Parting is such sweet sorrow

On Friday, one of our beloved staff members, Erin, had to leave and go home.  She’s off to get ready to start her first year of University, so she needed a little more time than usual to prepare, and she had to leave us early.

She’s never left during Family Camp before.

Typically, during Family Camp, if you’re looking for Erin, you’ll find her surrounded by a passel of children, and she never tires of them.  She has a spirit that loves children deeply, and wants to see the best for them.  She runs Bible studies with them, plays games with them, and leads them in skits and songs at each week’s talent show.

Going into our fourth week of Family Camp, she will be missed deeply, both by the kids she’s left behind, and the parents whose children love her deeply.  If she’s not directly with kids, you’d likely hear several kids going “where’s Erin!?  Have you seen Erin?”

I have never written a blog post before about the departure of a staff member, because as you can imagine, our staff come and go throughout the summer season.  But the reason I’m doing so now is because I thought it was a beautiful thing to watch how sad the children were that she was leaving.  I’ve never seen kids clamor after another of our staff members in quite the same way ~ well, I suppose not since the days of Krystle Todd.

As Erin tried to get into her Mom’s van yesterday afternoon, kids swarmed her, wrapped their arms around her waist, tugged at her arms, and begged her not to go.  They can’t imagine a Camp experience without Aunt Erin.  The impact she has on the lives of our Camp Kids is undeniable.

As her van pulled out of the driveway, a group of our staff and kids gathered on the shuffleboard courts to sing the kids’ camp departure song… “hey, hey, hey… goodbye.”

And then several kids ran up the driveway (at a safe distance) after the van, yelling “COME BACK!” and waving!

Erin, if you’re reading this, please know that you are loved deeply here and Camp would NEVER be the same without you!  So while we hope that you thoroughly enjoy your first year of University, we also hope that you remember that you need to come back to us!  If for no one else, for the sake of all those kids who love you!  Though we love you too 🙂

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You set the stars in the sky and You know them by name

… You are amazing, God.

That Chris Tomlin song (Indescribable) can’t help but get stuck in my head during a week like this.  We had a series of big nature events up here that when you watch them, I don’t know how anyone could not see the hand of God.

We started on Wednesday with an absolutely perfectly clear sky that let us all star gaze and see the Perseid Meteor Shower ~ free of the light pollution of the cities and built-up areas most of us live in.  My Mom and I laid on the dock that’s in her backyard (that hasn’t made it to the lake yet) with pillows and blankets, and we marveled at the Milky Way, the expanse of the sky, how many stars they were, how bright they were, and then with every passing meteor…. how amazing it is to be able to live under this sky.  We ooh’d and aah’d as if we were watching the best fireworks show ever.  And we really were, because it’s fireworks put on by God.

What struck me, and I know I’m not the only one, is that I love and serve a God who put each one of those stars in the sky, who named them, who delighted in His creation and said it was good…. but then realized quickly that it wasn’t enough and He wanted to have relationships with people, so He made people.  You and I are some of those people.  He created such vast beauty, and yet it wasn’t perfect until we came along.  We’re more beautiful to Him than the stars in the sky and the incredible sunsets because He created us in His image?  Amazing.  He knows the name of every star in our universe and in the rest of them… and yet He also knows how many hairs there are on my head.

And if that weren’t enough this week, a meteor shower where on the night there were the most meteors, the sky was crisp and clear…. yesterday we had an epic thunder storm that had many of us just staring at the sky.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera powerful enough to have captured the meteor shower, but I did get lots of stormy weather shots yesterday.

We started the day sunny and warm, and the clouds rolled in as we continued.  We saw lighting at about 3:45 and closed the waterfront down.  We weren’t sure if anything was actually going to get to us, because the radar looked like we were right on the edge of the system (and if that were really true, I’m glad we weren’t in the middle)!

At around 4:30 the thunder started, and just before dinner the sky opened right up.  The rain poured down, and Paul had to move his chicken wing making station onto the covered lodge porch!  It eventually did let up though, and the sun came back out around 7:30, which led to both a spectacular rainbow and a gorgeous sunset.  God’s promises were all around us yesterday, and His beauty was on display for all to see.  What a wonderful way to end Week 3 of Family Camp!

