Koda leading archery

Meet Koda – Moorelands Kids Changed My Life!

“Moorelands isn’t your typical summer camp. The camp’s goal is to have every camper grow as a leader and to discover their full potential.”

Koda's Story


Koda, a former Moorelands Kids’ camper, is now a Moorelands Camp and BLAST (Budding Leaders After School Teams) program staff member. In 2017, Koda received the Moorelands’ Young Leaders Award and Bursary to support her Social Service Worker studies at Centennial College. This summer she led the archery program at Moorelands Camp.

Communication, Teamwork and Goal-setting

“Looking back at my memories as a camper I feel a sense of gratitude that I was given the opportunity to attend Moorelands Camp. Truth be told, the first time I went to camp it was a different story… I was scared, anxious and mad at my mom for wanting to get rid of me for a week! But man, was I wrong…

“You see, before Moorelands, I used to be a really shy, quiet – “please-don’t-make-me-do-this” kind of girl. With each summer as a camper I became more confident, more ambitious and a lot more a leader.

Attending the two-week SALT (Skills and Leadership Training) program at 16, was an amazing experience. The opportunity to take part in a longer canoe trip really increased my communication, teamwork and goal-setting skills. I’m proud to be able to say that I’ve experienced the best of Moorelands Kids, as both a camper and as a staff member.


Not Your Typical Summer Camp

“These past two summers I’ve been part of a strong staff team with the goal to create fun, intentional leadership programming. We all work to build and enhance the 4 Cs in our campers: competence, confidence, character and connections. As a kid, I never realised how much thought and work went into our daily activities. At Moorelands we don’t do ‘Ds’—we don’t demean, diminish or disrespect each other.

“Moorelands isn’t your typical summer camp. The camp’s goal is to have every camper grow as a leader and to discover their full potential.

“Being a staff member at Moorelands is no easy ride. Working with kids—many of whom have diverse needs—can sometimes leave you emotionally and physically drained. But, whenever I’ve felt almost ready to throw in the towel, I always remember that I’m there for one reason: to show the campers that anything is possible. I am a leader and have to keep going and be that role model that they need.

Moorelands is a Magical Place

“Moorelands really is a magical place. I’m excited to help out at Christmas Sharing this year because I know how much the kids look forward to those gifts. Moorelands Kids has changed the course of my life. When I finish my education I’ve got a new career goal planned… I want to replace Lynda as Executive Director. Watch out!”

Make a Donation and Double Your Impact!

YOU can give more kids like the Koda the opportunity to attend Moorelands Kids’ programs! Right now we have a MATCHING CHALLENGE which means your donation will be DOUBLED from GIVING TUESDAY – November 27th – until December 31st thanks to a generous donor!

Learn more and donate to the MATCHING WEEKS CHALLENGE to DOUBLE your impact!

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown’s Moorelands Story

“At camp, I saw a different way of interacting – a different way to deal with problems. It gave me access to peace and tranquility; access to role models who I could trust.”

Sandra's Story

Sandra Brown, nee Woodgate, recently got back in touch with Moorelands for the first time since her last year as a camper in 1976.  Although she hasn’t been up to camp for more than 40 years, she’s still transported back to Moorelands every time she smells the aroma of pine needles; the memories of her time at camp are some of the happiest of her childhood. Sandra contacted us because she wanted to get back involved with Moorelands and see how she can help us serve more kids.  She explains:

I am so thankful to Moorelands Camp – it got me out of a poisonous environment at home and gave me an escape. But I was only able to go to camp because kind and generous people donated money. It changed life for me as a disadvantaged child. I want to help other children have that chance.”

Moorelands Camp Fosters a Love of Nature

Sandra went to Moorelands Camp for six summers. Her mom was a volunteer at their church, St. Bartholomew’s, and so she would often end up spending a few weeks at camp at a time. The thought of camp was thrilling to her;

“Growing up in Regent Park, Moorelands Camp got me out of the concrete jungle and fostered my love for nature. I would pack for camp two weeks ahead of time and live out of a suitcase until it was time to go, I was so excited! At the end of the summer, I would cry on the barge back over Kawagama Lake, I didn’t want to go home.”

Moorelands Camp Director Doug Varey on the Beach, 1978
Moorelands Camp Director Doug Varey on the Beach, 1978

Camp Changes Lives

When I ask Sandra, how exactly it was that Moorelands Camp changed her life, she is thoughtful for a moment and then explains.

“What camp really did was show me another way to be. My mother was an alcoholic and I grew up with tonnes of dysfunctionality at home; it filled every corner of my universe. But Moorelands Camp gave me an escape, a reprieve from what I was being exposed to at home. It made me realise that there was more to life than that universe I knew. At camp I saw a different way of interacting; a different way to deal with problems. It gave me access to peace and tranquility; access to role models who I could trust. As a child, you only know the world you grow up in, how your family interacts. Camp showed me a different way of living.”

