This year at Camp Fancy we were thrilled to host someone with an incredible story of Camp Fircom from an era gone by.
Lorraine Elliott (née Nishiguchi) was born in 1935 in Royal Columbian Hospital to Japanese parents. After the bombing of Pearl Harbour, Lorraine and her family were forcibly evacuated from New Westminster to a Japanese internment camp in 1942 where they lived in challenging and confining quarters. They lost all their belongings through the internment process, including their family businesses. When the war finally ended in 1945 they moved to Ashcroft, BC.
At the young age of 12, Lorraine decided that she wanted to attend Camp Fircom, a United Church summer camp on Gambier Island. Despite warnings that she would likely be the only Japanese girl at camp, she made it happen and in 1948 or 1949 a young Lorraine boarded a train to Vancouver where she was met by Miss Gertrude Patmore. Miss Patmore showed her around and billeted Lorraine until they set out for Camp Fircom.
During her time at camp Lorraine reveled in the fun of sing-alongs and took in the fun plays put on by older members.
As it turned out, Lorraine was the only Japanese girl at camp, and despite some challenges Camp Fircom left her with excitement for the future, dreaming of moving back to the big city. Through her own strength and resilience Lorraine followed her dreams and worked for many years as a nurse and air stewardess (the latter gave her the opportunity to finally visit Kyoto where her parents had been born).
On Saturday, April 27th, 2019 Lorraine came back to Camp Fircom for the first time since that camp so many years ago.
In her own words:
It was so wonderful to see the Jubilee Hall as I remember it however was so surprised that it was as small as it was—of course everything looks so big when you are a 13 year old coming from a small town of Ashcroft. I enjoyed the walking tour of the grounds even the electrical panels of the near new generators. The chapel in the woods was tranquil and it would be easy to feel God’s presence and nature.
I loved the Dining Hall and it was so beautifully set for Lunch—almost like a Wedding reception. The food was especially scrumptious and so lovingly prepared.
I bid on Yvonne Wakabayashi’s silk cover-up and will enjoy wearing it. Incidentally my Mother’s maiden name was Wakabayashi.
We were honoured to have Lorraine with us, and we are always so excited when former Fircomites get in touch. We look forward to having you up at camp again Lorraine!