As the days get shorter and the cold weather rolls in, I find myself mourning the loss of camp in a way I never thought possible. The longing started small. At the beginning of the summer, I admit that I was enjoying my garden, and like many of you, the time to invest into my home. But as the days passed I found myself longing more and more for camp. I didn’t want to be home. I yearned for the constant hum of activity and laughter. For the pure delight of learning a new skill, or the joy in making a new friend. I missed being surrounded by young people, I missed singing and eating meals in community, listening to the early morning sounds of camp waking up, and watching the magic of the day unfold.
While at home this summer, I received a great number of phone calls from staff, alumni, and moms from our Mothers and Children’s program who I know feel the same. Sometimes they’re calling just to say “hi”, other times it’s because their days are particularly challenging and they’re looking for a friend. So many are feeling the anxiety of heading back to school. It’s a tough time for parents, caregivers, teachers and students. I know that many of you are feeling anxious, scared and unprepared for the beginning of this school season. Please don’t let this time break your spirit. Stay smart, kind, and be gentle with yourselves and others. Know that I’m thinking of you.
Despite the challenges, like most things in life, adversity makes us stronger and we grow with change. Our virtual Staff Meetings and Mom’s Tea Time have become so important in maintaining and building community that we’re continuing them into the fall and winter. Our Scugog Challenges where we encourage healthy lifestyles for our LIT/JC’s and staff has had a ripple effect beyond what I could have imagined. Online work-outs have continued beyond the initial challenge, craft and book clubs have been formed, and online movie nights have become a regular activity. Our community is finding ways to stay connected, and to continue to share the strength of being paired and in tune with each other. The mental health of our people is paramount to Camp Scugog, and we endeavour to be as helpful as possible.
One of the greatest highlights for me this summer was hearing the reactions of campers who received a letter from us saying “hi” and that “we’re thinking of you”. A family of six, who share a three bedroom apartment, got so excited by the letter that they carefully constructed a “campfire” in their living room made from their most colourful towels and t-shirts. Together, they sang campfire songs and reminisced on summers past. It’s stories like this that remind me of the huge positive impact of Camp Scugog, and the tremendous resilience and creativity of our community.
The Ontario Camps Association has estimated that because of the pandemic, 40% of Ontario’s summer camps will permanently close. That’s close to a million kids without a summer home. I’m grateful beyond words that because of you, our donors and friends, we will weather this year’s storm. Because of you, we will continue to offer programming throughout the winter and fall. Because of you, we will be ready to open our gates when time allows. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Yours in camping,