Memories of Nominingue

Every summer, we hear from parents of all the stories their sons tell on the route home after camp and over the months following camp. Each summer at Nominingue rekindles these memories and creates new ones. Memories are one of the things that all campers and staff hold in common…and these memories last a lifetime!

Camp Nominingue Memories – Michael MacNaughton – Genval, Belgium

To a North American kid, the word camp is hugely evocative. But Camp Nominingue isn’t just any camp: to those of us who attended and returned to Nominingue year after year, it is the only camp… read more

Once you’ve been, you’re part of a family and tradition that you want to return to as often as possible. The memories of the good times you’ve had, the friends you’ve made, the skills you’ve picked up, these never leave you. Now, as a parent who gets to bring his son to Nominingue, I still get excited every time we drive up. It starts as you pass the Nominingue golf course and round the bend, where the old fish signpost points the way. Soon, you arrive at the venerable totem poles that guard the entrance to the camp proper, and slowly and carefully come up “Honk Your Horn Hill” hugging the right side.

Questions churn inside your head: which friends will be there, which counsellors, the feathers you’re going to work on, the canoe trip you want to go on, the route you’ll take, the type of paddle you’ll make…

Camp Nominingue, through the traditions and lore it maintains, is larger than life. The respect for nature and others that Native Americans had is inculcated in us through Camp, and passed on. As we play and learn from each other at camp, we learn about life itself, about ourselves, how to work together, learn new skills, have fun outdoors, challenge our own limits and build confidence in ourselves.

I thank my dad for perpetuating a tradition in his family and allowing me to attend and enjoy Camp Nominingue (even though we lived in France at the time), and thank all those who have made it what it is over the years. I’m thankful too that my son is able to enjoy that same experience today. And when he returns from his adventures away, he returns happy, energized and fulfilled, with canoe trip stories that make us all laugh. And if I’m busy trying to build a totem pole today, I blame Camp Nominingue too for inspiring me. That’s one thing I never learned to do at Camp, and should have… I would be a lot closer to completing it than I am now! On the other hand, my Indian-head plaque and cherry wood paddle are tangible reminders of achievement. And all I have to do is put my hand on the beautifully-shaped grip to have the memories flood back…

My Son’s Nominingue – Meg Kaufer – Larchmont, New York

When I walk into my son Liam’s room, there is not any direction in which you can turn without stumbling across a Camp Nominingue artifact…read more

There is his shield (not yet mounted on the wall), his “2009 Most Athletic Camper” award which is lying upside down on a remote shelf, several Camp Nominingue group photos is various stages of “flatness” which consume his desk space (well, one is still in the tube) and his medal for his 5th year at the camp. The medal was on the floor, tucked up against the leg of his bed and under a stack of books that are either un-read, read or re-read.

This degree of neglect might seem to indicate how unimportant the Nominingue memories are for him. Take the 5th year camper medal as an example. Shouldn’t it be up next to a large group of soccer trophies, engraved hockey pucks or lacrosse pendants? Those things aren’t in Liam’s room but Camp Nominingue is. It’s everywhere in his room through his shield, through his medal, through his pictures and through the exuberant, impulsive interjections that begin with, “Mom, did I tell you about the time at camp that we…”

No, Liam’s medal has not been misplaced due to insignificance. I have another interpretation. He was probably holding it while pretending to fall asleep on a school night. If I know Liam, he might even have had his flashlight on while he was reading and then his eye happened upon the medal and he grabbed it just to feel it again. Just to be pulled back to that campfire ring or that day on the sailboat or that moment that his teammate carried him to win a leg in a race because, “Hey mom, I’m light and when you have to carry one of your team members to win a race then having a ‘small and light’ team member is all GOOD!”

From Liam’s first summer at your camp, he has found a family that only finds good in him. The depth of nurturing that he experiences there literally fuels him for the other days of the year and other arenas of his life where success, competence and athleticism are often more narrowly defined. We are overjoyed to have the Camp Nominingue community as part of our family that is raising Liam to fly beyond his wildest dreams and to set those visions on his own rather than allow others to paint that horizon for him.