Check out some of these pictures!

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A 3 hour tour

Well… it wasn’t really a three-hour tour, and we certainly didn’t get marooned on an island together, but on Monday evening, the Pontoon Boat was scheduled for a sunset cruise on Ahmic Lake.

Lynn took some time asking questions and getting information about some of the legends and sights on the lake, and planned a sunset cruise that Family Campers could sign up for and head out on.  Monday evening, although it had filled up quickly, only two people ended up able to go (maybe because earlier in the day the weather had not looked promising).  That opened the door for some of our staff to go who were there when Lynn found out that she was only taking two people on her cruise!

Sandy Martin (our head of hospitality), Natalie White (our program team leader), and I all hopped on the boat with Simon and Lori Miller, and set out on an adventure!

Lynn toured us around, showed us a few points of interest, and taught us things about the lake that I didn’t know!  I was really glad that I got this opportunity, because not only did I learn things, and get some spectacular sunset shots from the point where the Magnetawan River meets Ahmic Lake, but I got to get to know Simon and Lori a bit better as well, and isn’t that what Family Camp is all about?  Getting to know the people we spend our weeks with a bit better every time we come?  At least, that’s what I love about it.  IMG_7062 IMG_7063 IMG_7064 IMG_7065 IMG_7066 IMG_7067 IMG_7068 IMG_7069 IMG_7070 IMG_7071 IMG_7072 IMG_7073 IMG_7076 IMG_7077 IMG_7078

I really enjoyed the whole evening, and so I thought I’d share my sunset pictures with you!  If you’re a week 4 camper and you’re not here yet, perhaps these pictures will inspire you to keep an eye out on the lodge porch for the sign up sheet for the sunset cruise.

Grace — Jesus Nailed It

Good Saturday afternoon, everyone.  My apologies on the lateness of Friday’s blog, I was waiting on some pictures and then I got distracted by something shiny….. (tuck shop paperwork).

As I’m writing this to you, at 2 pm on Saturday, everything is wrapped up.  Everything is clean.  I hear crickets.  I’m not kidding…. all I can hear right now is the hum of the photocopier (I’m in the office), crickets, and the slight creak of the swimming dock.  It’s incredible.

During Chapel yesterday morning, John delivered his last message to us in his series on living like Jesus.  He showed us a skit guys skit on grace where Jesus and Peter were talking, and Jesus kept quietly but insistently reminding Peter of the grace he’d been offered, and he just broke when it finally hit him.  The slide that John showed after the skit had written on it “Grace — Jesus Nailed It.”  Sherri and I giggled at the pun, but in reality, the truth behind that speaks volumes.  He really did.  Jesus nailed grace on the cross.  There isn’t a better example anywhere of grace than what Jesus did for us by dying to make all of our sins, no matter what they are, forgivable.  John told us a story of a man who was driving drunk one night, causing an accident that killed an 18 year old girl.  The 18 year old girl’s parents sued the man for 1.5 million dollars, but the court case settled for a payment of 936.00, to be paid in installments of 1.00 per week each week for 18 years, one for each week that the couples’ daughter had been alive.  It makes one think though…. is 936 payments enough before grace is offered for something we’ve done wrong?  So often, we demand payments because we’ve been hurt, and we feel like it’ll make things better.  But does it?

Grace can be scandalous, costly, risky… and very healing and soothing and comforting.  I’ve heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison, hoping that the other person dies.  Bitterness and unforgiveness hold us back — it’s like driving a stake into the ground behind us, tethering ourselves to it, and then wondering why we can’t go any farther than the rope we used to tie ourselves to the stake that symbolizes what we won’t forgive.  It’s like getting a chip in your windshield, which starts as this tiny little speck that you shrug off and say “I’ll fix it later,” until you hit a bump, and it spreads.  Hit another bump, and it spreads some more.  A few more bumps, and before you know it, you have a spider web crack across your windshield so significant that you can’t see clearly anymore.  Mercy, on the other hand, is spontaneous love which comes from the depth of the love of God.  Jesus offers unconditional grace and mercy… so shouldn’t we do the same?

