I am going to be painfully honest here, right up front – I am not a camper. I do not enjoy ‘roughing it’. Campfires are nice, but there are a lot of bugs and then everything smells like smoke. (Please don’t confuse campfires with a corn roast – those are totally different things) The lack of showers and laundry facilities and packing up everything you need for a week, only to haul it back home, just doesn’t appeal to me. HOWEVER, Goose and the kids love it. When we were invited to join some other blogging families at Ontario Pioneer Camp a couple of weekends ago, I gritted my teeth and committed to going before I could think about it too much. If I hadn’t plunged right in, my kids would have never had one of the best times of their short lives.
I had never been to camp as a kid. In fact, I had never slept anywhere but a hotel or someone’s house until I met Goose. His family regularly visits extended family and stay in their cottages, but that’s as close as it gets. It had never really occurred to me to send our kids to camp, but our weekend at OPC just might have changed my mind.
Ontario Pioneer Camp is a Christian camp that begin in 1929. It has expanded over the years and now includes 1200 acres and five different sites around Lake Clearwater, in Ontario’s Muskoka region. A part of Inter-Varisty Christian Fellowship, everything done at OPC
‘is for the purpose of helping children and youth grow spiritually, mentally, socially and physically in a fun-filled and safe place of adventure and challenge. We invite campers to consider what the Bible has to say to them about their relationship with God and each other’
Ontario Pioneer Camp Review
Along with all the fantastic activities that the kids were able to participate in – canoeing, dodge ball, swimming, rock wall climbing, rope climbing, ultimate Frisbee, a cake decorating competition, and s’mores making around the camp fire to name a few – there was definitely something more to Ontario Pioneer Camp. If I had to put my finger on it, it would probably be the ease with which inclusion is handled at the camp. Instead of labeling some children as having ‘exceptionalities’ or worse yet, as being ‘a problem’, the leaders are instructed that this is a child for whom ‘extra grace is required’. No segregation, no scarlet letter, no specially trained personal assistant. Just the acknowledgement that sometimes, for some kids, a little extra help will go a long way. Way too many flying insects right now? OK, let’s find an indoor activity for you to do – the games room is always available. The lunch hall is just too loud and busy? No problem – take your plate to the deck – just bring it back in when you are done. Need absolute assurance that there aren’t any spiders in your cabin? Leaders will do a thorough spider check – every night if necessary. No one is singled out and everyone is made to feel like an equal member. That is a rare and special place indeed.
Having now experienced Ontario Pioneer Camp first hand, I would not hesitate to send any of our children there. If a week-long, Christian sleep away camp experience is something you’d like your child to experience (and I really, really hope you do), OPC has given me a discount code you can use. Typing in MBAMama16 when you register entitles you to $50 off per child per week. If you find a friend to come along with you (who has never been before), you can shave an additional $75 off your fee. If your family could use additional funding assistance, please call the office for scholarship and alternative payment information.
If you’re not ready to send your kids on their own, family camps are available. While there are plenty of activities available, participation in all of the events is by no means necessary. OPC really is a special place that I hope many more families get to enjoy.