Executive Director’s Report 2017

Lynda Tilley

Dear Friends,

2017 has been a very full year, exploring why ‘Moorelands Matters’ to 1170 children and their families.

We found new partners and continue to see our community and supporters grow. We launched a strategic directive to serve more youth. We “weathered” the challenge of having camp close for one session over the summer – only the second time in 100 years of camp – with trees down, no power, no water and no phones, all caused by extreme weather.

We sat on an advisory panel of best practices in after-school programming for the benefit of partners’ Toronto Community Housing and the Jays Care Foundation. We grew our capacity for Youth LED to almost double the enrolment of 2016. And we commemorated both camp’s 100th birthday and Canada’s 150th birthday with a memorable reunion at Moorelands Camp. We have so much to celebrate!

At Moorelands Camp, with a grant from Toronto Community Foundation, a Canada 150 trail was created, and each camper visited the 15 stations to learn about Canada throughout the decades. Campers wrote their hopes on cards that, when put together, created a huge Canadian flag which was displayed all summer.

Kerry, age 9, shares

My hope for Canada; “I hope that Canada can be a peaceful country and no one is to feel unsafe and insulted.”

My hope for Moorelands: “that Moorelands keeps everyone safe and everyone can learn something new.”

Moorelands’ after-school programs continue to grow and meet the needs of Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park neighbourhoods. In September In 2017, our BLAST programs were aligned to include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) giving a broad range of skills to the participants. Through strategic partnerships with Scotiabank and Jays Care, we devoted more hours to staff training with strong results.

This summer our events efforts focused on sending 100 kids to camp, with a Moorelands’ gala at Palais Royale and the third annual Starry Summer Night Bash, organized by a generous group of Kawagama Lake’ cottagers.

We heard from Randy, an alumnus, who spoke of his career path that was inspired by his time at Moorelands; Sage, who shared that as a successful high school student, every day she uses skills learned at Moorelands. And Autumn, who grew and gained strength, as she experienced a sense of belonging at camp.

The strengths that children and youth are gaining through Moorelands would not be possible without our dedicated donors, committed board members, faithful volunteers and dynamic staff team.

To those on the journey with us, thank you for being part of Moorelands in 2017. Now in 2018 let’s give more children and youth the opportunity to discover for themselves why ‘Moorelands Matters.’

Respectfully Submitted,

Lynda Tilley

Executive Director


John Gomes with his cabin

John Gomes’ Moorelands Story

John is the winner of our Moorelands Camp Story Contest! Check out his competition winning submission below. Thank you to everyone who entered, there was stiff competition!

John's Story

John Gomes

My Moorelands Camp story begins when I was 13. Before coming to Moorelands, I had only been to one camp before – an underwhelming three-day school trip – that left a bad taste in my mouth. I had been struggling with low confidence and poor social skills, and it was affecting school. A close friend of mine had previously attended the camp, and recommended it to my mother, as the subsidies help lower-income families such as ours to pay for the cost of going to camp. I had no expectations coming in, and I must say that, even if I did, they would have been blown away.

The moment I entered the bus after stowing my luggage, I was met with smiling faces all around. I immediately became friends with the two people that I was sitting next two, and we talked for the entire bus ride, two hours in all, that I had barely even noticed pass. When we were nearly at camp, the counsellors stood up and began teaching us the camp’s cheers. While I was nervous, as many of the other boys on the bus had been there before and knew the cheers, I quickly caught on and was yelling along with the rest of the bus in minutes. The counselors were patient, and brought a positive and energetic vibe with them, with everything they did. Over the course of the week, I met some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life, many of which I still know today. Camp gave me an opportunity to let all of my energy out, to be as loud as I wanted to be, as energetic and rowdy as I wanted to be. I was an equal in this group of over ten other people. My opinion was valued, I was listened to. When I arrived home, I was constantly talking to everyone I knew about my experiences at camp. I would talk for hours and hours without even realizing, something completely unheard of for me. The experiences I had at camp opened up this new side of me, a socially active, self-advocating me that I never knew before.

All from a single week at camp.

Now, I’m fifteen.

When ACE came around the year later, I was happy to see that one of my cabin mates from the year before had joined me, as well as three new faces. This time, camp was slower. I got time to get to know my cabin mates extremely well. I got to witness what goes on behind the scenes while campers are doing their activities, getting to know the counselors and helping organize camp-wide events and even taking part in one of them. Me and my cabin mates were put through many extremely difficult trust and team building exercises, which we flourished in.

