Town of Huntsville may increase summer camps available at Pitman’s Bay

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With a long-term agreement with a youth camp coming to an end, Town of Huntsville staff are exploring alternate summer use for Pitman’s Bay, including the possibility of increasing the number of its own summer camps that run there.

Highlands Youth for Christ, which has had an agreement with the Town for use of the outdoor facility for its KidMax summer camp since 2005, notified staff in September that it would be cancelling the agreement for 2018 and beyond.

Pitman’s Bay has been used for youth programming for decades. According to a staff report presented at the October 25 General Committee meeting, the Town secured the title for Pitman’s Bay in 1951 in a legal agreement with Scouts Canada that had the organization operating the property on behalf of the Town. In 1993, Scouts Canada ended this agreement and the Huntsville Youth Club took over maintenance of the site during the weeks of their summer camp. Highlands Youth for Christ assumed the agreement in 2005.

In exchange for use of the site, Highlands Youth for Christ were responsible for Hydro costs, approximately $1,200 per year; maintenance of the facility including grounds and minor building upkeep and equipment repair; cleaning the washrooms; and garbage removal.

The legal agreement states that the purpose of the site is to be primarily for youth programming. Rentals for youth-related use are complimentary; there is a fee for all other rentals based on the Town’s Fees & Charges Bylaw. It’s a popular weekend venue for weddings and family reunions.

The Town also holds a popular outdoor day camp at Pitman’s Bay for one week at the end of the summer, one that typically sells out. Last year it had a waiting list.

“Given the recent cancellation and given the success of our program and the number of kids on the waitlist, we would like to review possible municipal use and the costs involved and report back with recommendations,” Kari Lambe, the Town’s Director of Community Services told the committee. The committee agreed.

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3 Comments

  1. Jill Patterson on

    Celebrating Summit Centre Camp 2017

    Last summer while walking the track, I had the pleasure of watching and enjoying some camp activities. Laughter and fun appeared to be the prevailing experiences for all. In my opinion,
    the staff consistently exhibited maturity, commitment, and respect toward each other and the campers. They even made a point of saying hi to me! Boundaries and rules were established while at the same time exhibiting understanding and patience.

    I visited with Simone Babineau Manager of Recreation & Leisure Services, Community Services to learn about the organization. Simone happily shared the following information. I might add she bubbled with enthusiasm.

    The Camp is based on the High Five Program designed by Parks and Recreation Ontario to support the safety, well-being and healthy development of children in sport and recreation programs.

    This year the theme was “To Be Muskokan” which emphasized activities focusing on nature and the outdoors (weather permitting) such as canoeing, fishing, swimming, soccer, visits to Muskoka Heritage Village, Camp Kitchen and Pitman’s Bay, train ride, soccer, arts, crafts plus more.

    Camp ran from July 1st to September 1st with a staff of 28 and 875 campers, ages 4 to 12 inclusive. The cost per week ranged from $140 to $170, depending upon activities. Registration was in weekly increments; with some attending the entire 9 weeks. Ratios of campers to staff were strictly adhered to with the youngest being 1:5 and oldest 1:8.

    Staff was made up of university, college and high school students, some having graduated. Interviews were carefully carried out, with focus on previous interests and experience with youth. A choice of career especially in youth work was of interest. An intense week of planning and training took place one week prior to camp.

    Counsellors in Training (CIT Level 1 age 13 – 14)). The program (one week) develops leadership and teamwork skills and requires 40 hours of volunteering by assisting with one of the Summit Centre Youth Camps. Level 2 expands on Level, building confidence and capability. Some of these young people assisted the staff. Community Living as well partners with the program.

    Simone has a wish list. She would like to be able to increase the enrolment and number of staff. Naturally more space would be required as the camp expands. Maintenance costs too would increase.

    Other camps offered are Holiday Camp 2 weeks, Spring Break 1 week and PA Days 3+

    Upon entering the building this fall, I smile when I see the picnic table (donated by Robinsons Independent) by the door which says “Eating Together” and is painted with multi coloured hands including names.

    Thanks Simone, staff, volunteers and campers! If my grandson lived in Huntsville, his name would be the first on the registration form for 2018!
    Jill C. Patterson

  2. Scouts Canada has never had anything to do with Pitman’s Bay Camp. Huntsville Boy Scout Ass. raised the money locally in 1951 when the area became available to purchase. The Town of Huntsville was stated as the owner and the Boy Scouts were given full control of the camp. My father Wally Johns and Reverend Frank Milligan were the two individuals that put their heart and soul into this facility for the benefit of all the local youths.

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