Saturday, February 21, 2015


Perrine & her mom, Dominique, in 2014
Canoe Island French Camp had the benefit of second generation counselors this past year: Perrine Torcal and Jehan Chevignard both had parents at Canoe Island French Camp in the 1980s. Perrine and her mother Dominque, who live near Aix-en-Provence, shared with us some of their souvenirs of Canoe Island and the United States. 

“I still remember my arriving to Canoe, the ferry from Anacortes, the beauty and splendor of the San Juan Islands. It was the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen so far!” she said. 
Without the internet or friends who had traveled to the US, Dominque knew little about the country.  “I still remember my first impression when I arrive at JFK airport. So scary, impressive, AMAZING, AWESOME!!!  My first words: it’s huge! Cars, buildings, roads….not what I expected,” said Dominque.  She found out about Canoe Island from her brother Jérôme Lucas who was a counselor in 1985 and 1986.  She and her brother Christophe Guguen both came to Canoe Island in 1987 and she returned in 1988.  

Perrine and Dominique found that camp is still much the same as it was in the 1980s. 
 “I know the tipi and pool decks are really recent, but a part from the installations, the sense of community and all the good moments we both spent are still the same,” Perrine said.
The spirit of Canoe is still the same and that’s a good thing,” said Dominque. 
Perrine with her tipi
Session Les Voyageurs - July 2014
Dominique worked at camp when Gus the Bus took campers and counselors on the ferry to Victoria BC.  (Gus is now retired to a shady forest glen filled with campers’ and counselors’ names and dates at camp.)  One thing that struck them both:  the friendliness of the American people.  “I did not expect American people to be so kind, generous and polite in every situation possible.  People on Canoe are the most welcoming people I’ve every known,” said Perrine.  Although Perrine returned to university at the end of camp, her mother had an American adventure with her brother, driving from Seattle to Los Angeles, teaching French in Iowa, and traveling from Chicago to Miami by Greyhound bus and on to the Bahamas.  “Needless to say, I experienced many different cultures through all those places. But there’s one thing that keeps coming to my mind when I think about it: American people’s kindness.” 

Before she arrived Perrine doubted that some of the things her mother told her would be fun. “I thought you had to be crazy to sing three national anthems every morning, that I wouldn’t like it so much, the way she did … safe to say this is not what happened!” said Perrine.
Dominique in the Maxim's in 1987
Being a camp counselor at Canoe was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, and I’m glad Perrine felt the same way so many years later. It means that Dr. Austin’s wish and dream is preserved even with another board of directors that is doing a great job. No wonder Canoe is still successful!

Connie Jones - January 2015

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