Saturday, May 12, 2012

Where it all began...

Thoughts from a Camp Narnia Director on a journey to where it all began...

"Narnia. Narnia. Narnia. Awake. Love. Think. Speak.  Be walking trees.  Be talking beasts.  Be divine waters." - Aslan The Magician's Nephew


Today, under a brilliant blue sky, I went to Salt Spring Island, where I go every few months to keep my compass pointing true Narnia.  In the beautiful Burgoyne Valley, where Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park is now located, Camp Narnia once lived and breathed.

 As I walked down the path toward Camp the memories came rolling in like a wind-swept field under a brilliant arm of the Milky Way.  The Nootka Roses carry their apple-fresh scent and the budding hawthorns crowd in on either side.  At the end of the path and off to the left is the garden where I once grew a homesteading feast of garlic and potatoes and where bees flew back and forth from their hives busy making honey for our bread oven delights.

Behind me towers Mt. Maxwell which has a special place in our Narnian lore and all around are open fields where pigs, cows, goats, horses, chickens, ducks, turkey, peacocks, rabbits, donkeys, llamas and of course children once galloped, neighed and nosed about.  In the distance I can see the Stone Table and the Tree of Knowledge, somewhat more grizzled and lichen-draped every year, but still rooted and strong like the memories of so many who journeyed through the Wardrobe door and took the adventure that Aslan sent.

 I often wonder what people who pass through here and who never saw it as Camp Narnia must think of this place.  Do they know that they are standing on the Dancing Lawn and that come twilight the fauns will venture out of the woods with flute and drum?  Do they know that they are crossing Puddleglum's Marsh where that loyal Narnian Marshwiggle, a true Respectabiggle, is waiting to share some fresh eel stew with them?

The stories and fabric of this place are so tightly woven into the core of who I am that there is no separating the two.  So as I sit on the Stone Table writing this with swallows swooping overhead and the sound of a saxophone somewhere far off playing I am so grateful for the passion and the vision that brought Camp Narnia into being.  To Anton Voorhoeve and Carol Toal and their daughter Marieke, thank you from the bottom of my ce-dar smoked, pata pata dancing heart.  I am honoured to keep that lamp-post light burning brightly and to continue to share the magic, the adventure and the true essence of childhood that Camp Narnia is.

In the words of a wise Narnian, to do is to be is to do so dobedobedo...


  1. "A lion watches over all,
    Helps us up if we should fall,
    In Narnia we hear his call,
    Hi-ho follow a dream..."

    I have such great memories of Camp Narnia! So sad that it got shut down. And I can still do a killer Pata Pata.

  2. If only I knew there was a camp narnia I would go. But its too late I am a teenager now I wish I could go back.

  3. A beautiful description. Wish I had seen that camp also. Just saw the Shawnigan Lake one. Thanks.