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Winter Camp

Posted by on January 9, 2014

toboggan slide1All this snow and cold weather has brought back memories of our winter camps. From Christmas break until spring break, every weekend was filledwith campers enjoying–yes, enjoying the snow. Now, granted, these were kids young enough to hop on a sled or toboggan slide and zoom down the hill. Or pull on a pair of ice skates and go gliding across the ice. (I won’t say whether they were gliding on the skates or a body part.) But now that I’ve lived in the south for 30+ years–where it gets cold but doesn’t snow–I’ve reached the conclusion that cold without snow is rather pointless. Snow provides a reason to get out and enjoy the cold. But that’s off the subject.

Friday evenings, the buses of campers would begin rolling in around 8 or 9 o’clock. Dad toboggan slide2would’ve bought day old sweet rolls and doughnuts from the bakery in town and they’d be warming in the ovens. Large pots of cocoa (I’m guessing they held 3-4 gallons) would be heating up on the stove in preparation for the campers who needed a warming break from tobogganing.

The number of trees on the hillside leading down to the lake made sledding and tobogganing hazardous, so the camp built a chute. It started atthe top of the hill near the dining hall and extended down to the lake. I took these pictures last summer but they’ll give you some idea of the length of the chute. On Thursday nights, Dad would spray water on the chute’s bed to get it icy slick. So when the campers arrived on Friday nights, they’d clamber onto a wooden toboggan, push off and go racing down the chute onto the frozen lake. We’ve guesstimated they reached speeds of 15-20 miles an hour. (I never saw it but I’m told Dad and one or two of the other middle-aged men on staff would occasionally try a “test run” down the toboggan slide. 🙂 )


Toboggan slide3After an hour or two of tobogganing and snow fights, the campers came in to warm up a bit. I’d help Dad keep the pitchers and trays of sweet rolls filled. The clean, brisk scent of cold emanated from the campers as they pulled off their snow-crusted mittens and hats. Steam from the hot chocolate swirled around their rosy red cheeks and noses before they went to sit by the fireplace to thaw out.

Ah, those were the days. Lots of cold and snow and good, clean fun.


I’d love to learn about your favorite winter activity or winter memory. Leave a comment below.





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6 Responses to Winter Camp

  1. Jen Pen

    I just read and reviewed your book, Hear No Evil. I was actually very impressed with it and am already waiting for the next one! (I knew the camp sounded familiar…I have been there with our church.) Please check my blog for my review and keep writing!! (My son really enjoyed the book too!)

  2. Tom Threadgill

    I like a day or two of snow, and then I’m done with it! What wonderful memories you have though. I can almost smell the hot chocolate and sweet rolls!

    • Mary Hamilton

      I still miss the snow, Tom, but at my age, I wouldn’t be able to get out and enjoy it like I used to. They are precious memories, for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. lynellenperry

    We had a decent hill for sledding in our back yard. Or there was a hill near town that was popular for sledding. Our town also had a ski hill and I started skiing in… 5th grade? We had an ice rink but it was never my favorite thing to do.

    I am imagining that at some point in your youth you resented helping serve campers instead of getting to have fun yourself?

    • Mary Hamilton

      Interesting question, Lynellen. Dad always made it clear the campers were the only reason we lived there. We had plenty of time to enjoy the facilities. A few of my classmates still talk about our tobogganing parties. And helping my dad serve hot chocolate and rolls was my own choice. It gave me time with Dad without my other siblings around.
      I never learned to ski until I was an adult…and then decided I preferred to watch.

I welcome your thoughts on this.