Every January my youngest daughter begins the camp countdown to Pioneer Camp Ontario. That’s six or seven months of anticipation before the eventual August drop-off every summer. In many ways this camp is the gift that keeps giving all year long.
How Did We Discover Pioneer Camp Ontario?
Just two summers ago my family was invited to a Bloggers’ Weekend Retreat at Pioneer Camp Ontario. We were summer camp veterans, but had never been to this particular camp. That weekend we stayed in the area where the campers stay, and we ate in the dining room, did low ropes and high ropes, climbed a rock wall and rowed in a war canoe. There were camp games and campfires and a cake decorating competition too.
The girls had a truly amazing time and so did we. Towards the end of the weekend my younger daughter decided she’d love to try it for a week. So we signed her up right away and the camp countdown began.
Finding Acceptance and Support
My daughter Ainsley has a lot of strengths. She’s super athletic and creative and has a gigantic heart, along with a few challenges too. She needs extra support due to some of her unique challenges with FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder ) and SPD (sensory processing disorder). But after watching the staff interact with her and other children, many of whom had ADD and ADHD, I felt confident they could handle all sorts of kids with various needs and abilities.
That is no small thing.
I have learned over the course of many years parenting a child with unique challenges and needs that inclusion is really only inclusive when it is quiet, consistent and truly integrated. Something given, because it is the right thing to do and because everyone benefits when everybody gets the support they need to do their best.
My daughter found an amazing accepting space that she values. That’s unusual for her. It often takes her a long time to warm up to people and new situations, but the camp staff and programming are exceptional at making kids feel at home, while also guiding them to be their best and encouraging them to explore new activities safely.
That first year, she found friendship and fun and a mentor relationship with one of the counsellors nicknamed Dacha. They wrote each other letters and kept up with each other on Instagram long after summer ended. It was a great relationship. So many of the camp’s counsellors are amazing young people who come from all over the world to work there. That matters to children and to parents too. Plus the ongoing contact, although not at all expected, was really a nice thing to see.
Picked @sharkainsleyschuck up from @ontariopioneercamp this morning after two weeks away. That’s the longest this girl has ever been away from home. She immediately told me I’d like to try even longer next year. Huge thanks to Five-0 and Roni for making her two weeks of camp a success. Bye for now and thanks to OPC. She leaves this camp every year feeling more confident and happy and that seems to carry through a good chunk of her school year. That is a 🎁 gift to all of us. #happy #travel #roadtrips #camp #ontario #fun #family #summer #summerfun #summer2017 #love #ifwtwa #camping #outdoors #muskoka #lakelife #lakes #sports #swimming #sailing #basketball #crafts #photography #songs #friendship #friends #youth
Ainsley’s Take on Pioneer Camp Ontario
“This will be my third year going to Pioneer Camp Ontario. I absolutely love it there. It has everything I was looking for in a camp. The camp grounds are beautiful. There’s so much space and a beautiful lake to swim in too. AT Pioneer Camp Ontario you never feel trapped.
The staff is phenomenal. Not only that, but the special needs staff is amazing! You will never feel left out.
Kitchen staff are amazing at what they do and they always have great stories to share. The people you meet are super and they are friends that will stand by you forever. This is the best camp I have ever been part of.”
Pioneer Camp Ontario was founded in 1929 and is in Muskoka. Over the past 88 years over 257, 000 kids have benefitted from this Christian camp for boys and girls aged 5 to 17.
This post was sponsored by Pioneer Camp Ontario. My opinion is truthful and all my own.