• Photo: Rachel Idzerda/Can Geo

During my youth, I spent nine summers at Wilvaken, a summer camp at Lake Lovering in Quebec. I started off as a camper and then worked my way up to become a staff member. We’d spend our days sailing, canoeing and waterskiing, and our evenings admiring the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen. My lifetime best friend convinced me to go to the camp with her when I was a kid, so I made some of my best memories with her next to me.

My nephews went there for the first time in 2019, and the summer before that was the camp’s 60th anniversary, so there are still many things that bring me back to Lake Lovering. It’s always a special time when I arrive back, from seeing those familiar rolling hills to travelling alongside vast farmers’ fields. I can smell the pine forest and hear the birds in the trees — and I immediately know I am home.

When I attended the camp, there were only a couple of other camps on that lake, and there weren’t many boats or people outside of the campers, so the friendships I made during those summers were intimate and special. The people there are passionate about the camp, and that’s contagious.

Having a unique communal living experience like that changes those who go through it. Years’ worth of memories and friendships are compressed into a shorter time period because you’re with each other all the time. Things are just more intense in that environment.