By Bob Poczik
You may know my good friend Ken Condrell, a widely respected psychologist who works with families and children. You may not know that he built and flies his own single-engine airplane, or that he is a dedicated fisherman.
After he heard me talk many times about Sportsmen’s Camp in Ontario, we decided to take a fall road trip to the camp, about a 10-hour drive north. We both like to fish, so we knew we would have a good time, and Ken was eager to meet the camp owners of great repute, Jack and Janet Newton.
We occupied a cabin overlooking Firth Lake, and I learned something else about Ken. He is a very early riser. In my household, I am always the first one up, and relish the quiet early morning hours with a cup of coffee or tea, The Buffalo News and a good book.
So it was quite a change for me to wake in the morning and hear Ken quietly moving around the cabin. I found it pleasurable to lie in bed and hear someone else awake. It gave me the comforting sensation of being a child in bed and hearing a parent up and about.
It took me back to my childhood when my family and I spent Christmases with my stepfather’s big, warm Italian family in Albion. They went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and it was exciting when everyone bundled up for the drive to church.
When we returned to their home after 1 in the morning, there would be a big sit-down meal. Then at around 2:30 a.m. – way past our usual bedtime – my younger brother and I would go to sleep in one of their bedrooms.
That’s when the adults began playing cards, which must have gone on until nearly dawn. I still remember lying in bed and going to sleep with the conversation and laughter of adults in the background, and how secure it made me feel. Such childhood memories can be comforting throughout life.
It is not easy for an adult to look at the world with the eyes of a child. I once read about how differently children and adults experience the passage of time. It’s why children on a long car trip keep asking, “Are we there yet?” Though adults are aware of mileage and signposts, for children it just seems to take forever.
It’s why, in the month leading up to Christmas, time seems to go slowly for children and Christmas never seems to come. Adults, in contrast, feel that the time is flying by, because we are aware of all the things that need to be accomplished by Christmas.
That’s one of the things I love about being at Sportsmen’s Camp every summer. Because the camp is so far north, it stays light until nearly 10 at night. So the days seem endless.
We might get up early to go fishing, come back for a big breakfast, read a book, take a canoe ride, play a game and it will be only 3 in the afternoon – time for a nap. Even with all that we do, there is plenty of time left in the day.
It’s the only time in the year for me when, rather than there not being enough hours in the day to get things done, there are plenty of hours in the day for whatever you want to do.
For the two weeks we are there each summer, I am experiencing the world as a child, not as an adult.
Our last road trip was a resounding success, and we made plans to return to the camp. Because Ken had such a great time, I imagine that when we next drive north, in his youthful eagerness to get to camp, which is a long 10-hour drive, he may ask me, “Will we be there soon?”
And I, a veteran of the camp who has made the drive many times, will patiently reply, “Oh yes, we’ll be there soon.”