In the Bible, Jesus is asked how many times someone should be forgiven, because in Rabinic law, it was customary to forgive someone three times of a transgression, and if they continued to mess up, you were free to wash your hands of them beyond that.  Jesus’ answer was to forgive 70 x 7 times… or 490 times.  The question was raised then, “how do I keep track of that much forgiveness?”  Easy answer — you don’t.  If you’re keeping track, you’ve missed the point of grace and mercy entirely, and you’re not really offering it.  2 Corinthians 6 instructs us not to receive God’s grace in vain — we need to pass it on.  Because we’ve been offered grace, we need to offer it to others.  Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  We also need to admit that we’re guilty, but on the flip side of that, we need to accept that we’re valuable, loved, and forgiven.

To wrap up this last Chapel summary of Family Camp, here are four encouragements from Hebrews 12:1-2a

1.  You’re not alone.  There is a cloud of witnesses all you, including those who have gone before you.

2.  Stay focused — lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely.

3.  Hang in there — Journey with Jesus is a crazy marathon, not a 5k race that you can just do quickly and be done.  It’s ongoing.

4.  We can grieve, but with hope.  There’s a place for sadness, but our future is secure.

And there’s this song that John played for us at the end — Go Light Your World by Kathy Troccoli.

Yesterday was quite possibly the nicest day in August.  It hasn’t been this warm since mid-July.  This coming week looks to be even better, with humidex values back up into the 30s!!  While we didn’t wish chilliness and rain on Family Campers, we are incredibly thankful to have a beautiful looking forecast for kids camp programs to start back up because it’s considerably more difficult to adjust programming for kids than for families who kind of do their own thing, so Praise God for that!!  Yesterday was so lovely that the lodge was completely empty in the afternoon.  I was in my room checking something out on my computer when Irene and Chris came to my door to say “get your camera, there is NO ONE in the lodge downstairs.”  That’s the first time that’s happened in all of August.

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Over the dinner hour, we sent many of our youth who very excitedly traveled to Crown Island for a cookout.  They roasted hot dogs, ate chips, and got to swim off the rocks at the island.  Thank you to Sherri for taking pictures of this event as she’d gone across the lake with them to help supervise.  Can I just say, once again, how thankful I am to anyone who either took a camera or handed me memory cards upon return from various things that I couldn’t or didn’t get to?  It’s been marvelous.


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After our dinner in the dining hall (pulled pork… mmmm my favourite), we had the Jungle Cafe.  Dale gave us a Christian comedy magic show where, using some illusions he’d taught himself, he gave a Salvation story.  My apologies, I didn’t take notes, so I won’t remember the parts of the story that go with which pictures, but you’ll see in some of the pictures that the kids were pretty enthralled.  (Sorry about the red eye, Ella!)

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Here is a picture of Snapper, whom I named, whom I kept finding outside of my bedroom doorway in the hall upstairs.  I don’t know what the deal is, but I suspect Brenna is involved…

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And finally (and the reason that I had to wait to write the blog today, so that I had the pictures from this), Jared and Nat were actually able to take a group across the road for wilderness camping last night.  It was very fitting, as this was Jared’s final day of being Wilderness staff (for this summer, at any rate.)  Dan and Christine said it was probably the highlight of their vacation this year, and that they loved it.  Andrew and Hannah had a great time, though Andrew admitted that having to build your own shelter is pretty tiring.  Apparently though, the sticks and leaves managed to keep a lot of the dampness off of them from throughout the night, which I didn’t expect…. but it doesn’t help with the mosquitoes.  Maybe they needed Terry to sing the Mosquito song from the Talent Show on Thursday evening.  Thanks to Andrew for taking my camera across the road (and bringing it back in one piece!).  Jared had them find their own sticks and leaves, build their own shelter, and he even found them some cherries, and blackberries to eat!  He surprised even himself by making everyone some Spruce Tea as well, or so I heard.IMG_5958 IMG_5954 IMG_5952 IMG_5951 IMG_5950 IMG_5949 IMG_5948 IMG_5947 IMG_5944 IMG_5940



