Camp Maple Leaf has, yet again, ran a series of successful summer camp sessions for military children to get outdoors, explore nature, spend a tech-free week and have the summer of a lifetime.
Camp Maple Leaf is a non-for-profit sleepover camp for both children of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) families and children living with unique challenges and is located on 104 acres of private land on Pigeon Lake in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.
Starting on July 3, Camp Maple Leaf ran five six-day sessions that were attended by more than 240 military children from six bases across Ontario.
“We are extremely happy with how well it went, with how happy the children were.
“I was talking to my director, and we were both just grinning from ear to ear because for us it was getting a new thing off the ground and we were feeling really good about what we’d accomplished,” said Kim Smith, Executive Director of Camp Maple Leaf.
This was the first summer that the camp was under Smith’s leadership.
“For our first year, I couldn’t have asked for a better start with the kids,” noted Smith.
Children from as young as seven and as old as 16, who were councillors in training, attended the camp and Smith said the staff and children engaged well for a “smooth running camp.”
Children spent their days doing a mixture of outdoor and indoor activities like swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, arts and crafts, and archery. The children also had the chance to perform an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz on the Thursday night of the camp.
These staple camp activities were mixed in with lessons on the contributions of Canadian veterans, military members and their families at the military history monument on the camp grounds.
The children also had the chance to meet a group of veterans.
“They [veterans] were really impressed with what was going on here, what the kids were doing and how happy the kids were,” remembered Smith.
Summer at Camp Maple Leaf will close off with a series of camps for disadvantaged children such as underprivileged children from Kingston, children with cranial facial differences and children with juvenile arthritis.
At the end of summer, the camp will have welcomed close to 500 children.
“Having been in the camping business as long as I have, you can try advertising and go to shows and try to meet people, but still the best thing you can do is just run a really good summer camp and the children at camp will go back and tell their friends about what a great time they had at camp. Then sooner than later you will have more kids at your camp. That was our object, and we are satisfied that we accomplished that,” said Smith.
Camp Maple Leaf was established in 1955 by the Canadian Council of War Veterans. The camp was then run by the Banyan Community Services and in 2015 ownership of the camp transferred to Kim and Marilyn Smith of the Camp Tanamakoon Charitable Foundation.