Setting up camp
Brent Squirrel holds down the fort at Simpson's campgrounds

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Jul 31/98) - Campers who are looking to pitch their tents at the Fort Simpson campgrounds will have to check in with Brent Squirrel or Chris Prevost at some point.

Squirrel and Prevost are working as the campground attendants this year. This is Squirrel's second year on the job. He welcomes campers, assists them when he can and attempts to keep a stubborn bear from intimidating them. He's spotted what he's sure is the same black bear three times since he started the job on June 1.

"I was able to chase it out of here, sort of," he said, adding that he still keeps a healthy distance from the seemingly timid creature, which he believes to be a three-year-old cub.

In addition to the bear, Squirrel, 19, has met a slew of people from across Canada, the United States and even one man from Japan who arrived by kayak.

"He stayed for a week," he said. "For a small place like this, there's a lot of nice people," Squirrel commented. Others have made similar comments, he added.

When he starts his shift at 4 p.m. each day, he takes a walk around the 33-site campground to ascertain who arrived since the previous day. He collects the campground fee, informs the campers about available firewood and chats for a while.

"I answer all the questions that I can," he said.

The campground attendants work out of a well-kept little cabin on the right-hand side of the entrance way. Squirrel referred to the structure as "nice and comfortable."

Until he goes home at midnight, he also keeps busy with trimming, cleanup and general maintenance around the campgrounds.

He's on a two days on, two days off schedule until August 31.

Rain can make things monotonous, but he said he's grateful to be able to work outdoors.

Meeting the tourists is the best part of the job. No sooner did he speak the words then a couple from Quebec pulled up on the warm Saturday afternoon.