2019 marks Camp Kitchikewana’s 100th anniversary and the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka is celebrating by honouring it’s past and helping to secure its future.
Over the past five years, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has been hosting yearly “decade reunions” for all of its alumni campers, staff, volunteers and friends of Camp Kitchikewana. These events gave our alumni the opportunity to connect with fellow campers and staff from their camp “era,” who they may not have seen in years. The positive feedback has been tremendous!
The celebration will continue to take place at Camp Kitchikewana from September 6th to 8th, with over 400 camp alumni and friends returning to Beausoleil Island in celebration of this exciting milestone. It will be an opportunity for alumni to “come home” to camp and reconnect with friends. Participants will take part in camp traditions including waking up to the morning bell, flag raising, morning dips, camp songs, activities (swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, crafts) and so much more! The alumni Advisory Committee and camp staff will also unveil a plaque honouring 20 camp alumni. These individuals embodied the YMCA core values during their time at Camp Kitchikewana, and had a profound impact on the camp.
100 years of camp tradition
For 100 years, YMCA Camp Kitchikewana has been offering traditional summer camp programs for youth. Today, it offers overnight camp programs for kids and youth ages 6 to 16 in July and August and programs for all ages in the spring and fall seasons. Located on Beausoleil Island in the beautiful Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Camp Kitchikewana’s mission is to challenge youth to be the very best they can be. Through a range of skills, outdoor activities and interactions with others, campers are encouraged to challenge themselves while building self-confidence, having fun, and creating lasting friendships.
Since it opened its doors in 1919, Camp Kitchikewana, with the generous support of alumni, has modernized its facilities, adding new cabins, washrooms, docks, sailboats, canoes and a state-of-the-art kitchen. In addition to the traditional programs including land and water activities, the camp also offers overnight canoe trips, a high school credit program, school group outdoor education and volunteer programs.
Protecting the future
Camp Kitchikewana has a strong legacy of receiving charitable support through the generous efforts and gifts from our alumni and supporters. As part of the 100th celebration, we have launched the Camp Kitchikewana 100th Endowment Fund. The goal of this fund is to raise two million dollars to help ensure the continuing development of children in spirit, mind and body while strengthening Camp Kitchikewana’s legacy for another 100 years. We are pleased to announce that donations are being generously matched, dollar for dollar, by our lead alumni donor, Paul Lawrence.
Proceeds from the Endowment Fund will be used to enhance the camper experience including replenishing, repairing and replacing program equipment and maintaining, improving and repairing facilities used by the campers. Last year the endowment proceeds were used to purchase new canoe paddles and this year’s proceeds have been used to buy guitars for campers to learn how to play during their time at camp.
Thank you to Paul Lawrence, alumni and everyone who continues to support Camp Kitchikewana. We look forward to celebrating our 100th anniversary with you! Together, we can continue to build and strengthen youth empowerment for future generations to come.
Rob Armstrong is President and CEO of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; focused on investing in communities, ensuring all people have access to the Y and implementing programs that are helping thousands of youth and families to learn and thrive. Prior to joining the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in 2011, Rob held senior leadership positions at the YMCA of Edmonton, YMCA of Owen Sound, YMCA of Cambridge and most recently YMCA Ontario. Rob holds an Honours degree in Physical and Health Education from Queen’s University and has since augmented his education with advanced courses from the Harvard Business School of Entrepreneurship, Ivy School of Business and Queen’s University Executive Education Program.
Since coming to Simcoe/Muskoka, Rob has taken an active leadership role in the Child, Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County and Barrie’s Pathways to end homelessness. He served on a number of boards including local Community Foundations, Affordable Housing, Parks and Recreation Ontario and the Minister of Health Promotions Health Advisory Committee.