Kahquah’s Got Talent, Fam Camp 3 Edition

Goodness, how the end of Family Camp sneaks up on us.  I love each week of Family Camp for different reasons.  I love seeing so many people I’d otherwise never ever see.  People I’d never have met, if I hadn’t been here.  It’s bitter sweet for me, to see it end.  I remember when it started, thinking “how did we get to the end of July SO quickly?” and now here we are, mid-way through August, and I have to go back to the real world and teach some kidlets some science and some social studies in a mildly depressing 18 days.

That being said, though, let’s not let the looming end of summer get us down; let’s enjoy what’s left.  Here are the highlights from yesterday!

In the morning, we talked about God’s love for us.  When John asked us to call out love stories from the Bible, we came up with:  Ruth & Boaz, Ruth & Naomi, Jonathan & David, Isaac & Rebekah, Hosea & Gomer, The Good Samaritan, Esther, and Jesus on the Cross.  The Bible is absolutely full of love stories, because God’s love never fails.  It’s boundless.  It’s ageless.  Here’s the trouble, though.  For some of us, we understand in our heads that God is trustworthy, and that He loves us, but it stays there.  When it comes to acting on that understanding, we can fall short.  The enemy will use our distrust and misunderstanding of God’s love to make us rely on ourselves and our works to earn God’s love.  Remember what I talked about previously with being distracted from the best things by the good things?  We can let ourselves be tricked into doing good things because we have to earn God’s love, and that’s not His best for us.  When Jesus hung on that Cross, He finished the work.  There’s nothing we can do now that will either increase or diminish God’s love.  John suggested that a major reason that we hesitate to embrace God’s love is because we WANT to deserve it, and we know that we don’t.  God will take us through mountain top experiences as well as through low valleys, but we need to get to a point where we believe that nothing we do will make Him love us more or less in those places and in between, and we need to believe that He’s there with us the whole time.  This is also a challenge for us — to love not only the lovable, the lovely… but also the unlovable, the unlovely, the irritating, the socially awkward, the unfaithful.  And finally, remember, this is not a standard that we can meet on our own… that was more than likely the whole point.  We NEED to rely on God for help with this!  When we start to see the unlovely through God’s eyes, all of a sudden they’re not unlovely anymore.

Other than Chapel, there wasn’t much to report today.  I went for a run this afternoon in these crazy Northern Ontario hills, saw a frighteningly yellow mushroom on the side of the road, and figured I’d pop in at the rock wall on my way back.  I’d intended to show off the crazy mushroom picture and then take some of the kids finishing up climbing, but instead I found Chloe and Jillian closing up the wall for the season, to be reopened in the Spring.  And then I got distracted and forgot to show them the picture….  And I found a patch of very red leaves.  I wanted to scream, like in that old KFC commercial to advertise the Festive Fall Bucket or whatever, when a red leaf falls off the tree and the girl screams really dramatically….

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Then there was the Talent Show.  Kahquah’s got a lot of talent!  It was nice to see a bunch of adults and older kids out, too!  Not that I don’t love seeing little kids shine and show off their talent, because I truly do… if you were there, how precious were the Kindergarten Graduation song sung by Lauren, and the Hairbrush song sung by Rachel?  But I want to thank everyone who came out for doing so.  I can truly attest this week to how scary it can be to get up there and show off your talent, as I discovered quickly this evening that it’s really hard to play a violin when your bow arm is shaking.  Enjoy the pictures of all of the different acts!  Afterward, I know many people enjoyed Sundaes and Floats, as well as games and a time of fellowship in the dining hall.

Here are our MCs — Reagan and Natalie!


The Jungle Jaunt Song — some of the kids from the morning kids program came up to sing their theme song


Annika and Aria singing Jesus Loves Me, with verses I’d never heard before!


