Ak-O-Mak 90th Reunion
The Ak-O-Mak Main House was a rockin’ on the Labour Day Weekend, filled with more than 100 exuberant “campers” and counsellors attending the 90th Reunion. For many, it was the first time in 30+ years that they had returned to the shores of Ahmic.
There was representation from most decades…the 40’s-50’s, (none from the 60’s), the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and even the 20-teens. Alumni travelled from Australia, Mexico, California, Vancouver, Florida, South Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, Quebec, Michigan, Pennsylvania…just to spend a couple of days at camp with their old ‘buds’; playing, swimming and jumping off of the diving tower as they did in their glory days.
We are incredibly grateful to each and every one of you who made this “pilgrimage” to camp, facing not only holiday traffic but also the potential of dismal weather which was intially forecasted.
Buck must have sung an “Heehungugah”, however, because the weekend could not have been better. Thunderstorms were respectfully scheduled for night time only. Rain may have doused Friday night’s Speedball game but spirits remained un-dampened as friends regrouped under cover to chat. Those on the Main House Porch cozied up in muskoka chairs, basked in the glow of LED ‘candle light’ and caught up over a glass of wine, enjoying the warm, muggy evening.
Early Bird, though optional, was enthusiastically attended by large flocks of 1 and 2 mile swimmers, proving that Ak-O-Makkers never lose their joy for this early morning tradition. An ‘Ak-O-Mak Toast’ goes to our youngest “birds”..(fish?)… Harper (5) and Evie (9), Emma Lawrences’ daughters, who swam triangles and to Orange Rock respectively. Go Australia!
Of course it wouldn’t be camp without War Canoe! A few creaking joints aside, 3 war boats went out with crews ranging in age from 11 to 70 and they looked fantastic! (Check out Boj’s facebook page for video proof). One boat was coxed by Jocelyn Muir Saunders (a recent graduate from Canoe Kayak Canada’s Coaching program) while Vanessa Young Assel coxed the other war canoe. It was both a beautiful and powerful sight seeing Vanessa, 8 months pregnant, coxing a war canoe crewed by strong, Ak-O-Mak women!
As is sometimes the case, not everyone was quite ready for the war canoe. Three year old Julia, (Lindsay Mooney Churcher’s daughter) cried her heart out because she wanted to war canoe with the big girls! Don’t worry, Julia. Your ship will come in eventually. Just be patient…
It was wonderful seeing past campers and counsellors return to Ak-O-Mak as mothers with their little ones. Emily Rice brought 8 week old Katherine, who was sporting a pink “Downtown Magnetawan” onesie! “Clan Smith” was well represented: Katie Smith Vanderbruggen (who is expecting baby # 1) came with her brother Ryan and sister-in-law, Courtney, who have a solid lead in the baby department with Quin, Mac and Colton in tow. Rachel Emerson introduced us to her young son, Oliver. Karen “Boj” Bojti’s son, Charlie (8), met Liisa Tikkala’s 9 year old son, Lucas, and both loved jumping off the tower.
The grown-up-mother-daughter teams this weekend were: Wendy Dobson Browner (1946-1957) and Missy Strawther (1974-1978); Christine Hodson (80’s) and Kelly Mitchell (present), Catherine “Candy-Mac” McAndie and Marion Denny (who was a camp counsellor this year at Ak-O-Mak along with Lisa Carr’s daughter, Ana Warwick).
One of the biggest highlights of the 90th Reunion Weekend was certainly the FOOD. Chef Samson ( of ‘cookingwithsamm.com’ fame) has completely redefined the concept of “camp food” and continues to take the Ak-O-Mak dining experience to new levels. Surprised murmurs of “THIS is camp food?!”could be heard throughout the Main House at mealtime.
Samson and his team especially “wowed” with the lunch buffett on Sunday! There were salads galore, cheese platters, fruit compotes, grilled salmon-fennel wraps with mustard/maple dips, grilled chicken-caesar wraps, proscuitto, a variety of ‘fancy breads’ including corn bread loaves and everything was made in-house. Gemma, our baker, is fantastic and somehow produced an enormous Ak-O-Mak 90th chocolate cake for lunch then baked-cheese cake tartlets with strawberry coulis for dinner. A picture is worth a thousand words so check it out. Sorry, there are no leftovers.
Throughout the weekend, many of us wistfully tried to comprehend this fleeting passage of 30 years since our days as a campers/counsellors. The carefree, oft-uncertain girls that were at camp then are today accomplished, strong women. I find myself in awe of each one of them… as I was back then… although now for entirely different reasons. Many of us have greyed a bit. Some are grandparents. Others are dealing with the so-called “cards” that life has dealt, summoning the physical and mental strength first honed through the challenges of war canoe practice, open water swims or surviving the mosquitoes at Clear Lake. The lines on our faces bear testimony to the lives lived AFTER we passed under the Ak-O-Mak gate for the last time, saying farewell to a magical time and entering our individual ‘futures’.
Karen Bojti said it best. “I (we) travelled through time this weekend”.
Indeed we did.
And I am reminded of a beautiful song by Carole King…“Now and Forever”.
(Some of you will remember it from the movie, “A League of Their Own”.)
Now and forever
You are a part of me
And the memory cuts like a knife
Didn’t we find the ecstasy
Didn’t we share the daylight
When you walked into my life
We had a moment
Just one moment
That will last beyond a dream, beyond a lifetime
We are the lucky ones
Some people never get to do
All we got to do
Now and forever
I will always think of you
Didn’t we come together
Didn’t we live together
Didn’t we cry together
Didn’t we play together
Didn’t we love together
And together we lit up the world
I miss the tears
I miss the laughter
I miss the day we met and all that followed after
Sometimes I wish I could always be with you
The way we used to do
Oh, now and forever
I will always think of you
Now and forever
I will always be with you.
Thank you for being part of Camp Ak-O-Mak’s Celebration of 90 years.
Catherine & Dianne