Stepping outside the box for a moment, I thought I should introduce myself and Tamaracouta Scout Reserve (TSR). My name is Casey Rose, and I am the Director of TSR in the Laurentians, the longest running Scout Camp in the world. I am new to Scouts and I am new to Quebec, though not new to the outdoor education venue. With all of that said, I will share with you my impressions of this unique piece of Quebec’s memorable history.

During the past year, I have had the opportunity to experience TSR myself in a very unique way, as I’ve had the pleasure of meeting TSR campers dating back to the early thirties. This one-thousand-acre natural beauty is tucked 20 minutes away from St. Jerome, Lachute and St. Sauveur. The campers from 1912 would take a train to St. Jerome and hike over various terrains to get to the camping site and spend a week there. The only equipment they had was what they portaged and packed in their rucksacks. All of the sites were rustic, and the buildings were the original homesteads that dated back to the mid-1800s.

Move forward 100 years where celebrations and various jamborees, and over 7,000 people from around the world reunited on this site, using all of the technological advances available while still camping and walking on the traditional camp grounds as their predecessors once did. In the early years, swimming, canoeing and survival skills were all of the rage at camp, combining them added to the fun, such as paddling out, tipping the canoe and trying to get back in. Building their own shelters, gateways and structures took up most of their free time. In recent years, the waterfront is still the prime location at summer camp, with water based activities to complement the standard canoe and sailing programs.

With all of the new reality TV shows, the current rage is to learn how to build your own shelters and survive the wilderness of Canada. Do you see a parallel here?

Having heard the stories of past and present campers, some of these campers dated back their first visit to the 1930s. I realized that it really doesn’t matter which era we were raised in, we still appreciate sunsets and the stars all the same. The importance of youth getting the chance to be kids, the chance for them to be outside playing with friends, pushing their limits and challenging themselves is much more relevant now than it was in the 1930s. The freedom of the woods is no longer as accessible to the general public as it used to be, and technology has a very strong pull.

Listening to the vivid memories of these 80-plus-year-old gentlemen as they shared their personal growth, lifelong friendships, and skills that they applied later in their adult life was moving. The detailed description of the immediate environment and world events confirms the impact that summer camp had on them, giving them specific reference points to history. We all remember the moments of intense emotions that are linked with such an experiential learning such as I witnessed in these stories of personal memories of camp days long past.

Tamaracouta has been providing youth with the summer camp experience for more than 100 years, and will continue to do so into the near future. The camp is open to all youth (you don’t have to be a Scout), programs are completely bilingual, and are focused on personal skill development.

What memories will you help create?