Christine and Carole Alumni Day

Christine and Carol Share Their Story

“It was like a dream come true to go to Moorelands Camp and escape from the traffic noise, pollution and congestion…”

Christine and Carol's Moorelands Story

Christine and Carole at Alumni Day
Christine and Carole at Alumni Day

At Alumni Day 2017 (July 15th) we got the chance to catch up with two campers from the 1960s, sisters Christine and Carol. Here, Christine tells their story:

“Moorelands Camp at Beaverton first came to our attention through Constance Hood who of St. Stephen’s-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, and through her, we joined this church shortly after moving to Toronto.  She also happened to be one of the directors of the DCA and a well-known leader at the camp.  I attended the girls’ camp for 5 years in the early ‘60s and my sister, Carol, attended for 3 years starting in the late ‘50s.

Moorelands Camp at Beaverton

“We have great memories of Moorelands Camp which was situated on a very picturesque area of land overlooking Lake Simcoe. There was a fair bit of lawn all through the camp, so it was not a rustic setting by any means.  The three long dormitories for the campers were named:  Sunset (the yellow one), Lakeview (green), and Woodlands (brown), and there was also this lovely quaint chapel at the far end of camp that had this lovely pine smell as you entered.

Bishop Hunt, Constance Hood & Beatrice Thorne circa 1962
Bishop Hunt, Constance Hood & Beatrice Thorne circa 1962
Carol in 1961
Carol in 1961

Memories to Last a Lifetime

“The swim lessons were invaluable in helping to overcome my fear of water.  My first year, the biggest thrill was being awarded a copper cup for most improved swimmer.  Carol’s most memorable highlight was winning the reward for having the neatest dorm.  She was so motivated to win that she and her roommate ended up cleaning some of the other campers’ rooms!  In the end, it was worth all their hard work.

“Meal times were fun. We sang and clapped to the “gilly gilly wash wash” song, with each table shouting out the names of various tribes assigned to us.  The food was excellent and nourishing. As there was no automatic dishwasher back then, an adult volunteer washed the dishes and the campers took turns in groups, drying them – a somewhat daunting task – but there was also a sense of accomplishment and relief when we finished.

Looking Back at How Camp Was

“Nightly entertainment in the rec hall for skits, songs, and games was so enjoyable.  The variety of crafts, the tuck shop, mail time, and the long walk to the town of Beaverton also stand out.  Then there were the flag raising/lowering ceremonies.  Each morning three campers were assigned to hoist the flag up the pole and each evening three more would lower it.  We always felt a bit nervous hoping we wouldn`t mess up!

“The evening campfire was something we all looked forward to.  They always started out with “Fire’s Burning” and ended with “Day is Done”. Although there was no archery, kayaking or canoeing, there was plenty to keep us busy.

“After Moorelands, I attended Camp High Adventure on Sparrow Lake for two years. We both started full-time work right after high school as money was tight back then.  Apart from raising our own families, Carol has been, and is still, heavily involved with her Anglican Church for the past 40 years, lending her time and support where needed.  I went back to college 15 years ago, completing a legal diploma program, while also doing volunteer work at a retirement home.

Christine in Toronto, 1966
Christine in Toronto, 1966
Christine at Camp in 1966
Christine at Camp in 1966
Christine and Carol relive memories at alumni day
Christine and Carol relive memories at alumni day

The Importance of Giving Back

“Moorelands taught us early on about giving back to the community in the same way we were helped.  We are grateful to Mrs. Hood and the DCA to have given us this opportunity as we lived in one of the busiest streets in downtown Toronto, and right across from a busy car wash at that, so it was like a dream come true to escape from the traffic noise, pollution and congestion!”

Share YOUR Story Too!

We love reading the stories of those who have been to Moorelands – either as participants or staff. Alumni, why not share your own Moorelands story too?

Don’t forget to sign up to join our Alumni Group to keep up to date with alumni news and events and opportunities to get involved with Moorelands.