Camp Nominingue : Those Great Canoe Trips – J.R. Warren – 1939-1949

Shortly after passing my 100-yard swim test, I went on a six day canoe trip to Lac Vert with two great counsellors, Jack McMartin and Ian Fraser, and three other kids my age…read more

Although six days was not a particularly long trip, August canoe trips were, in general, longer than those in July and they certainly didn’t coddle us on these trips. We left Camp after breakfast on Monday and paddled the mile-and-a-third across Little Lake Nominingue to the road which led to Lac des Isles (Lesage). After stashing the canoes, and laden with nearly 60 pound packs, we hiked a tough three miles along a winding dirt road accompanied by much cursing, complaining and frequent rest periods. At Lac des Iles, we picked up two canoes left there earlier by an outgoing party. With a counsellor and two campers in each canoe, we headed for our first campsite, Echo Island on Lac Rognon (St-Denis), three lakes and three portages hence.

Echo Island! An echo from the shore in answer to a call…Echo Island! Echo Island was the opening of a whole new world for me. Under our own steam, we had hiked and paddled and portaged to get to this jewel of an island, afloat in a lake indescribable magnificence, surrounded by pristine forest on all sides, ten miles from the nearest village, six miles from the nearest habitation. That night, as I lay in the tent trying to sleep on the hard ground, I suddenly heard wolves howling in the distance. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I was glad I was on an island! I got up just after dawn to pee, only to find smoke clouds drifting across the lake. It must be a forest fire…I was about to wake the counsellors when I saw that in reality it was the early morning fog. When I asked Jack if he had heard the wolves, he said yes, he had, but they were really loons. I felt much safer. The cry of a loon is the epitome of the North Country and it often still sounds like a wolf to me.

None of the other kids had ever been on a canoe trip, either. Jack and Ian were both funny and fun, and with them initially doing most of the work, we learned the rudiments of cooking good camping meals, how to mash potatoes with a paddle (hold the pot of potatoes between your feet and mash them with the handle of the paddle, making sure you wash the sand off the paddle beforehand), pitching a tent, lighting a fire, how to read a map and use a compass. We became better paddlers and got used to sleeping on the hard ground with only a rubber ground-sheet and a woollen blanket under us. I became Radisson and Des Groseillers, and all the explorers who wandered far and wide throughout North America searching for whatever it was that beckoned the. Every time I climbed into the canoe, I was off on an expedition of untold danger and indescribable hardship – the intrepid explorer shining light into the black hole of the still undiscovered New World. Every time I set foot on a portage, I was a coureur des bois off to Rupert’s Land in the quest of the wealth of limitless furs.

The following Saturday, we arrived back at Camp after having paddled across eight different lakes, skinny-dipped in half of them, crossed seven portages ranging from a quarter mile to one-and-a-half while carrying packs which fortunately got lighter as the days progressed, and slept at four different campsites. Two great counsellors, three good tripmates, a visit to a secret wonderland of which I hadn’t even dreamed. And I loved every minute of it! Oh, how I loved it! This was what life was all about.

Staff Play 2013: The Game of Thrones

Scene 1: (SS) The Fall of Cromey, The Rise of Kucer (Joffrey)…read more

[Cromey, Kucer, Brendan, Grant, Jay are all in the Program Office]

Cromey: Nominingue finally seems to be running smoothly…no narwhals…no plots to take over camp.

Kucer: Yes… it would be a real shame if somebody had poisoned your coffee this morning

Cromey: What?

Kucer: I mean… nothing?

Cromey: My stomach… I feel so sick… must go to my cottage for an indefinite amount of time… On the third day, look to the East…


Brendan: With Cromey gone, Nominingue will fall into chaos, but the night is darkest just before the dawn… I must fight the darkness… I will be Nominingue’s protec-

Kucer: QUIET YOURSELF BRENDAN. We’re not doing The Dark Knight, we’re doing Game of Thrones.

Jay: What? You’re acting like this is some sort of satire play…

Kucer: I can do whatever I want, for you see [MANIACAL LAUGHTER] I poisoned Cromey.

Grant: Now Andrew… I say Andrew because I really just think calling someone by their last name is rude… I don’t think poisoning Matt is exactly something you should be doing.

Kucer: I care not for your input Grant… I poisoned Cromey so I could seize the Iron Programming Chair.