John in costume at camp

By the time our canoe trip came around, me and my other four cabin mates had developed a bond that could not be broken. The experiences we’d shared still come back to memory to this day, nearly a year after. During our canoe trip, we were given advice and asked questions which changed my outlook on life entirely. We were told to look back on our lives and evaluate ourselves, and I took a lot in from the lessons we were given that I use every day. We were shown how to be better people, to show true respect. All in the span of two days. By the time our canoe trip was over, I had made four friends and a million memories to last a lifetime.

That is my Moorelands story. Camp truly transformed me for the better, and taught me lessons I wish I had learned ten years ago.

By John Gomes, Moorelands camper

Moorelands Logo - help us help kids

visitors from Toronto Fire

BLAST Kids Get Some VIP Visitors

BLAST kids at our three locations in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park were lucky enough to have some VIP visitors recently. Members of Toronto Fire Services and Toronto Police Services took time out of their busy schedules to teach kids about keeping safe and about their service in the community.

Visitors to BLAST - officer Wright

Officer Wright from the Toronto Police took time to introduce herself and explain her duties as a police officer in the community.  She took questions from the kids and explained away a lot of misconceptions about what police officers do. For example, she explained that the most important part of her toolkit was her pen and not her gun. Her pen is what she uses most often in her daily duties and it’s her pen that she uses to keep people safe and bad guys behind bars.

Our visitors from the Fire Service spoke to BLAST kids about the importance of checking smoke alarms and why carbon monoxide detectors are so important. And while BLAST kids had so much fun challenging their visitors to a race and checking out the fire truck, the fire fighters also enjoyed learning about their community by meeting the kids at BLAST.  Check out the pics and videos below of all the fun!

visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
Special Visitors to BLAST - the Fire Service
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
Visitors from Toronto Fire
Visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
visitors from Toronto Fire
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!

Visitors Day 2017

Visitors’ Day 2018

Please join us for Visitors’ Day 2018 at Moorelands Camp on Friday, July 13th.

Park your car at Old Mill Marina (near Dorset) and take the boat across beautiful Kawagama Lake to see our programs in action. The marina is located at 1652 Russell Landing Rd., Dorset, ON, P0A 1E0.

Lunch will be provided and we encourage you to meet our children and take part in the celebrations at camp. Please note, our camp is boat access only.

Visitors' Day 2018 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 p.m. to have you back to the city between 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Please RSVP by July 3rd to 416-466-9987 ext 300.  We hope to see you there!

Getting to Visitors' Day 2018

  • Take Hwy 400 north to Hwy 11.
  • Just north of Bracebridge take Hwy 117 east to Hwy 35.
  • Turn north (left) on Hwy 35 Turn right on Kawagama Lake Road.
  • Take first right, Country Rd #8 and follow the signs to Old Mill Marina. There is a ‘Y’ in the road, keep to the left!
  • Keep driving past the first marina you come to (Mountain Trout House Marina) and drive all the way to the end of the road until you can go no further. This is Old Mill Marina where you should park and wait for the boat.
  • Moorelands Camp 705-766-2916

At Moorelands 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.

camp story competition

Moorelands Camp Story Competition

camp story competition
camp story competition
camp story competition

We’re having a camp story competition!

Share your story from Moorelands Camp and be entered into a draw to win a $50 Indigo Gift Card!

Here are some ideas to get you thinking!
Describe your favourite memory of Moorelands Camp and why it meant so much.
Describe what you learned at Moorelands Camp and how you learned it.
Describe how you use something you learned at camp in your everyday life.
Explain what Moorelands Camp means to you.

What your camp story needs:
1. Your story must be a minimum of 200 words
2. Your story should describe your personal experience of Moorelands Camp and must be your own work
3. You must have been a Moorelands’ camper or a camp staff member to enter.

Deadline = March 31st 2018

Don’t forget, we are currently accepting applications for summer camp 2018!

Toronto Needs more Moorelands!

Toronto Needs More Moorelands!

Why does Toronto need more Moorelands?

Child Poverty & Mental Health

“The odds of a child or youth from a family living in poverty having a mental health problem are three times that of a child from a family that is not living in poverty.” Linking poverty and mental health: A lifespan view; Sept. 2008

Early Learning Vastly Reduced by Poverty

“Recreation and early learning participation levels of Toronto children are highly dependent on family income: half of children in families with annual incomes under $30,000 do not regularly participate in out-of-school arts or sports programs.”  In contrast, 93% of children in families with incomes over $100,000 participate in these programs. DIVIDED CITY: Life in Canada’s Child Poverty Capital, Nov. 2016

New Canadians – 50% of Children Live in Poverty

“Almost 1 in 2 children in the GTA (47.6%), who arrived in Canada between 2011 and 2016, live in poverty. This is almost 3 times the rate of poverty experienced by children in non-immigrant families.” UNEQUAL CITY: The Hidden Divide Among Toronto’s Children and Youth, Nov. 2017


BUT there is GOOD news… see how you’re helping!

