years later and I began to spend summers at Camp Summerland on Lake Couchiching. Amazing place outside of the fact that the Camp Wahanowin kids always kicked us badly in softball!

My first post-newspaper route job was at a day camp when I was 13. I was so short (4’6”) that the parents confused me with one of the 6-12 year old campers.

Fast forward to when I was 15 and living on Sparrow Lake at Wenona Lodge. My job? Maintenance “man.” Snack bar operator (after I washed my hands). Fishing boat renter and maintainer. Heck it was a great job. For some odd reason I got to eat in the dining room and be served by the wait staff. If my parents weren’t going to read this I would tell you more about the waitresses.

My activities on Sparrow Lake resulted in me being banned from leaving home the next three summers, so I wound up working in an arboretum, at McDonald’s (BEST JOB EVER!) and then at the Ontario Sailing Center at Geneva Park. My role at OSC is commonly called the “Boat N_____” in sailing circles, but my 8” afro and perm tan quickly inspired the coaches to come up with a new name. If anyone knows an awesome dude named Mark Lammens… tell him I say “hi.” He was kinda my hero.

My summer job ban thawed when I went to university. Two summers at Paignton House on Lake Rosseau taught me: never get drunk and emcee a bar night; that blonde lifeguards really are blonde lifeguards; and two guys named Glen could become my friends for life even though one was a rich private school kid and the other hated rich private school kids.
Once I finished university, my summers were boring for a while because I stupidly decided to do my MBA part-time, so that added on three more years of school and the first time I had ever tried to study in July and August.

But work did introduce me to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and IMHO, the greatest event in Canada. (Oh geez, I just lost 38 Forum delegates in anger!) I have no stories about the Calgary Stampede because if you have been you don’t need my yarns to stir a smile in your eye and if you haven’t been you don’t deserve my stories. Fools!

I thought when I started this all my summer yarns would be about pre-work years, but not so.

My twenties were filled with summer parties and cottage trips much like yours. Plus a few rocking house parties already detailed in my blogosphere. My thirties became filled with weddings and my first trips to Europe (nerd that I am) thanks to the encouragement of my bride. Then kids and family trips. My mid-forties have turned into even better summers, featuring amazing vacations with our kiddies. Yes, this year I am taking my spoiled rodents to the Olympics. I will email you all photos of the beach volleyball (pick which gender you would like me to send in advance please!)

Now it’s your turn. I know it will be easy. Get those summer plans in gear. Heck we are Canadians. That makes us all “summer lovers”… with apologies to the movie by the same name. (Hello Darryl Hannah fans it is well worth renting!). Hope to see you soon on your favourite patio or maybe at your cottage (yes I am inviting myself) or perhaps just around the good old B-B-Q!

2 thoughts on “Summer Lovers

  1. Hello Mark

    Was searching on Wenona when I stumbled on your article. (Am in Gravenhurst this weekend and was thinking of driving by the property – memories of a great summer). What year were you there? I would have been there in 84 or 85. Do you remember the Dolittle’s? (own the island by the lodge and the daughters worked at the resort). And I still think it was fantastic that staff got served too! – yes, I was one of the waitresses.

    And .. I was at Paignton house for a summer. Not sure of the year, but Eleanor was the manager for part of it. Some wild times there.

    Great article and picture of Wenona!

    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Wenona was 1980…

      Paignton I was 1984 & 1985… don’t remember an Eleanor.

      My memories are practically black & white!

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