The Lion King Skit — these kids have been working on this ALL week!  Well done, guys!
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Rachel singing The Hairbrush song.  This was so precious.  My heart melted a little bit.
Lauren singing what I assume had been her Kindergarten graduation song.  Also, incredibly precious.


Ashley helping Preston sing a song…. which ended up mostly being Ashley singing, but Preston did a great job up there!


Shauna doing a dance she created all on her own!
Katie break dancing — this was really neat!
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Grace, Hannah, Ella, Amy, and Emma dancing.  They did a marvelous job!


Terry singing and playing guitar.  The mosquito song and the baseball song were both great!!


Oh, here’s me, fiddling.


Dale doing his disappearing banana (bandana) trick… which ended in a squished banana being flung across the chapel!  It was funny!!

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This time, Ashley got up to sing a song of her own and Preston came to keep her company.


Marcos played his guitar very well!


Rebekah joined me in showing off our violin skills.


Sophia did Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast, which will apparently be one of the audition songs for Bravo next week!

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And then her brother, Nathaniel,  got up and played a song he composed with some pretty neat effects in it!


Justin and Wyatt did a funny song/skit that had the audience participating as well!  Most of the pictures are blurry because they were jumping around like crazy, but it was quite well done!


Well, that’s it for tonight.  Enjoy your Friday!

Water Fights, The Little Mermaid, and chocolate.

Yesterday was a great day.  There was a bit of rain, but it really didn’t last that long, which was excellent.  I even saw a sizable group of people heading out, I assume with Jared to go for the Beaver Dam walk.  Though, it could have been the youth for ultimate frisbee, but I’m not sure.  I imagine that group of people were quite glad to have the rain quit shortly after it began, but I was pleased to see that no one turned around to come back as I stood in Frank and Nancy’s living room practicing fiddling for tomorrow’s talent show 🙂

And see, it did turn into a pretty nice day… even if a little chilly.


This morning in Chapel, John talked about praying like Jesus prayed, and by extension, what we call The Lord’s Prayer, which it could be argued should be called The Disciples’ Prayer.  Jesus’ Disciples had gone to Synagogue all their lives, they likely had the Torah memorized, and they knew their Psalms, which a lot of them would have used to pray, and yet they still asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  They looked at Jesus’ quiet times spent with His Father and just knew that there was something different about what He was doing compared to how they’d been doing it.  I think the biggest thing that caught my attention this morning was to give God time to answer.  Prayer should be a connection between our hearts and God’s, and when we are firing off our lists of things we need, saying Amen, and going back about our days, it gives God no chance to speak to us.  Essentially — We’re not listening.  We’re talking at God and not listening for His response.  The Lord’s Prayer has us asking for strength in our weakness, brokenness, and temptation.  It has us praising God for all He does, for who He is, and for how Holy He is.  It has us sincerely asking for forgiveness for what we’ve done against others, in a manner similar to the way that our sins have been forgiven.  It shows God that we trust His timing when we proclaim “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.”  When we say that and mean it, our agenda has to be surrendered.

The boys did indeed manage to have their water battle.  I talked with Kristen afterward and she said that about 9 boys showed up, and that once they were in the water it really wasn’t that bad temperature wise.  They were reportedly throwing around water balloons that were so tough to break though that even with digging finger nails into them, it was still tough to get them to detonate on impact like they’re supposed to.  It sounded like they had fun, though, at any rate.

The girls’ pampering night looked like a lot of fun.  They were watching The Little Mermaid, which brought back tons of memories for me.  I can remember as a little girl, I had Mom rent it so many times that they finally bought it for me.  I think they hoped I’d get sick of it and stop wanting to watch it on repeat, but that took a lot longer than I think they thought it would.

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I didn’t get a chance to talk to Frank about his seminar, but it’s been my prayer all three weeks of family camp that those in attendance were those who needed to hear what was to be said, and that there would be some practical way that you could see the information presented applied in your life — whether it’s in your own life, or in the life of someone close to you that you can then share what you learned with.

