Steve Dunn and moi in Nicaragua: Kitchi friends 'til the end. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting under the light of the full moon on a remote island in Nicaragua with two gal pals from Canada. Even though neither one had been to camp with me, I had a profound sense of gratitude for my former summer camp of Kitchi. They know how important camp was for me, and we chatted about it. The fact that I am living on an island (Ometepe), on a large lake (Lake Nicaragua) definitely takes me back to my summers of island living on Beausoleil. I’m finding many similarities to camp life here; I wake up to the sound of a rooster, in lieu of the morning bell and immediately jump naked into the lake for my morning dip. I usually write something spiritual in my journal about life in general, maybe anyalysing my dreams or envisioning my future. This reminds me of our “Morning Thought” sessions around the flagpole, where we’d listen to quotes, poems, or just ideas on how to be a better person. I chant my morning mantras, which takes me back to when we’d line up for breakfast and sing morning songs such as “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma, or “Way up in the sky…the little birds fly….” These morning rituals of promoting health (my breakfasts these days are definitely more healthy), positive thinking and self-awareness, and music have really set me up on my path for life. I am a true camp girl. Dirty feet and all. 

Most of you know that due to burn out and adrenal exhaustion diagnosis a couple of years ago, I’ve really had to take it easy. I tried last year, but that didn’t work out so well. What I thought would be a mellow easy time in Costa Rica turned into a really stressful situation in many ways, and I came back just as burnt out, and even more stressed. And so, I took it upon myself this winter to really STOP. As many of you know, I love doing and creating, which is a great trait to have, but it also got me into my health predicament; travelling incessantly, not enough rest time between trips/projects etc. I came to Ometepe last April during my school break and fell in love with the island, the people and land up at Inanitah (a spiritual intentional community), and just “felt” good. So I decided to check out the other part of the island and I came back. 

Driving the dirt road from Moyogalpa to just past Balgue to my new place, I had that certain nervous excitement, somewhat akin to how I felt driving down Honey Harbour Road in Ontario each summer; it felt like a certain “coming home”. Since I’ve been here, I’ve done a lot of resting and healing; a lot of time spent in my hammock, reading, writing, playing piano and siesta-ing. I’ve been spending time with amazing people, and I know that these friendships will last a lifetime, as with so many of my Kitchi friendships. My intention is to come back here for the late autumn and winter months, and return to Canada for spring and summer, and I see that this seasonal way of living echoes my time spent at Kitchi. I’m learning new skills here, such as riding a motorbike on dirt roads, and I’m outside almost all the time without shoes on. When I return to Canada, I’ll continue to guide my trips for Wild Women Expeditions in BC where all the women say that they feel like our trips are like being at summer camp. That was my hope with creating my Kootenay Retreats: creating an adult camp. Except the bathrooms are much cleaner, and the food is way better. What a sweet gig. 

One of my gal pals Munju that was visiting is from Halifax, and her mom went to Kitchi fifty years ago for many summers, so Munju has heard all the songs and stories. She was joking with me about how campy I am and how my eyes light up at the prospect of doing much doing skits and performances; we did a Cabaret show years ago in the Caribbean, and to say I was “into it’ would be putting it lightly. Again, all my years at Kitchi doing Musicale nights of acting, lip-syncing, singing and dancing set the stage for my love of performing and creating. It’s also made me quite fearless; jumping off huge cliffs on canoe trips, walking in the dark at night from the lighthouse back to camp. Learning how to sail on Georgian Bay has given me the skills to teaching sailing for years in the States at Culver Academy, and that lead to a sweet gig of sailing a tall ship up the Inter-Coastal waterway for 3 months years ago. It also allowed me to sail in the Caribbean; most memorably, on Pete Townsend’s boat where I rocked out on an ukulele in the presence of a musical icon. Who knew that the old Albacores and Lasers along the shore of Beausoleil would lead to such adventure?

Last week, I had my good old (like, getting really old now) Kitchi pal Steve Dunn come to visit me on the island. We hung out there for a few days, then moved on to a beach on the Pacific to share some laughs, rum, and good times. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, but our friendship so easily falls back into place, with camp and our love of the island and nature being our foundation. Gratitude.

I’m sure my parents had no idea what a profound effect going to a YMCA camp on an island in Ontario Canada would be for their daughter, and for this I am truly grateful. I continue to live my life embodying the philosophies Kitchi instilled in me; gratitude for each day, living in community, singing and dancing every day, learning, growing, and stepping out of my comfort zone to experience new things. I may just try and get my peeps here to do a game of “Capture the Flag” here in the jungle. How sweet would that be?! Yup. I’m definitely still a Kitchi girl. 

Enter the rousing chorus of:  “Kitchi-Kitchi-Kitchikewana, boy oh boy, what a wonderful spot!”  

As always, I'm so happy for your presence on the journey.

Love and Light, 

Question for You: What experiences in your childhood do you feel made you the type of person you are today? How have they shaped you?

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