A photo of pop-up camping tents at night set up near trees.
There is optimism for the 2022 summer camp season – especially hopeful news for vulnerable children and teens. 

Catherine Morin and Jerome Ben Tolila, representatives from Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions, visited our virtual club meeting on January 20 to provide an overview of their organization’s annual Kids to Camp program, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected it and campers. 

The program funds summer day- and overnight-camp experiences for children and youth, who have experienced life trauma and are supported by the organization. 

“Because of COVID, the past couple years have been different,” said Catherine. “Two years ago, we weren’t able to send any kids to camp. Everything was shut down. Fortunately, last year we were able to send a few.” 

She noted the organization worked with its camp partners to send 83 children and youth, including 12 from Muskoka, to day camp in 2021. The organization also created and distributed Camp in a Box activity kits for children and youth to enjoy at home. Eighteen kits came to Muskoka.  

Usually, the organization would send 300 to 500 kids to camp per year. 

Team members, she said, were hopeful the 2022 camp season would see more camp spaces available, especially overnight camp options, as provincial pandemic conditions improve. That would mean more kids could go, which was especially important after two difficult years filled with uncertainty, isolation, and virtual school. 

“We want to try to give them an opportunity to go and enjoy being a kid for a week,” she said. “And also, for the parents, to give them a little break.” 

Catherine added that many a childhood memory is made at camp. 

“I remember going to summer camp when I was a kid. It’s something that stays with you,” she said. “This is why we are hoping to get support again this year.” 

The Rotary Club of North Muskoka has financially contributed to the Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions Kids to Camp program since 2013, which has given dozens of Huntsville and area children a chance to learn skills, build confidence, create friendships, and make positive memories.  

Catherine noted the cost to send kids to camp had not changed much in 2022, compared to 2021. Day camps are expected to range from $100 to $250 per week, depending on how specialized they are, while overnight camps could range from $500 to $1,000. And each Camp in a Box activity kit for home use costs about $60. 

She added the organization is grateful to its program donors, partner camps, and volunteers for helping to make the annual camp program a reality.  

Club President Suzanne thanked Catherine and Jerome for the presentation and noted club members would soon be in talks to consider support for the 2022 camp season.