The Youth made it into Magnetawan and back safely!  They had to take two boats in, so thanks to Mike for being willing to drive a group of them in in his boat as well as using the Pontoon Boat, but it seemed like everyone who wanted to be able to go was able, and that’s always a good sign.

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Lastly, at Ladies’ Craft night, we made chocolate treats.  I made some delightfully delectable chocolate covered red licorice sticks using milk, white, and blue chocolate.  I also made a pretzel stick that was fantastic, and I’m quite content to have the recipe for them now.  Yum!!

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oh, and also, this is the face of someone who should probably NOT have switched an afternoon iced coffee habit with an afternoon nap…. bad news, bears.  I should probably not admit that this picture exists, but it struck me really funny….


Winter Carnival

It’s a lovely October morning, and….. oh, sorry, it’s August, I forgot.  It’s been quite chilly outside, and apparently Wednesday’s looking like more of the same, but we’ll survive, won’t we?  Campers are hearty folk.

This morning in Chapel, we started by watching a testimony from Charlotte Sider on the Capital Campaign about how her life with Jesus started during summer camp here at Kahquah 50 years ago.  Mine started here, too, so her story really resonated with me.  When John started to preach, we watched a video called Guys and Grills where a man called his wife on his way home from work to tell her he wanted to bless her by cooking dinner that night.  He said he’d grill some steaks… but asked her to do all the fixings up and marinate the meat for him.  All he did was fall asleep while the steaks were grilling while she went crazy.  At dinner, he exclaimed proudly that he was a great husband and that she should put her feet up and relax more often.  Funny…. that doesn’t look very much to me like the model for servanthood that Jesus laid out for us.  If we’re truly Followers of Jesus, we should be serving.  Jesus didn’t say Come and Stay.  He said Go and serve.  Paul tells us to work out our faith.  All that servanthood requires of us is an obedient heart — we don’t need to worry about not feeling equipped… if God tells us to do something, He’ll give us everything we need.  It’s also important to note that Jesus never solved any big issues entirely — disease, poverty, crime, etc…. Jesus helped one on one in the lives of many.  Jesus washed His Disciples’ feet.  Even Judas’s feet, hours before He knew Judas would betray Him.  That’s servanthood.  I’ll wrap up this summary with a thought and a quote.  Thought:  If God puts something on your heart, it’s there for you to do… not to pass off to someone else.  Quote:  My whole life, I’ve been complaining that my work kept getting interrupted, until I realized that the interruptions WERE my work.  — Henri Nouwen

This evening we had our annual winter carnival… I mean… just carnival.  It’s not really winter out there, we don’t think.  It was chilly, but there were kids out there who were being real champs, having fun regardless.  Their parents looked awfully cold, though.  Anything for candy, though, right?  A big thanks to all of the older Camper kids who helped out running the various events at the Carnival.  Our jobs as summer staff are so much easier when there are willing volunteers to help reduce the workload all around.  I think there were a few future summer staffers in the making out there.

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After that, Andrew (and Dale and Nathaniel) put on a lovely concert in the Chapel.  He suggested that the reason for the good turnout was that those in attendance would have been cold had they been elsewhere, but I suspect it has way more to do with his music than that.  He shared many of the songs that he wrote or co-wrote that are on his CD, The God Who Sees (which is for sale in the Tuck Shop for 15.00), including one that he co-wrote with his son, Noah.  He gave us the story behind the title song, The God Who Sees.  Remember Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah?  Remember how Abraham couldn’t wait for God so he took his desire for a child into his own hands and Hagar ended up pregnant?  Sarah made life so miserable for Hagar that she ran out to the desert and cried out to God — she knew He could hear her cries, but she was broken and beaten and she needed to be seen.  God assured her in that place, as He does with us no matter where we are, that He sees us, and He sees our circumstances.  It’s a beautiful song, with a beautiful message behind it.  Thanks to all who came out to the concert, and thanks to Andrew for putting it on!

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Enjoy your Wednesday, and stay warm!  Look at how cold the water looks!  And please note, there is no one sitting in the Muskoka Chairs tonight…

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