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  • Writer's pictureJosette Abruzzini

Lessons from Catamaran Park

Part 2 in a series of posts called My Newfoundland.

In my first post did I mention that many of my stories are decades old?

Every so often someone does something that affects generations to come. When Dad purchased an old Airstream trailer in 1969, he did such a thing.

Other than an occasional fishing trip with his buddies Dad had never slept out of doors, and my mother was not the type to rough it. But that “vintage” trailer, as they’d call it today, set my family on a path that still brings the Kenny’s together.

The aluminum exterior had long lost its shine by the time Dad parked it in the far end of our backyard. He gutted its interior – yes, it was that old - and built three long fold-out benches for the six of us to sleep. He also rigged a collapsible table. There was a counter area but no running water. “This is camping,” he said. “There’ll be running water nearby.”

Mom arranged for plaid earth-tone cushions and she even papered the inside walls. We were thrilled to take our first trip to Notre Dame Park, but it was not what we’d imagined. The four of us kids knew to keep quiet in the back seat of the V-8 Mercury Marquis as Dad clumsily tried to maneuver the trailer onto a narrow campsite. He finally did, but the entire weekend was cold and rainy. It’s a wonder we didn’t just give up on the whole camping idea, but we tried again a few weeks later.

It was the third week of June. School was out for the summer and we headed twenty miles down the highway to Catamaran Park on Badger Lake. We held our breath as Dad tried to back the trailer into the lakeside lot. Easy peasy. The sun was shining. The trailer stayed where it was – until Labor Day. (Campsite rental was a mere $1.50/night!) Dad drove to town each morning for work, and Mom and the rest of us went down on Thursdays for groceries (and her standing hair appointment). It was the start of what turned into fifty plus years at Badger Lake.

Our three summers of camping and summer sports at Catamaran Park Camping did more than bring us together as a family. It helped shape each of our approach to life. Here are some of the lessons I learned at Badger Lake…

Enjoy the good days.

Let the sun shine upon you and warm you, but remember…

Moderation is the key…

Don’t get sunburned. It’ll sting later on.

And use suntan lotion.

Thank your Mom for making you use Coppertone!

Looks can be deceiving…

Don’t judge the warmth of the water by the temperature of the air.

Know what you’re getting into. That said -

Don’t be afraid of a little discomfort…

Cold water can be invigorating!

Appreciate your shelter…

as you gather around that tiny table on a wet day

or lay awake in bed listening to sheets of rain pour down onto a noisy metal roof.

Sometimes it’s enough to know there's a roof over your head for when you need it.

Plant seeds for the future…

Play the card games of your ancestors

and play new games as well.

Teach others to play.

Listen to the sounds of every day…

like to the clatter of a rolling log and the cracks and spits of a campfire.

They’ll echo in your ear forever.

Celebrate life’s happy moments…

Sing the songs of a happy people -

They’ll lighten your days forever.

Make new friends…

Reach out to your neighbors up the beach.

Their children will grow up with yours.

You’ll keep each other company for decades.

Pay attention to the masters…

They’ll introduce you and yours to new joys.

They’ll teach a man who cannot swim to glide across the water on two skiis.

They’ll teach your children to hone their skills, no matter what they do in life.

Be safe…

A life-jacket can save your life.

It can also teach you to have faith, and that will get you through the hard times.

We all need a little help and inspiration along the way.

Find your own fun…

There’s no need to ever be bored. Just look around.

Make do with what you have…

Know what’s in your coolers and cans.

You have enough.


Substitute ingredients if you have to.

There are many ways to figure things out.

Plan A is not always an option.

Breathe in …

the pine-scented air

as it plants seeds of who you are – a child of Newfoundland.

With love to my siblings, Scott, Jackie and Jennifer, to our Catamaran friends, the Pearsons, Dawes and Reids, and to the water-skiing master of Catamaran Park, Danny Courtney.

Catamaran Park still attracts hundreds of families to beautiful Badger Lake each year, despite the forest fire of 1986. That’ll be a story for later…

Twice a teacher and always a writer, Josette Abruzzini is a native Newfoundlander and a current Pennsylvanian. As a child she wrote letters to her favorite aunts. As a teacher she enjoyed writing report card comments and letters to parents. In time she realized her love for writing about Newfoundland and anything else that caught her curious eye.

Visit Josette’s webpage at ,

or her Facebook author page at

Thanks for your likes and comments!

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