Baptism of Fire

November 26th, 2012 in Yesterday

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Our youngest son Bryce was our first host at High Camp when we started running it in 1994.  He took a quarter off from Western Washington University in order to work during winter season.  Sounds like FUN!  Sounds perfect for a young outdoor minded guy who needs a break from his college studies.  And it was!  It was also a huge challenge.  This month Bryce is turning 40.  He has a beautiful wife, Katy, and two incredible daughters:  Eva who is 8 and Audrey who is 6.  His life has changed profoundly in the past 18 years.  Bryce brought his family up to High Camp this past weekend.  He was joined by his older brother Erik, Erik’s wife Lena and their two beautiful daughters:  Sierra who is 7 and Renate who is 4.  Family fun at High Camp is a tradition!  Bill and Peg Stark, High Camp founders, were deeply dedicated to bringing moms and dads to Scottish Lakes with their kids.  It is our pleasure to continue this tradition.  I know each time Bryce returns to High Camp he is flooded with memories of the times he was on staff in the early days.

We only had one host during that first season.  There were not as many people coming to Scottish Lakes and we also did not foresee the difficulties encumbered in staffing High Camp.  On one level it seemed simple:  (1)  Bring guests to High Camp (2)  Take care of the guests (3)  Take them out at the end of their stay.    As the season unfolded simple turned to complex:  shovel deep snow, clean and set up cabins, make sure the snowmobile was up and running, warm up the Tucker snocat and get it in position, make sure the route to High Camp was open so you could get up and down, ski the trails so the guests can find their way…the list was endless.  Since we all were so new to this experience, we had no way of knowing the demands on the staff.

You just could not predict what would happen next!  You still can’t, but thank goodness the events don’t come as fast and furious as they did in that first year.  One story I remember was New Year’s Day, 1995.  We had been open for less than three weeks.  Don and I had spent New Year’s Eve at High Camp, then headed over to the west side to spend some time with Don’s parents.  Bryce stayed at High Camp since we still had a few guests after the holiday rush.  It was cold up there that day and the lodge wood stove was cranked up high!  At that time water in the lodge was heated by a rather outdated quaint system where the water pipes went directly through the fire box of the stove so the fire could heat the water.  The water rose up into a tank which was located on the second floor of the lodge.  Additional pipes led from this hot water tank (not electric, just a holding tank) down along the wall to the faucet at the kitchen sink.  At best, it was a clumsy set up.  At each pipe juncture there was leakage! So along the wall where the pipe lengths were joined hung little buckets to catch drips.  The pipes even dripped inside the stove were they came together!  It smoked like crazy and the fire could never really get hot enough to heat the lodge.  Anyway…it was a cold and stormy night…Bryce cranked up the fire the best he could to stay warm and curled up with a good book.  Suddenly rain was coming down upon him in the form of scalding water.  The fire was so hot it was heating the water to boiling and the system couldn’t handle it.  We got a call that night as Bryce was cleaning up and drying out from his baptism of fire!  Just another in a long line of challenges faced in that first year.

These anecdotes could go on forever.  We soon realized we needed two staff people working together in those early years, especially since we still lived over on the west side.  Bryce’s good friend Paul Fraser joined him and they formed a strong team to face the many crisis that erupted during those first High Camp years.  I always figured Bryce might as well have joined the Marines!  Those early experiences at Scottish Lakes perfectly prepared him for life’s bumpy road.