Sandy Allin at Moorelands AGM 2017

Sandy Allin’s Moorelands Story

“My love affair with Moorelands began at age six and continues to this day – 60 years later – amazing!”

Sandy's Story

Beaverton Station in the 1950s
Beaverton Station in the 1950s

It was 1956 at the end of the polio scare when Sandy Allin was whisked out of the city with her grandmother to attend Moorelands Camp for the first time.

“There was a push to get children out of the city and away from the heat and the humidity,” Sandy explains, “I was so excited as we met all the other mothers and children at Union station – I’d never been on a train before!”

Moorelands Camp is Freedom to Kids

The Mothers and Children program, at Moorelands’ original site at Beaverton, gave relief to Toronto’s low-income families.  Just like today, campers were given the chance to enjoy a break from the city and grow in character and confidence.

Sandy is enthusiastic as she describes why Moorelands Camp is of such benefit to low-income children:

“It’s the appreciation of fresh air, water and nature.  Moorelands Camp is freedom to kids…  The chance to just be free, that’s what’s stayed with me all this time.”

Campers enjoy a swing in the fresh air at Beaverton.
Campers enjoy a swing in the fresh air at Beaverton.
The infirmary at Kawagama in the 1970s
The infirmary at Kawagama in the 1970s

Sandy returns to Moorelands at Kawagama

Sandy returned to Moorelands year after year until, aged 16, she came back as a counsellor. Her growth continued even as the camp moved to the new site on Kawagama Lake:

“As the years went by, I was so happy to be able to return to Moorelands as the camp nurse. I worked as the nurse for three years; this time bringing my children with me!”

As she describes her memories, it’s evident that Sandy learned much from her time at Moorelands. “I really learned about teamwork and how to deal with other peopleCamp gave me the chance to learn how to get along with others.”

Building Memories and Leadership Skills

Sandy recounts one particular memory that really put her teamwork and leadership skills to the test. “There was an accident on the lake in the middle of the night. I rushed to the marina with Cathy Lepper-Hitchcock and a group of other first aiders.

 “The leadership skills I’d learned at Moorelands kicked in. I was able to think on my feet and take charge of the situation. We all worked together to get everyone the help they needed.”

What continues to inspire Sandy to support the camp after so many years? “I believe that if somebody wants to do something good for someone else they should offer them a hand. That’s what Moorelands Camp is: it’s a hand up – not a hand out.”

Thank you, Sandy! We’re so grateful for your enduring support!

Canoe Bay at Moorelands Camp, 1972.
Canoe Bay at Moorelands Camp, 1972.
Front Beach viewed from the barge.
Front Beach viewed from the barge.

Alumni Day at Camp - July 15, 2017

Why not connect with Sandy, along with Moorelands Alumni of all generations, up at camp for the Alumni Day on July 15th? Learn more and buy tickets:

Jane Rowan’s story

IMG_7820“You just have to do something, make an impact; I always wanted to leave a mark!”



At St. James Cathedral, The York Group’s Baby Shower for Moorelands Baby Bundles program, we had the good fortune to run into Jane Rowan. Jane is not only the Secretary of the York Group, with a long history of supporting Moorelands through their annual Baby Shower, but she also knows the benefits of Moorelands Camp program first hand.

BabyAs a single mother in the 1970s, Jane sent her children, Daniel and Darryl, to Moorelands Camp.  It was a difficult time for her, she explains: “I’d split from my husband and my parents disapproved – back then there was a lot of stigma attached to being a single parent.”  For Jane, it was a relief to find out about Moorelands and the opportunities it would provide for her young boys, “I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, but I didn’t want to deprive my kids of anything.”

How did she feel sending her two young children away from home for two weeks for the first time? “I was mostly relieved!” Jane smiles, “I was working full time and it gave me a much-needed break.  I knew they would be looked after and I didn’t have to worry.”

The boys had so much fun they went back two years in a row, accompanied by her sister’s children, Karen and Jason.  The cousins all have fond memories of camp. “They remember the boats going over to the Island very well, it left quite the impact on them.”