[A Swivel Chair with pool noodles tied to it wheels out onto the stage, Kucer sits on it]

Jay: That’s just a swivel chair with pool noodles tied to it…

Kucer: No it’s not… it holds all the power at Nominingue. Jay, you will be my … my lord of whispers. You will find out what the other camps are up to, discover all of their secrets

Jay: Sounds good, I just need to pass it by Severin.


Jen: Hey, do you guys know that the 80’s were a time period, an era? So Radical!

Kucer: Just in time Jen, you see, at times I require a motherly figure…that will be you.

Brendan: Can I be Batman?

Kucer: No! I need someone to balance the accounts here… make sure all the candy lines are in order… I need…a Little Finger.

Brendan: So I’m sort of like a detective… a watchful protector… a dark –

Kucer: Brendan, NO! We’re in Westeros, you can’t be Batman.

Jay: If this is really Game of Thrones, shouldn’t there be an intro or something?…

Sept Jours au Parc de la Vérendrye – Antoine Ipperciel

L’alarme sur ma montre sonne à 7h00. Je me lève péniblement de mon lit. A cet instant, Patrick Quinn, notre « trip leader » entre dans ma tente. Je lui fais un signe de la tête lui disant que je sais quoi faire : aller au « trip stores » pour finaliser notre préparation…read more

Quelques minutes plus tard, nous montons à la cafétéria afin de déguster le petit déjeuner. Une fois l’estomac plein, mon équipe et moi prenons les sacs et descendons au craft shop. Ensuite, nous sommes allés prendre des pagaies et remplir nos bouteilles d’eau. Finalement, le moment si attendu arriva : nous embarquâmes dans la voiture, en route vers la réserve faunique de La Vérendrye. Dans l’auto, j’étais très stressé, car je pensais à l’aventure que je venais d’entreprendre. Je pensais aussi à des façons pour démontrer de l’initiative et du leadership afin d’avoir mon 3e en « tripping ».

Après deux heures de pensées intensives, l’auto s’arrêta finalement à notre point de départ : le lac Whiskey. Une fois hors de l’auto, nous mangeâmes une collation : des pommes et des oranges. Ensuite vint le moment de choisir les équipes pour le canot. PQ nous demanda qui pagayait le plus fort, et je fus désigné. J’embarquai donc avec William, et Emmett comme moniteur. Nous allâmes donc sur le lac à la voilière pour arriver sur un portage d’environ 500 mètres. Ça s’est passé très rapidement. Une fois achevé, nous arrivâmes sur notre premier « vrai » lac : Lac de la Croix. Il était environ 3 km de long. Par contre, il y avait un horrible vent qui nous frappait de face, mais après environ 45 minutes, nous arrivâmes au prochain portage, qui était presque de la même longueur que le précédent. Encore une fois, je prends le sac le plus lourd et je commence la marche. Les moustiques n’étaient pas trop embêtants. Il y en avait seulement ici et là. Environ 20 minutes plus tard, je vis le prochain lac : Cawatose. J’étais le premier arrivé. Je décide donc de déposer mon sac et de revenir sur mes pas pour m’assurer que tout le monde l’endure bien. Tout le monde arriva dans les cinq prochaines minutes. Nous mettons donc les sacs dans les canots, nous nous asseyons dedans et reprenons notre route.

Ce lac était plus long que le précédent. Encore une fois, un vent d’environ 25 km/h nous frappait en pleine face. Nous avons donc décidé de nous y installer pour la nuit. William et moi sommes sortis aussitôt des canots afin d’installer les tentes. 15 minutes plus tard, nous avions terminé. Nous sommes donc aussitôt allés prendre du bois afin de partir le feu de ce soir et celui du lendemain. Après plus d’une heure, tout était prêt. Nous pouvions donc commencer la cuisine. Je me suis offert pour cuisiner, mais PQ me dit que ce mets était sa spécialité : des côtelettes de porc. Il ne mentait pas ; c’était, en effet, succulent ! Une fois que tout le monde eut fini, nous nous sommes brossés les dents et sommes allés directement dans nos tentes, afin de nous préparer pour aller dormir. La soirée fut rigolote : tout le monde se racontait des blagues. Après quelques minutes, les yeux de tout le monde se fermèrent et le silence régna dans la tente.