What we achieved in 2017 Toronto needs more Moorelands

Of course, to fund all this great work we are constantly looking to you, our partners, who believe in giving kids opportunities.  Help us spread the word about the great work being done at Moorelands and make more Moorelands happen for Toronto kids. If you haven’t already this year, please make a gift that gives children the power to grow into leaders. Choose to transform a life today.


Annual General Meeting 2018

Moorelands’ Annual General Meeting 2018

Moorelands Annual General Meeting 2018

Annual General Meeting

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

63rd Floor

Scotia Plaza

44 King Street West

Help Us Shape Moorelands' Future

Please join us at our Annual General Meeting on April 11th where you can shape the future of Moorelands.  Enjoy cocktails and light refreshments as we discuss your impact in 2017 and look ahead to serving more children in 2018. We know that Toronto needs more Moorelands! Plus, hear from one of our fantastic Youth Ambassadors whose life you’ve changed with your generous support and meet with Moorelands’ Board and Staff to share your views.  With gratitude to Scotiabank for the generous donation of their meeting space.

RSVP to Danielle 416-466-9987 ext. 300 or dbuller@moorelands.ca.

We look forward to seeing you on April 11th!

Moorelands Youth LED Table game

What Goes On at Moorelands Youth LED?

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader success is all about growing others.”  Jack Welch

They're Not "Just Kids" - They're Future Leaders!

Moorelands Youth LED

Moorelands Youth LED program at Valley Park Middle School gives students in grades 6 – 8 the chance to develop leadership and life skills through fun, hands-on experiences. At Moorelands, we don’t see middle schoolers as “just kids,” we know that they are future Toronto leaders. Our program is designed to help them develop the habits and qualities they need to be leaders, not just in the future, but RIGHT NOW!

Our participants tell us that they end up using what they’ve learned at Moorelands Youth LED to succeed at school, at home and in their community. Read on to find out what exactly goes on at Moorelands Youth LED!

Fun Ways to Build Skills

Moorelands Youth LED is run as two nine-week programs. Participants can sign up for the fall or spring semester – or both! Over the course of the program, participants take part in fun activities that help them develop the Moorelands leadership habits and qualities. In the pics to the right, you can see our young people developing their communication and teamwork skills. The whole group was given 30 images and they had to work together to piece the images into a story in the correct order. Oh, and to just keep them on their toes, there was no talking allowed!

In the images to the left, you can see two Moorelands Youth LED participants taking part in an activity called ‘Nail Stacking.’ Teams start with one nail placed vertically into a wooden block. From there, the task requires each team to see how many nails they can stack on top of one another without the whole thing crashing down. Here, they were working on the leadership habit of “Together is Better” and building their resiliency. The record reached was 30 nails!

Other fun activities include games like “Minefield” where prizes are strewn across the room. Participants work in pairs where one partner is blindfolded and the other has to direct them to the prize they want. The catch is that the pair wins the first thing they touch, so if they don’t listen carefully and touch one of the “boobytraps” also lying throughout the minefield, that’s what they go home with. It’s a way for participants to practise listening skills and the importance of listening first before taking action/responding.

Bringing it all Together

So much happens over the nine-week program including the chance to get certified in First Aid. Towards the end of the program, participants take part in the Egg Drop challenge which is a chance for them to bring all their skills together. Participants are presented with an egg. Then, working in teams, they have to construct packaging for the egg which will allow it to survive being dropped from the second floor down to the first floor completely intact! Check out one team’s results in the video to the left… will their egg have survived the fall?

Volunteer Opportunity

A big highlight of Moorelands Youth LED is the opportunity to gain volunteer experience and pass on some of the skills they have learned to younger kids in their community. Youth LED participants planned and delivered a crafting activity to elementary school-aged kids in our BLAST after-school program. Participants not only explained and lead the activity but also debriefed it too! They helped the younger kids understand the importance of the skills and qualities they had developed; namely sharing, responsibility and fairness.

Our Youth LED and VITAL leadership programs participants also get the opportunity to attend a leadership retreat in the late spring. This field trip to an outdoor education centre gives them a chance to consolidate their learning while taking part in fun, outdoor activities like archery and high ropes.

If you are interested in applying for the spring semester of Youth LED, you can apply online here. Or get in touch with our after-school programs team for more info: 416-466-9987 Ext. 305 or afterschool@moorelands.ca

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