Monday, March 7, 2016

The time is right for a transition

Bow Narrows angler Jim Tegtmeier with Brenda and me at the boathouse in 2015. Jim has been to camp something like 75 times! There have been about 20,000 guests at camp in my family's 56-year history. Many of them have come for 20 years or longer.

This will be Brenda’s and my 25th year operating Bow Narrows Camp. We also worked at camp as a couple while we were attending university for six years when my dad owned it. And before even that, I grew up there and worked as a guide from the time I was just nine years old until I was 18, and Brenda worked two years at the camp before we were married. In addition, we also had other careers, Brenda as a teacher and me as a journalist.
A funny thing has happened over those years – we’ve gotten older!
Working and living at Bow Narrows Camp might possibly be the best job in the world. Our guests are like family and everyone is having a great time. We spend a lot of time outdoors and the summer weather is fabulous. We’re blessed with an outstanding fishery and our boat-in ability gives us the best of all worlds – unspoiled remote wilderness without the high cost of operation that fly-in camps must endure.
But it is also a physical job and one that is getting to be too much for our near-65-year-old bodies. It is time for a transition, time to let someone else take over. We’ve been preparing for this event for several years now. If Brenda and I are ever going to have a retirement and do the things other people do in the summer, we need to sell the camp, but we want to do it in a way that turns over the operation seamlessly to the next owners so that our customers continue to enjoy the tradition of fishing at Bow Narrows.
Years ago we met Brian Dykstra, an agent with Royal LePage Realty. Brian is a former camp owner and has played important roles in Northern Ontario tourism for the past three decades. He specializes in selling camps and lodges and knows more about the outdoor tourism business than anyone we’ve met. He has a genuine passion for it and, in particular, has the talent of matching the right new owners with the right camp so that everyone is successful and the business continues to thrive.
Bow Narrows Camp is now listed with Brian at All inquiries and information about the sale should be made to him, not us. Right until the moment we sell, we’ve got our hands full just running the place.
The time is right to make this transition, not only for us but for our customers. Everyone wants to see Bow Narrows Camp continue just as it has for the past 56 years. It is one of Northwestern Ontario’s finest fishing camps. Our history has been one of relentless upgrading and improvements, and any new owner will find a thoroughly up-to-date and modern facility.
Brenda and I intend to stay in the area and build a cabin on property we own on the other side of the narrows. Once that is done who knows, we might even spend the summers fishing!
Selling a business like this can take a while, years even. That is why we are starting now. In the meantime it is full steam ahead, just like always. We will continue improving everything, updating our boats and motors and remodeling cabins. We just don’t know any other way to do it.
At some point, however, there will be new owners and these people will bring a new vitality to the operation. We will support them every way we can so that they will have as wonderful a life at Bow Narrows Camp as we have had.
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Anonymous said...

Dan and Brenda,
I, as you know, have been coming opening week for the last 16 years. I'm sure that all of Bow-Narrows guests will be sad to see an era come to an end. Although the fishing will remain the same, it just won't be the same camp without the both of you.
You have made some wonderful improvements over the last 16 years. Making things much better for us older guests.
My only concern is that the rates will most likely go up considerably, making it difficult for some of your current guests to make the trip.
Having said that, I will try to make it back to camp as many times as I can as long as the both of you are still there. I know there comes a time when we all must retire and enjoy our lives.
I will be seeing you opening week once again. Wishing you the best of luck on the sale.
Indiana Dave

Joe Overman said...

Dan and Brenda,
I have been dreading this day for a long while. I know you will make the best choice for a buyer, but something will be missing. I have so many awesome memories from my 35+ years of Bow Narrows. I will still have them. Rik and I actually floated the idea of purchasing the camp from Don. We asked him when he was going to retire...He said he already was retired! Looking forward to seeing you in May.

Anonymous said...

Wow I am speechless and that does not happen often.
Dan & Brenda,
I can't think of 2 people that deserve our best wishes and thanks more than you!!! I can't think of 2 people that will be missed more than the 2 of you!!! Our trip to Bow Narrows lasts a week and half each July, but it fills up the whole year with laughter, memories and anticipation of our trip next July.
Looking forward to seeing you in July and after the sale seeing you on the lake and swapping tales and fishing tips.
If you ever get to Texas you will always have a place to stay. Brenda won't have to cook and Dan won't have to get our boat ready.
Best wishes on the sale and your retirement.
Your friend Larry Pons

Dan B. said...

Thanks for everybody's best wishes.
We're not leaving the planet, you know, just going across the narrows! You are all welcome to visit any time you want.
Whenever new owners are found they will very likely operate the business similar to us considering our long success. Certainly they will have new ideas and will bring with them new energy and vitality. That's what happened when we took over from my dad a quarter century ago. That's called growth and is just what is needed to keep Bow Narrows moving ahead.

Lonnie and Mike said...

Mike and I were speechless, also, because we had just talked about you two and you retiring was in the conversation. WOW!! You both have earned a happy and (hope) healthy retirement. When you're giving the new owners the rundown about the regulars, just tell them I'm a nice, quiet, little old lady from Ohio. I'll break them in easy!! (ha-ha) We'll see ya in August!!! Love you both!!!