Eric Dissanayake loves exploring the great outdoors at Camp Bitobig.
One of his fondest memories involves catching a painted turtle at the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area.
When Olympian, Friend of Lake Laurentian Patron and former Bitobig camper Devon Kershaw spoke to campers while visiting Sudbury Aug. 8, Dissanayake could relate.
“It's interesting — knowing what he did, and learning what (the camp) was like when he was growing up,” the eight-year-old camper said.
Much like Kershaw, Dissanayake said he particularly likes canoeing on Lake Laurentian, catching critters and experiencing nature in its rawest form. Of course, the camp experience has been good for him, too.
“I like the counsellors and, most of all, I like all the kids here,” Dissanayake said.
Kershaw is certain kids like Dissanayake will remember the Bitobig experience for life, as he has.
Attending Camp Bitobig provided “great memories for sure,” Kershaw said. “A great place to grow up.”
“When they get older, of course (camp) will be a part of who they are. You meet great friends, and you get to explore nature together as friends. You grow up with it, which (is) cool.”
Even in his adult life, Kershaw still recalls fond memories of his days at the camp. Canoeing was a favourite pastime of his, as was playing the Survivor game. Although he's come back to the Conservation Area several times, this was his first time back at the actual camp.
“It's pretty much exactly as I remember it,” Kershaw said.
The energy the kids had even rivalled the vibe he remembered the camp having, the Olympian said.
“The stoke-level of the kids is really cool to see,” he said. “Everyone is so fired up, which is awesome. They must be doing an amazing job, because everyone is so stoked to be here.”
After discussing camp life with the kids, Kershaw also toured a new 800-metre trail at the Conversation Area. Junior Rangers from Killarney were responsible for clearing the path to the sit of a former NASA observatory.
The trail is just another initiative of the Friends of Lake Laurentian, which the community is invited to use for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and exploring.
For more information on the Friends of Lake Laurentian, visit www.nickeldistrict.ca/friendsoflakelaurentian.