By Sandra K. Klassen –
As children in the 60s and 70s, my sister and I were members of the Blue Fin Swim Club. These were pre-swanky swimming pool days: our team trained at Scout Island. Our training took place within the confines of a set of square docks and we swam rain or shine. Practices wound up with 80 laps made up of four different strokes: butterfly, backstroke, crawl, and breaststroke. One day I complained to my mom, who was pacing along the docks as we swam our “cool-down” 80 laps, that the cold-water lapping against my forehead with every stroke was giving me a headache. She told me to keep swimming! I did. And I continued to “cool down,” no doubt.
Exciting family events took place at Scout Island, as well. We had watermelon races where children were grouped according to age then a huge watermelon was tossed into the water about 10 metres from the beach. Each group took turns lining up on the beach and when the whistle went it was a mad scramble to first find the watermelon then wrench it out of the arms of others. The beautiful clearness of the water made spotting the watermelon easy. The next feat was to find a way to shore then dashing, with the watermelon bobbing around in our skinny short arms, to the finish line. Tripping with the watermelon was avoided. Not much fun flat on one’s face in the sand with a smashed watermelon seeping into your swimsuit.
A second event, including adult swimmers, was a cross-lake swim. Swimmers started the swim at a little beach on South Lakeside and the finish was Scout Island. Boaters bobbed alongside us, a safety measure I, as a 10-year-old, found reassuring. The distance was over a mile. Participants staggered onto shore at Scout Island, feeling at one with the lake.
Back then, our family lived on Gibbon Road in the Dog Creek Road area. On a sunny morning, we children would pack our swim bags and a lunch and walk the 4.5 km cross-country route down to Scout Island for the day. We picked up friends along the way. Part of the pilgrimage to Scout Island was through a cow pasture where the present-day Terra Ridge housing complex sits. Back then, the sleepy cows seemed unsurprised at our troupe of Scout Island enthusiasts. We continued across the field where Wholesale Foods and Canadian Tire are located today.
Our first body of water on our trek to Scout Island was the Williams Lake River, where the bird sanctuary is today. Our group spent a fair bit of time swimming in the river, slipping off the grassy banks into the refreshing water, feeling our feet against the sandy and pebbly bottom. Eventually, we placed our swim bags on our heads and waded across the river and carried onto Scout Island.
With our swim bags hastily dropped on the beach, we raced into the lake, diving and splashing, in and out of the water a hundred times. Eventually, someone would get hungry and we sat on our towels and lunched together, enjoying the beauty of the pristine lake before us, and the fellowship of swimmers.
Around 3:00, my mom would arrive in the big family station wagon and all of us would pile in for the sleepy, pleasurably exhausted trip home. We all went to bed those nights dreaming and hoping of the next sunny trip to a child’s paradise: Scout Island.
Sandra, a Laker, wishes she was a lot smarter, better looking, and that she had become a private investigator. She has many interests and loves to write about them. Overall, she is high on life in the Cariboo and credits that to the great locals and beautiful landscape that surrounds us.