Camp Chikopi helped shape me into the soldier I am today
Dec 11 2020
I owe Camp Chikopi my thanks for a great many things. My summers at Chikopi provided me with the opportunity to discover amazing new sports, some unique to Canada and many that are unique because they are not played in Canada. During my first summer at Chikopi, the coaches worked on the fundamentals of my swimming. That beginning lay the groundwork for a love of all sports, such as archery, Aussie Rules, Gaelic Football, and being on the War Canoe team.
As I reflect back, what I am most thankful to Chikopi for is how well it prepared me for the future. Chikopi nurtured the qualities that allowed me to succeed in my current profession as a Corporal in the 3rd battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
My experiences in the military have many similarities to those at Camp. The Army has a disciplined schedule that starts bright and early each morning, much like the Chikopi Early Bird. One exception may be the Army's daily inspection of the soldier, his uniform, and gear, which is much easier to pass than Colette's cabin inspections.
For me, the closest similarity between my military lifestyle and Chikopi is the belief Chikopi instills in those who spend time in the "land of white birch." Both the campers and the soldiers have the same grit, belief in themselves, and the ability to push themselves to achieve their goals.
Chikopi nurtured and developed these attributes in me through activities I believed were beyond my ability. The first time I swam the Chikopi Mile, I remember wanting to get out of the water before I completed the first dock to rock. But when I reached the dock at the end of each lap, the coaches were there encouraging me to keep going. Between them, they convinced me that I had it in me to do another lap. As they called out my times for each lap, I was inspired to go faster and motivated to strive beyond my self-imposed limits. Chikopi is where I learned to quiet my self-doubt; it helped me become a better swimmer and continues to help me with the goals I have set myself since that first Chikopi mile. The courage to move out of a comfort zone has been indispensable for me. Because of these character-building experiences, I have the confidence to lead climbers up mountains for the military, lead fellow soldiers, and patrol the arctic in some of the coldest temperatures on record.
I am not the first Chikopi alum to enlist in the military, and I will not be the last. The Marines whose first-morning run was down Chikopi Road and the Officers whose first test of leadership to find the best technique to encourage Cabin 3 to be inspection ready. The Navy alumni who discovered their passion for water on Ahmic Lake, and the Soldiers who found their grit in the land of white birch. Chikopi promotes many of the same values our men and women in uniform believe in and uphold. No matter which branch they chose, Chikopi was instrumental in their decision for continuous improvement.