“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 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.”
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.
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!