The Camp so far…
by Duncan Plaunt, Program Director
A great deal had been accomplished over the last year in the development of the property and the creation of the day camp. Brian Wharry, the Camp Director, and Bill Crooks, the former Program Director, worked over the winter and early spring on the educational program, the brochure, and the yurt purchase. They cleared the playing field and two parking lots and transformed the boathouse into a classroom. They also built (in the cold) the platform for the yurt which was constructed in May. Electricity was hooked up and gravel spread on the parking lots and pathways.
The spring concert of the Bishop’s University Singers was in support of Quebec Lodge and Bill, Nick Rasytinis and I (all staff alum) sang a song written by Nick about the camp. We performed on both nights wearing matching outfits which included oversized, sequined bow ties. To advertise the day camp we handed out flyers and spoke to interested community members at the intermission. It was great to see so many supporters of Quebec Lodge at these events.
In April, Brian, Bill, Tom Matthews and I interviewed candidates for the three summer staff positions and hired Emily Williams, Mohammad Bukhammas, and Anneka Roach. Emily, entering her final year of a Bachelor of Education, had a strong academic background and experience working with young people at the North Hatley Club. Mo, a drama student specializing in set design, appeared to have the kind of special *spark* in his attitude and humour that would fit with camp. Anneka, an education student finishing her second year, presented as reliable, resourceful, quietly confident and had a good reference from her work with younger students.
On May 21st, after 18 years of work for the camp and steadfast support of the new Quebec Lodge, Bill left for basic training to become an RCAF officer. I was appointed to replace him as Program Director, and before he left we worked together on the plans for the camp and the educational program which Bill had designed over the winter.
On May 16th, the staff met for the first time in North Hatley. We played a classic QL game called “Yee-haw Get-To-Know-You Bingo”, discussed workplace safety and then went to the site in the afternoon – where we had to sweep a layer of snow off the yurt platform. Over the summer, we worked in North Hatley in the morning developing detailed lesson plans for Fire and Water weeks and after lunch worked on the site with Brian and volunteer helpers. It soon became clear that building a path from the parking lot to the beach was the crucial task of the spring. We felt the path should be completed before the July 3rd reception so our supporters would have easy access to the beach to appreciate the full potential of the camp. For weeks and weeks, we worked on the path with pick-axes, shovels, sledgehammers, wheelbarrows, etc. It was a job! But we had fun with it too, offering to help others with tiresome cutting tasks just before completion in a joking attempt to “steal the glory”. Brian kept us supplied with cedar logs and stakes, did the chainsaw work, and designed and built the bridge that crosses part of the marsh.
On the 11th of June we participated in the Friendship Day parade in Lennoxville and through the afternoon talked to members of the public at our booth. This first experience of a parade got the staff thinking about how we could make even more of an impact at Hatley on Canada Day. Emily and her family masterminded a float driven by an ATV which won the “Special” category at Hatley on July 1st. We felt Emily’s effort merited receiving the prize money, but she insisted it be donated to the Quebec Lodge Foundation. This was a very special day for Quebec Lodge, and it was wonderful to connect with so many friends of camp. We spoke with the Tunnell family who are major donors, “Steve from Zimbabwe,” who had worked with Brian at QL in the early ‘90s, as well as Norman and Pat Webster and Margot Heyerhoff who represented the Massawippi Foundation, with whom we will be creating the nature preserve.
On the 3rd of July we welcomed the community to the site. Thank you to Ruth Sheeran, Steve Stafford, Johanne D’Iorio, and Brian for all the planning work. This was a truly magnificent day for Quebec Lodge. The weather was prefect, and the event was well attended with many enthusiastic donors and supporters. Nils Bodtker, one of our first supporters, knocked it out of the park with his speech—as he always does. When he brought the Rev Al Salt, his Camp Director in the 1950’s, up to the lectern on his arm, the camp spirit shone brightly for all to see. Quebec Lodge Foundation president Ruth Sheeran told the story of the Foundation and recalled the important early contributions of Don Wells, David Rittenhouse and Jim Ferrabee. Co-Adjutor Anglican Bishop of Quebec Bruce Myers spoke generously and eloquently in support of the new camp mission. Steve presented paintings by local artists to our four lead donors: Nils, the Tunnell family, the Webster family and the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. Norman Webster, an early supporter of the camp, recalled his long friendship with Jim Ferrabee. Brian spoke about the long struggle to save the camp, his family’s strong connection to Quebec Lodge, and revealed – to murmurs of excitement and approval – that Syrian and Iraqi refugee children would be the first group of day-campers to experience the new Quebec Lodge Outdoor Centre this summer. I spoke about the upcoming camp program and thanked Brian and the staff for their commitment to the project. Steve admirably fulfilled the role of Master Of Ceremonies. Those in attendance will not forget this day.
From the 11th-15th of July, we welcomed 20 Syrian and Iraqi refugee children. They came on a big yellow school bus from Sherbrooke each day. Thankfully, our counsellor Mohammed spoke Arabic! We wanted to give them some experience of the great outdoors here in Canada, and we focused on fun activities: morning welcome games, sports, arts and crafts, nature walks, swimming, and canoeing. The campers had a blast, with several in tears on the Friday afternoon when it all ended. We expect to repeat this camp in 2017.
From the 25th of July – 5th of August, we ran our two themed weeks of Quebec Lodge Day Camp: Fire Week and Water week. Our goal was 20 campers each week, but happily we surpassed this target with 21 the first week and 26 the second. During Fire Week, campers learned about the role of fire in the ecosystem, how to build fires and cook over them, and how to built emergency shelters. We also played games in the woods, swam, and canoed. During Water Week, campers learned about the ecosystem of the stream running through the camp property and about erosion as well as the process of filtering water. There was lots of swimming and canoeing in the afternoon. In keeping with the water theme, teams of campers built cardboard boats big enough hold a person without sinking.
Feedback from campers and parents was very positive: campers reported to their parents that they felt the Quebec Lodge staff cared about them and that the activities were fun. Campers apparently applied what they had learned at camp by helping their families light fires at home and at the cottage—and by safely putting them out! We were very happy to have many campers from quite nearby and believe we have connected strongly with the local community. We are confident that with the 2016 camp we have built a solid base of success upon which future summers will be built. Bravo to all in the Quebec Lodge community for coming together to make this happen.
Duncan at the Lennoxville Friendship Day booth