It’s clear that Jane is very proud of her boys and what they have achieved since their days at Moorelands. Daniel works at the University of Toronto as a Stationery Engineer and Darryl is an Accounting Manager at CBC. She’s “amazed” by their success and feels so blessed for the opportunities they have been given.

As for Jane herself, she too has achieved so much since those early days of being a single parent. She went back to school to study Industrial Accountancy and after graduation worked as an Accountant. Her career took her to Saudi Arabia as an Assistant Financial Controller and when she returned she became a Non-Profit/Co-operative Property Manager and founder of a childcare co-operative.

IMG_7887A volunteer at her church and in her co-op, as well as a great supporter of Moorelands Baby Bundles, Jane is filled with enthusiasm as she discusses the plans already underway for the York Group’s Baby Shower 2016. She explains, “We already have five bags of baby supplies ready for next year!”

It’s clear Jane is dedicated to Moorelands and the work we do.  As she considers the impact she has made over her years working in the non-profit sector and volunteering, she remarks how important it is to engage the next generation in volunteerism and charity work. “You just have to do something,” she explains, “make an impact, I always wanted to leave a mark!”

IMG_7827Thank you, Jane. By choosing Moorelands and supporting our Baby Bundles program, you’ve made a significant impact in the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

This Christmas, like Jane, why not choose to share your time in support of our Baby Bundles program.

Help give babies born into poverty, the best start in life. Find out more or call Cheryle at 416-466-9987 x 300.

Please keep your Century Club stories coming! Contact Helen: or 416-466-9987 ext. 312

Victoria Swindell

Victoria Swindell shares her story

“Moorelands creates SO MANY opportunities… for development, for growth, for fun… I have a huge debt of gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude!”

Introducing Moorelands Alum and Century Club Member...

Victoria Swindell

Victoria Swindell joined Moorelands as Swim Staff in 1979 and since then has been unwavering in her support of Moorelands Wilderness Camp.

She remembers her first experience of camp with great enthusiasm: “My sister worked there and out of the blue I got a phone call from Camp Director, Doug Varey – a lifeguard hadn’t shown up and he’d heard I was trained… Would I be able to help them at Moorelands? I was up there the very next day!”

During that first summer, Victoria was ‘blown away’ by Moorelands.

“Moorelands Camp is just a whole other level. The amazing range and quality of programs: kayaking, canoeing, rope courses…not to mention the spectacular scenery!”

Victoria Swindell Scenery

After starting out as a lifeguard and counsellor, Victoria went onto become Program Director under Mark Cote in 1982. When her time as staff came to an end, she just couldn’t stay away. She continued to volunteer on work projects for years after, helping to improve irrigation and revamping bathrooms and continues to support Moorelands financially to this day.

Her love for Moorelands is clear from the treasure trove of stories she recounts with such joy. From the good (“I learned so much about the importance of teamwork but also independence – feeling capable, that you can and will do this!”)

Victoria Swindell canoes

To the not so good (“the time I came back dirty and hungry from a 3 day canoe trip to find that Karen Reid had moved the contents of my ENTIRE cabin to the center of the sports field…furniture and all!”)

Many years have passed since Victoria’s time on Kawagama Lake, why is it that she continues to support Moorelands?

“I was an underprivileged child,” explains Victoria, “but I had an amazing childhood despite big time poverty. I was able to go to camp myself because other people were generous. And that has stuck with me.  I’m so glad that as an adult I’m able to give back.

Victoria Swindell
Victoria Swindell at camp

“Being exposed to nature as a child changed me in the best possible way. I’m so happy to be able to provide that experience for other kids. To see the kids at camp running around and enjoying nature fills me with joy. I believe that every kid should have that experience.”

Victoria is also quick to point out that the camp helps young people in other ways too -in the employment opportunities it creates for young people as camp counsellors. “It’s a cycle, both the campers and staff learn these amazing skills that they can take back into their lives and the community.”

And finally, it’s the friendships that really keep her connected. For Victoria, the most enduring aspect of camp is the “life-long friendships that have so enriched my life.”