First Day Memories – J.R. Warren – 1939-1949

Summer 1939. I didn’t want to go. The whole idea seemed stupid. In fact, it was terrible. My mom and dad had definitely decided to send me to Camp Nominingue…read more

for the month of July. They had been trying to do it for the past two summers, but I had managed to talk them out of it. Probably tantrum them out of it would be a better phrase.

This time they were adamant. And they had a strong argument to back them up. Going to camp would build me up after my long bout of pneumonia followed by bronchitis the previous winter…

Boating was the program the first night for the whole camp…I was standing on the beach feeling kind of lost, wondering if I could just push off in one of the rowboats, or whether I had to ask someone first. And this is where I got my first taste of what Camp Nominingue was really about. A nice counsellor seemed to sense my dilemma and came up to me.

“Hello, what’s your name?”

“John Warren.”

“And my name is Bob Harvey, John. I am a counsellor in tent number…Would you like to go out in a boat with me?”


“Do you know how to paddle a canoe?”

“No, I’ve never been in a canoe, Sir. But I know how to row a rowboat.”

“Well, let’s go out in a canoe and I’ll show you how to paddle, OK? And, by the way, you don’t have to call counsellors Sir. You can use our first names, so you can call me Bob.”


He took a canoe off the rack, flipped it onto his shoulders, carried it over to the dock and rolled it off into the water all seemingly without the slightest effort…

By the time the boating program was over, Bob Harvey had taught me the rudiments of the J-stroke (which allows you to go in a straight line without having to change sides) and I was able, more or less, to get where I was headed, albeit following a pretty wobbly, erratic course. I never went out in a canoe with him again but, by the end of the summer, I was a pretty good canoer for a fourteen-year old. Six decades have passed, but I have never forgotten the debt I owe Bob Harvey for his patience that night and for making me feel I was really part of Camp Nominingue.

Ma première journée au camp… – Vincent Rioux

Ma première journée au camp en fut une d’aventure et de découverte. Premièrement, je m’en allais pour la première fois dans un environnement où tout le monde parlait anglais et pour moi, unilingue francophone, c’était un peu épeurant!…read more

Puis une découverte parce que je n’avais jamais passé trois semaines loin de mes amis, parents et de toute ma routine habituelle.

Toutefois, mes craintes se sont vite dissipées dès que je suis descendu de l’autobus Voyageur qui m’a conduit au Camp Nominingue. Tout le monde semblait joyeux et je me suis tout de suite senti le bienvenu surtout parce que le directeur du camp était venue m’accueillir chaleureusement en français. En tant que jeune campeur un peu déboussolé et craintif de sa première expérience dans un camp anglophone, le directeur et les moniteurs ont aidé immensément à mon adaptation à la vie du Camp Nominingue.

Looking out the window… – Stanislas Monfront – Neuilly, France

In all fairness, this is not really a full-fledged window. In fact, it is more of a haphazardly rolled-up flap. But the result is the same…read more

it lets the delicate evening light filter through, and a thin membrane of netting protects us from most of the elements.

The flap happens to belong to a tent, and the tent happens to be pitched somewhere along the western shore of the immense Dozois Reservoir, one of the largest lakes of the La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve in Northern Quebec. From the elevated vantage point of our camp-site, I can peer through this makeshift window across the calm surface of the water.

Looking out, I can retrace most of today’s itinerary: last night’s camp-site is out of sight, but way up north I can catch a glimpse of the rocky outcrop where we stopped for lunch. According to the map, we paddled 32 kilometres today. It is a staggering feeling, being able to embrace a day’s achievement at a glance; the sheer distance we have covered is a testament not only to my own intense effort, but also to the flawless teamwork shared by this extraordinary group of friends.

More importantly, when travelling on these ancient routes, we are living on the edge. Alone in the wilds of the Canadian outback, my friends and I must be our own safety net; and each of us knows all too well how much our survival depends on our gear, the food and tents we carry with us, and above all, on each other. Yesterday’s storm was massive: lightning bolts cut the sky, booming claps of thunder shook the ground and torrents of rain swelled the rivers: I realized how fragile my life was in the hands of the elements. I’m still here, and now, it is with a mixture of awe and excitement that I gaze out at what awaits me tomorrow.