Sandra remembers one of her camp counsellors, Chris Noxon, as a kind of surrogate parent. She recalls how one summer he went on a trip with some of the older campers. While they were gone, there was a storm of the century that split the old oak tree by the dining hall and knocked down the flagpole. She, and the other younger campers who stayed behind, huddled in the dining hall because the storm was so bad. When the trippers returned safely the next day, everyone was so happy. Chris and another camp staff, Brian Reid, took the wood from the fallen tree and built a new flagpole and made plaques with all the camper’s names. It’s a memory that’s stuck with her; a reminder to find a way to make something positive out of a bad situation.

Campers on front beach, 1970s
Campers on front beach, 1970s
Front Beach viewed from the barge.
Front Beach viewed from the barge.

Everyday Heroes Make Moorelands Camp Possible

After being taken into foster care, Sandra spent one last year at Moorelands. She’s happy to be back in touch with Moorelands today after so long and excited for the opportunity to give back. As a child, she says, “I had grandiose ideas of who these people were that were paying for me to go to camp. In my imagination, there was a photo of all of us kids in a book and then a group of billionaires – Daddy Warbucks types – would flip through and choose which kid to send to camp!

At age 18, whilst doing her degree at York University, Sandra rented a room from a nice family, the Caddy’s, who attended St. John’s Anglican Church. One evening she noticed a flyer in their kitchen for an event they were attending – it was a fundraiser for Moorelands Camp!  She was overwhelmed –

“What are the chances!  Here they were, supporting the cause that I personally benefited from. It was an eye-opening experience to me to realise that people like these kind, regular people were the ones who had made it possible for me to go to camp.”

Help Sandra Send a Kid to Camp!

After getting “a few degrees” and then carving out a successful career at RBC heading up their recruitment department, today Sandra rents out cottage properties to vacationers up north. Her love of cottage life – campfires, nature and the wilderness – all stems from her experiences at Moorelands.

Sandra is joining our Send a Kid to Camp campaign so she can help kids growing up in circumstances similar to her own enjoy the amazing adventure and benefits of Moorelands Camp. If you’d like to get involved too, consider making a donation today! Thank you!


Help Sandra send a kid to camp!
Help Sandra send a kid to camp!
Alpha with Campers

Giddy Up! Say Hello to Alpha

“I learned so many things at Moorelands. Every kid has strengths and it’s our job as leaders to put them in the position to succeed.”

Moorelands newest (well kind of…) staff member!

Alpha as a pirate

Moorelands is so pleased to welcome Keith McShan, aka Alpha, (back) into the fold.  Although he’s been connected to Moorelands for many years, Alpha has recently returned to a position in the Moorelands’ office as Programs Coordinator.  In this role, he’ll be heading up our after-school youth leadership programs Youth LED and VITAL, for middle school and high school students.  Later in the summer, he’ll get the opportunity to head back up to camp.

When LT calls…You pick up!

Although Alpha plans on moving down to the States in the fall to begin a PhD in Sports Psychology, the opportunity to help Moorelands out for a few months was too good to miss. “When LT calls,” Alpha explains, “you pick up!

Alpha was first introduced to Moorelands when he was in the last year of his undergraduate degree at the University of Windsor.  He knew that he wanted to spend the summer before Grad school working with kids and using his skills on the sports field. When he saw the job posting for Moorelands Camp on the OCA website he knew it would be a great fit.

Alpha advertising Youth LED
Alpha advertising Youth LED

Moorelands Camp is Disneyland to these kids

But it wasn’t until he got up to camp that he truly understood the magic that is Moorelands.

Moorelands is Disneyland for these kids.  They have so much fun but more than that, they also gain something. At Moorelands, they get a chance to just be themselves. There’s no pressure to put on an image or try and fit a certain mold. They can just be kids. Some of these guys, they’re 10 or 11 and are running a household.

Every Kid Has Strengths

Alpha ended up working at Moorelands Camp for three summers; going from a cabin leader to a program staff and ending up Head of Sports. How did the experience shape him?

I learned so many things at Moorelands. Every kid has strengths and it’s our job as leaders to put them in the position to succeed.

“But working at Moorelands also helped me personally because it gave me the leadership skills I needed for my professional roles as a coach for High School and Grade School kids.”

Alpha with fellow staff
alpha at camp

“Giddy Up!”

Since his time at Moorelands, Alpha has earned his Master’s degree in Sports Management.  He has worked as an Events Coordinator with Football Canada, a high school basketball and football coach with the Massey Mustangs High School Program in Windsor, Ontario and the Windsor Valiants Basketball Club.  The Valiants serve girls in grades 1 through 12.  Alpha has also served as Basketball Coach at Duke University in North Carolina for their boys’ basketball camp.  In each of these roles, he’s used the skills that he developed at Moorelands to uplift the players and help them develop their skills and grow in confidence.

At Moorelands I realised that whatever you’re doing, it’s important to bring the enthusiasm and energy. That kind of positivity draws positivity out of the kids. You’ve got keep moving forwards. Like I always say, ‘Giddy Up! Today’s gonna be a good day!’

Alpha with kids

Alpha believes in the work that Moorelands does so much that he was convinced to uproot his life and move from Windsor to Toronto.

Moorelands means a lot to me. One goal I have in life is to give back. The relationships that both the kids and staff develop at Moorelands are so strong. It’s like a family. So many of the kids who I’ve worked with at camp have told me as much themselves. They tell you, ’Alpha, you’re like family.’