She’s so proud to be a member of the Moorelands Alumni Committee who organized their first event in March 2016 – the Moorelands Alumni Reunion. Reuniting with so many friends from the past reminded Victoria of the debt of gratitude she feels to generations of Moorelanders who have created this wonderful organization:

 “Moorelands is like a building,” she explains, “each generation builds on the work of the last. I just want to say Thank You to all those who went before and all those who will come after. You make such a difference in the lives of Toronto kids.”

Thank you for reading Victoria’s story! If you’d like to support our camp like Victoria, why not donate now to send a kid to camp! You can share your own Moorelands story by contacting Helen Banham in the Moorelands office!

Alumni day at camp

Alumni Day at Camp

Saturday July 15th, 2017 is Alumni Day at Camp! Reunite with your old camp buddies and enjoy a nostalgic adventure at Moorelands Camp!


If you have bought tickets, please check your email for additional instructions about the bus and parking in Dorset. Here’s a summary.

For the bus:

We need you to let us know which stop you will get on at (if you haven’t already):
Stop 1: Toronto (Click for map)
Wilson station, Transit Road TTC drop off at 7:15 am
Stop 2: Newmarket (Click for map)
Go Station Car Pool Lot at Highway 9 and 400 at 8:15 am
Stop 3: Barrie (Click for map)
ONroute Barrie just after Maple View exit at 8:45 am

For drivers:

Parking has been arranged at Lion’s Camp with a shuttle bus leaving from there at 9.45 am to take you to Old Mill Marina to catch the boat to camp: 

Boats will take you across Kawagama Lake to camp where you can catch up with camp friends.

Enjoy lunch and dinner in the dining hall; a Moorelands campfire and music; and take part in all the fun activities you remember:

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Archery
  • Ropes Course
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Swimming
  • Hike to Far Point
  • Sports

Check out the Facebook event for fun challenges and competitions in the lead up to the event.

Contact Helen in the Moorelands office: (416) 466-9987 ext. 312 or

Alumni Day At Camp
Alumni Day at Camp
Alumni Day At Camp
Alumni Day at Camp
Sarah and Cheryle circa 1999

Sarah Le Bar Shares Her Moorelands Story

“Moorelands’ camp is so much more than canoeing & kayaking. It’s learning how to express yourself…to persevere until you get to where you want to be!”

Sarah's Story

Sarah today
Sarah today

When Sarah Le Bar’s mother first suggested that she go to Moorelands’ camp, Sarah, aged 9, was seriously unimpressed.

“I’d been to another camp the year before and it was a terrible experience. I was very reluctant to try camp again.”

But Sarah’s mom, a single-parent raising a child in a low-income, inner-city neighbourhood, knew that the opportunity to get her daughter to Moorelands was too good to miss. And boy, was she right!

After two or three days at Moorelands, I had been transformed.  I loved it so much; I became a camper for life!

An Adventure Away from the City

What was it that made Moorelands’ camp such a different experience for Sarah?

It was ALL fun. The counsellors and staff were amazing. They gave us boundaries but they let us be individuals, let us be ourselves…

 “Going to camp expanded my experiences and helped me learn so much. I did things I’d never have gotten the chance to do back home. I learned to swim!  And not just to swim, but swim in a lake!”

Sarah and friends at Moorelands Wilderness Camp
Sarah and friends at Moorelands Wilderness Camp

Lessons in Self-Expression

At camp, Sarah’s favourite activity was arts and crafts. She would often spend the treasured “free time” sessions in the arts and crafts cabin learning to express herself.

In fact, learning how to communicate properly and express her feelings is one of the enduring skills that Sarah attributes to camp.

“Camp built up my confidence. A lot of people don’t realise that in some households, kids just don’t learn certain skills – like how to communicate effectively – it’s hard to express yourself when no-one teaches you how.

“That’s why camp has so many benefits for inner-city kids. It builds their confidence and teaches them leadership. They learn that they have a voice. They learn that they are important.”

Sarah reading her poem by the flagpole at Moorelands.
Sarah reading her poem by the flagpole at Moorelands.

