Camp Kwasind – 1990s

Karen Palmer (née Hale)

As a child, I always looked forward to the summers and having the opportunity to go to Camp Kwasind.  I was first introduced to the camp in 1989, and as a twelve-year-old, I was eager to spend a week away from home, meeting new friends and making new memories.  I was not disappointed.  I immediately felt welcome at Kwasind, even though I was a first-time camper!  I made many new friends my first year at camp and continued to build on special friendships each year I returned.  I loved being a part of such a fun, friendly environment…never a dull moment!  Camp counsellors and campers were always there for a friendly conversation, to share a joke and include you in activities.  So many great memories of Kwasind have stayed with me over the years. Canoe trips to Hatchery Falls, camp-wide Capture the Flag games, Banquet nights, quiet daily reflections on Vesper Rock, hikes to the Pebble, campfire skits, penny candies at the Tuck Shop (black balls were my favourite!), making gimp bracelets in the craft cabin, and so much more!  I loved receiving a camper address list at the end of each week… I had many pen pals to exchange letters with over the year (this was long before email existed!). As I returned to Kwasind each summer, my stays were longer, and my friendships became stronger!  It was nice to have the opportunity to see my Kwasind friends outside of the camp months too….the bond has never broken!

Years have passed and now my own children (aged 11 and 8) are attending camp and LOVE IT!  We also have been to Celebration Weekend for 4 years and I love to reconnect with other Alumni.  It’s amazing to see that although there have been some structural changes to Kwasind since I was there as a camper, the feeling of inclusiveness and kindness among the staff and campers has not changed!  Being a Kwasind camper was a huge positive influence in my childhood. I love that my children now get to experience the same feelings I had 30 years ago!

Sue (Campbell) Wakefield – 90s camper

The first time I came to Camp Kwasind, I felt right away that something was different. The staff were so full of joy in everything they did, I couldn’t help but feel it too. It didn’t matter who I was back at school in Hamilton, Ontario. It didn’t matter who wore what clothes. It didn’t matter what you were good at, or if you were good at anything at all. At Camp Kwasind everyone was loved. Everyone’s talents were amazing. Being silly was admired. Being crazy was celebrated. There was no such thing as being embarrassed. The world felt different because everyone was loved and everyone belonged.

I spent every summer at Camp Kwasind, and as soon as I could I volunteered as a Junior Counselor and then a CIT. And when I didn’t get a full-time counselor job the first year I turned 16 (they only hired 3 girls at the time!) I took a job in the kitchen just to keep coming to camp. And if I hadn’t gotten that paid job I probably would have worked for free. I got excited at the start of every summer and I cried my heart out all the way back to Barrie when it was over.

My children who are now old enough to go to camp themselves have tried several different overnight camps but they only want to come back to Kwasind. I don’t think it’s the property, the activities or the food. I believe deep in my heart that it is the people. The way that they radiate love and acceptance to each and every child who comes here. It is of course the touch of God. Above all of the Christian churches, cathedrals, ceremonies and monuments I have experienced in my life, it is at Camp Kwasind that I have come closest to seeing and feeling God.

When I think about who I am and what I cherish most about my childhood, so much of it tracks back to Camp Kwasind: my best friends, my first loves, my deepest sorrows and finding inner strength I didn’t know I had. I owe so much to this wonderful, beautiful property nestled on the bay of Skeleton Lake and I am forever grateful.