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Dear 7 year-old-me,

You are about to embark on one of the most important journeys of your life. In just a few moments you’ll arrive at the gates of Camp Ponacka. You must be a little nervous but you’re excited. You probably can’t wait to see what this beautiful, sunny place has to offer. Let me give you a little taste of what to expect.

You will get to experience things that you could have never dreamed off – canoeing, kayaking, archery, horse-back riding, waterskiing – the list goes on and on. You will be able to try, learn, fail and grow. Every step of the way, counselors and an exceptionally caring staff will be there to push you and help you succeed. You’ll develop skills, confidence and grit that will accompany you throughout your life.

You will get to see the best that nature has to offer.  Whether it’s just sitting and watching the sun set, swimming in the cool waters of lake Baptiste or even warding off mosquitos while exploring the depths of Algonquin park – you’ll develop an appreciation and comfort with nature that is unparalleled.

Trust me, there will be routines and songs that you may find odd at first. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will look forward to the comfort of enjoying these rituals summer after summer.

It will be incredible, just you wait. If there’s anything more beautiful than the camp itself, it’s the people. Your cabin mates will become your brothers. Sure you’ll have your disagreements, as all good brothers do, but these guys you’re about to meet will become some of the best friends in your life. You’ll work together on canoe trips, you’ll work as a team during evening programs and above all- you’ll lift each other up and challenge each other to be the best you can be. Don, Anne, Nick, Laura, the staff and counselors will take exceptionally good care of you. They will make you laugh, keep you safe, encourage you and support you. They will help you become an incredible leader, and a compassionate and thoughtful soul.  8-year-old me, you cannot even begin to fathom how incredibly lucky you are to become a part of the Ponacka community.

Above all, you are going to have the most fun you have ever had in your entire life. You may get homesick, but that will be incomparable to the camp-sickness you’ll feel when you have to leave these sunny shores for the summer.

And so my little friend, cherish every last minute you have with these people and in this place. Be thankful for the incredible opportunity you have been given. It will seem like only an instant before you have grown and you must say goodbye, knowing very well that while you may not be back every summer, the Ponacka Spirit will never be far from your heart.

Signed,

22 year old me, 15 years later

(By Andrew Dixon)