June 2 – 15 , 2017 Vol. 19, No. 1

Time To Open Camp

by Rod Johnson

Well, it seemed like the winter would never get over, and the big Valentine's Day storm sealed our fate. We haven't been up to camp since Columbus Day weekend last fall. After the Christmas holidays were over and we got through the 2017 New Year blast, occasional thoughts of the coming summer started to creep in.

Yes, we were able to stave off seriously thinking about it with some winter diversions. We took the kids to Disney over the February vacation and got a couple of ski weekends up in Vermont and New Hampshire. Those were fun times, but when March was nearly over and the snowbanks were pretty much gone, the thoughts of Goin' Ta Camp became a daily ritual.

Then April finally came and that was it. We ARE planning the first trip north to open camp over Memorial weekend; there's no two ways about it. As mother often said, "March winds and April showers bring May flowers" — and I'm adding Opening Camp to that little verse.

What's involved in opening the camp and getting everything up and running? Well, it no doubt varies from A to Z depending on your camp's issues, how much you hire done and how much you do yourselves. There's the water issue, the shutter issue, kicking out the squirrels and mice issue, the dock, the boat(s), the sticks, and winter debris. Also, in the "other" category, unexpected issues always seem to pop up. You've discovered a leaky roof that needs patching where the tree branch punctured the shingles last winter, also a saggy floor and stuck-shut door which calls for jacking and shims.

After the long drive up to Maine with the SUV loaded to the gills, it's Saturday morning and time is a-wastin'. First, a good breakfast at the [Sunset] Grill with lots of "welcome backs" and "how'd your winta go," then you are ready to attack openin' camp.

What comes first? All of it. With all hands on board, you and the family charge with ten projects going at once. There's lots of questions about what to do, what goes where, and which switch does what. While giving advice or orders to other family members, some aren't happy with you about the yelling, but everyone chips in to help, at least for a while.

By noon, things are looking possible though still overwhelming. The kids have lost interest and want to play near the water or in the woods, go downtown for a sandwich or ice cream, and they want you to change priorities and get the boat in. You want that, too, but one of the pipes is busted from your poor draining last fall. The roof hasn't been fixed yet where it leaked onto the old camp couch, and the sticks and debris are in hastily made piles scattered about. There's been mice nesting in the silverware drawer, and by the looks they've been present throughout the cabin all winter. No one is volunteering to clean out the mouse nests.

By 4 p.m. on Saturday you are exhausted, frustrated and realize that you cannot fix all this chaos and still enjoy the weekend. You fix the pipe (sort of) with duct tape, good enough to get the toilet filled and flushable. A call to plumber Paul Hanna on Tuesday while at the office will take care of the rest.

That's it for today. A beer and burger on the porch while watching the sunset gives you back your spirit. Sunday is coming and surely you can bring some things together. You'll make a mental list of the items left to do when you are driving home on Monday. You push back the dread of driving home in the heavy Maine turnpike traffic, then look out over the lake at the beautiful sunset just in time to hear a loon calling. Camp is open, and that's all that matters right now. Sound familiar, welcome back to camp and the lake. I know I'm happy to be back.

Rod Johnson was born and raised in the Belgrade Lakes in the 1950s and '60s.