They only come to Moorelands Camp for one week a year but they spend the year looking forward to it.

Get Some of Alpha's Positive Vibes!

Want to work with Alpha and get some of his positive vibes? Join our Youth LED program at Valley Park Middle School! Or get your application in to come to camp this summer!

Mike (right) as a volunteer at camp

Mike Kim Shares His Moorelands Story

“I grew up in a loving family. For many kids it’s not like that. Moorelands taught me to be aware of more than just what’s in front of you.”

Mike's Story

Mike as a staff member at Moorelands Camp
Mike at Moorelands Camp

Mike “Squeak” Kim started working at Moorelands Camp in 2004 and went on to be a Section Head and then the Assistant Manager of our City Programs. Although he officially left in 2009, he continues to volunteer regularly.

For Mike, one thing that stands out about Moorelands’ approach is the focus on creating “the best environment possible” for the kids we serve.

Leadership for Staff and Kids

“Staff here are pushed to do more.” He explains, “It’s more than just playing or babysitting –there’s a strong focus on developing leadership skills in both the kids and the staff.”

Working at Moorelands made a huge impact on Mike’s life.  He credits Nemo and Lost with helping him overcome his fear of public speaking, but he also learned so much from them about how to lead, develop staff and empower kids: Everything I learned at Moorelands I now model in the way I conduct myself as a social worker.”

Mike at work in the Moorelands office
Mike at work in the Moorelands office
Mike with fellow Moorelands staff member Katie
Mike with fellow Moorelands office staff member Katie overlooking Kawagama Lake

A Sense of Community and Citizenship

Today, Mike works at a homeless shelter for youth and helps youth find and keep employment. When working with these kids, he uses Moorelands strategies – such as fostering a sense of community and citizenship – and makes sure never to label anyone as a “bad kid.”

“Moorelands taught me that I can be the person who reinforces the negative stereotype a kid holds of themselves, or I can show them that they are a person of value who can do great things. That’s a game changer.”

An Experience like Moorelands Can Make All the Difference

At work, he’s always struck by just how different things might have been for his clients if they’d had an experience like Moorelands.

Now, I see youth at the worst time in their life. They have been neglected; they’ve run away from home. They often ask me, ‘Where was someone like you when I was younger?’ I really believe when you invest in kids at a younger age – like Moorelands does – it negates the bad influences.”

One of the pictures taken by Mike as a volunteer at camp.
One of the pictures taken by Mike as a volunteer at camp.
Mike at Camp
Mike at Camp

Mike is so proud to continue to be a part of Moorelands: “It takes a community to help these kids. Things don’t change over-night; it’s a long-term investment.

 The work you make possible is so influential. The friendships and connections kids make at Moorelands – they continue to support us long after camp.”

Thanks, Mike, for being a part of the Moorelands’ community! We’re so glad to have you as part of our world!

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: www.moorelands.ca/alumni-day

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: hbanham@moorelands.ca 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!

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.


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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, hbanham@moorelands.ca, 416-466-9987 ext.312 to share yours!

Jodi at camp

Moorelands’ hub – February 29, 2016 – introducing Jodi Thompson

Hey Moorelands!

Jodi as a Section Head at Moorelands Wilderness Camp
Jodi as a Section Head at Moorelands Wilderness Camp

A few weeks ago we introduced you to new Moorelands’ staff member, David Borsook.

This week we’d like to (re-)introduce you to Jodi ‘Lynx’ Thompson…

For the past 4 years, Jodi Thompson has spent her summers up at Moorelands Wilderness Camp on Kawagama Lake as a Section Head (Check her out as an ‘ooga booga’ below!) Now we’re bringing Camp to the City as Jodi takes on the role of Interim City Programs Manager.

This new appointment is somewhat of a “Homecoming” for Jodi. Although she loves camp, especially leading the cheers in the dining hall (check out the video, below), it’s City Programs that have her heart. Her whole career has been about working with city kids to “give them opportunities that they otherwise would never have had.”

Jodi loves City Programs because “everyday, after-school, is a great time to reach kids.” Children and Youth, she explains – especially those from low-income neighbourhoods – get “labelled a lot and often these labels are really negative.” But what makes Moorelands’ programs so special is that they “rewrite the framework of these stories.”

Jodi at camp as an 'ooga booga'
Jodi at camp as an 'ooga booga'

“What I love about Moorelands is that everyone is walking the walk. The kids absolutely know the core values and these give them positive labels to be proud of. They realise, yes, you CAN be responsible, you CAN be a leader.”

Jodi with her fellow Section Head, Jersey.
Jodi with her fellow Section Head, Jersey.

Jodi is incredibly excited to join the Moorelands’ office team and hopes to use her role as Interim City Programs Manager to uphold Moorelands’ high standards at both our Budding Leaders After-school Teams (BLAST) program and Youth Lead, Excel Demonstrate (LED)

If you’d like to support Jodi and Moorelands’ program objectives of providing a leadership experience to kids affected by poverty, you can make a donation to City Programs by clicking here.

Have a great week!

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