Treasured Memories

Sarah’s favourite camp memory is of one evening before dinner when the campers were gathered around the flagpole for camp songs.

“I got up and read one of my poems. It’s a moment that’s stayed with me. It felt great to be a part of a community, a team. I would never have had the confidence to do that before… 

These days Sarah is busy working at H&R Block and studying taxation part time. Has camp left any lasting impressions on her?

So many! Moorelands is a beautiful place – you can’t get any better. It taught me a respect for the wilderness that’s stuck with me. I still reminisce about my great times at camp and I’m still in contact with friends I made there.

“I guess the enduring impact is that Moorelands taught me that life is not just about me. It taught me to think about how I can help others, how I can make a difference in my community.”

Thank you, Sarah, for being a part of our community and sharing your story. We’re looking forward to seeing you at camp’s 100th birthday celebrations in the New Year! Merry Christmas!

Help other kids like Sarah experience a wilderness adventure at Moorelands.

Take a look at the equipment needed to make out-tripping adventures happen. Your donation of any size can make all the difference to Toronto kids-in-need.


Moorelands Logo - help us help kids

Got a Moorelands Story to Share?

We are gathering Alumni stories in advance of Moorelands Wilderness Camp’s 100th Birthday in 2017. Share your story online with our easy form or contact Helen,, 416-466-9987 ext.312 to share yours!

after school programs leadership training

After school programs leadership training

Moorelands’ after school programs leadership training:

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it,  for the greatness is there already” John Buchan

Training our Staff Leaders

after school programs leadership training
After school programs staff team 2016/2017

At Moorelands we believe in our program staff; they are an integral part of Moorelands’ after school programs. Over multiple training sessions in September, our staff team for the 2016/2017 after school program year came to learn how to be Moorelands leaders.

Our after school programs leadership training is intensive, instructive but let’s not forget super fun! We model what we expect of our program leaders: that they will be able to help participants grow in skills and character through fun activities.

After School Programs Leadership Training

At Moorelands we are intentional. We intend that children will gain skills, experience personal growth, gain confidence and make friends because they have been to Moorelands.

Therefore we require that our staff leaders be intentional too. We train them to plan activities with a purpose, create teachable moments and maximize the opportunities Moorelands has to positively influence the children and youth we serve.

after school programs leadership training
all smiles at staff leadership training

Intentional Programming

For example, a cooking lesson is never just a cooking lesson at Moorelands BLAST. Sure, participants learn to follow a recipe, but they also learn to communicate, listen, work with a group, take direction and focus on safety, practice patience, build self-efficacy and self-control. These are the skills they take home with them and use all their lives.

High Five

Moorelands is rigorous in our program evaluation and our programs are assessed by the High Five framework. At training, we deliver a High Five training program called Principles of Healthy Childhood Development. This program provides in-depth training in the HIGH FIVE Principles of healthy child development so our program staff leaders understand what they need to do to ensure each child’s social, emotional and cognitive needs are met. In their learning, staff focus on 5 principles: A caring adult, Friends, Play, Mastery, Participation.

after school programs leadership training
Brain storming in after school programs leadership training

We’re so excited about the excellent staff team that we have in place for the 2016/2017 after school program year. We know that they are going to be fantastic role models for Moorelands’ participants; helping them know, grow and show the leadership habits and character qualities our programs help develop.

We’d also like to say a big THANK YOU to Scotiabank who fund our after school programs leadership training for staff. Thank you for helping us help kids!

after school programs leadership training
Building confidence and skills at staff leadership training.
after school programs leadership training
Fun learning activities in our after school programs leadership training
Moorelands Logo - help us help kids
Fresh Air Fund, Geoff Morrison as Batman

Being a superhero on a shoestring budget: Fresh Air Fund

Visitors' Day 2016 Autumn

Visitors’ Day 2016

Come join us at camp for Visitors' Day 2016!

Please join us for Visitors’ Day 2016 at Moorelands Wilderness Camp on Friday, July 15th.

