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As the Registrar for Outdoor Education and Group Rentals here at Camp Kawartha, the dramatic annual transition of the site into a vibrant Summer Camp every year is something I look forward to with unabashed awe, perhaps like a first time visitor may look at Niagara Falls, mouth open, eyes squinting in the mist and ears ringing from the deafening roar.

Every year I try to learn more about this phenomenon known as Camp. I was never a camper as a child (descriptors such as “Mama’s girl” or “homebody” come to mind) so I love asking those around me what made their summer experience here so great and kept them coming back.


From my research, one of THE BEST parts of Camp is what is known around here as “Out Tripping”. Full of adventure and new experiences, canoe trips are offered to campers 11 years old and up in our 2 week overnight sessions and as a stand-alone session starting at age 12. Trips can range from one overnight for the youngest campers to 10 days in the Wilderness Leadership Programs for ages 16-17.

SC2015JT2A former camper who progressed to being a counsellor recalls taking 6, 12-year-old girls with basic canoeing skills on their first overnight trip. There is no better way to learn to function as a team than being put in a canoe with 2 other campers and encouraged to figure out how to make the canoe go forward (and preferably towards your destination). Portaging all of your worldly goods over challenging terrain with another person who is carrying an overturned canoe over their head is a bonding experience like no other.

campfireOut tripping inspires a feeling of accomplishment. You “get it done”, you find out what you’re made of, you connect with your surroundings because you need to. It is about personal development but it’s also about helping others develop and making choices that are for everyone’s benefit. Counsellors, certified in wilderness first aid and life-guarding, were campers too. They know what to say and do to help campers reach goals they may not have ever thought they could.

Whacky experiences, strange weather, sore muscles are examples of the adversity you share together and overcome together. It’s the kind of thing that brings you back to civilization smelling a little worse than when you left but grinning ear to ear.