Visit beautiful  Kawagama Lake (near Dorset) and come see our programs in action. Lunch will be provided and we encourage you to meet our children and take part in a day at camp. Please note, our camp is boat accessible only.

Visitors’ Day 2016 Schedule:

Boat pickups start at 10:30 am
Tours go from 11:00 to 12:30 pm
Lunch is 12:30 to 1:30 pm followed by relaxing by the beach.
Boats return you to your car between 1:30 and 2:30 pm to have you back to the city between 5:00 – 6:00 pm.

Please RSVP by July 11th, to Cheryle Pollock at 416-466-9987 ext 300.  We hope to see you there!

Getting to Visitors' Day 2016

visitors day

At Moorelands Wilderness Camp:

We believe that all youth have strengths, regardless of their background or life situation.

We believe that children and youth can grow and flourish when their strengths are aligned with the benefits of our intentional, quality programs.

We focus on understanding, educating, and engaging children and youth in productive activities rather than fixing, curing, or treating them.

Moorelands Camp Objectives are to provide:

  • Opportunities for campers to build self-esteem and confidence through fun recreational activities
  • Opportunities for campers to build life skills including problem solving, goal setting, decision making, team work and friend making
  • Opportunities for campers to learn practical camp related skills and experience success
  • Positive role models and opportunities for campers to learn and practice positive character qualities
  • The experience of good relationships with peers and a mentor
  • Positive memories of the camping experience

The Moorelands’ Mission Statement

At Moorelands, we recognize the inherent value of all children and youth. We work with Toronto’s children and youth affected by poverty, to provide them with positive and fun experiences to help strengthen their confidence, competence and character.

Getting together with our community and seeing our leaders grow

Hey Moorelands!

On April 14, 2016, the Moorelands community came together to enjoy our Annual General Meeting. It was great to see so many community members – donors, staff, volunteers, alumni and participants – out in force to look back on our successes in 2015 and learn about how our community will continue to grow stronger in 2016.

A community united

Moorelands’ President, David Dorsch, kicked off proceedings by sharing a wonderful video of some great moments in Moorelands Wilderness Camp. It was a great community event with thank yous and goodbyes to some of our fantastic retiring Board Members: Judy Moore, Robert Black, Geoff Wilson, Michael Sital, Natasha Bronfman and Karen Finnemore. Plus a warm welcome was given to new Board members – Andrew Pollock and Elaine Lukowski.

Moorelands celebrated some of the wonderful achievements from 2015 such as programs going from strength to strength and the creation of an Alumni Group to keep our community connected. We also got to celebrate two amazing long-standing volunteers – Diane Hopkins and Carole Legget. Learn more about their achievements here.

A highlight of the afternoon was hearing from Moorelands Youth Lead Excel Demonstrate (LED) Alum, Khalida. Check out the video above as she explains why Moorelands matters to her. It’s so wonderful to watch Khalida putting her fantastic communication skills, developed at Youth LED, to great effect! Thank you, Khalida, for sharing your story with us and for staying a part of the Moorelands community!

On the subject of Youth LED, the program is now in full swing over at Valley Park Middle School!

In the past few weeks, participants have begun to learn about communication, completing tasks where different types of communication were necessary and the challenges that came with them. In one activity, participants worked in pairs to practise clarity in communication. The partners sat back to back and one partner had to describe an image to the other, while their counterpart drew what was being described.

In another activity, they had to use one form of communication to describe a popular person/movie/sport to their team (much like charades), their options were writing, drawing, using Play-Doh, physically acting it out or verbally describing without the use of certain words.

Check out the pics and the video below of our participants rising to these challenges!

Finally, tickets are on-sale now for Moorelands’ gala 2016 starring Andrew Cash: Cash for Moorelands.  The event takes place at the stunning lakeside setting of the Palais Royale and will feature delicious food, an open bar and of course fantastic entertainment. Tickets are $150, including a $75 tax receipt – all proceeds will go towards Moorelands’ vital programs like Youth LED featured above. Buy your tickets now, don’t delay!

Have a great week,

Best High res just Moorelands

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