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Letter to Province – Carol

by on May 4, 2010

November 20, 2009

Dear Marnie,

I am a Guide leader in North Bay, and I was very upset to read that Camp Caritou is to be closed in December. When I first heard about possible camp closings, I was not worried at all. Camp Caritou is winterized Girl Guide camp with enough space and facilities to accommodate 30 girls. It is a fantastic resource, and there is nothing similar in our price range in our area. “They couldn’t possibly close it, there’s nothing else that compares nearby,” I thought to myself. I found myself extremely shocked that it is to be sold off.

Our guide unit has two camp weekends per year at Caritou, one in February, and one in May. We don’t usually camp in summer. To consider alternatives, Doe Lake is not only a fair distance from North Bay (too far to carpool, and buses are too expensive) but closed in winter*. I am happy to read that Camp Adelaide has winter accomodations, but it is even farther than Doe Lake. Our guide camps usually cost the girls $30-$40 each, and leaders don’t usually pay. If our costs go up because we need to go to a private or church facility, then girls don’t come. And if it becomes even more expensive due to having to hire a bus, we might get less than half of the group willing to pay. In a group of 20, that is hardly feasible, and if the facility requires a minimum number of participants, well you can forget it.

I fear small units, like that of my daughter’s Sparks unit, will suffer, and simply not be able to have a camping weekend at all. I fear that underpriveleged kids won’t apply for camperships, or that folks who simply cannot bear the cost of yet another expensive trip will say no, or abandon Guiding altogether.

My five year old daughter has been watching me leave for camp for years, waiting for the chance to go. I’ve been promising her that she can camp “when she’s in Sparks.” I also encouraged two more girls on our street to join Sparks as well, and camping was a big enticement. Caritou is close enough for parents to pick up their 5 year olds if they need to (homesick, ill, etc.) which happens frequently with Sparks, as you may know. Now I’m afraid that they won’t get the chance to go camping after all. And now that I think about it, I don’t want to send my daughter on her first camping trip away from home if it would take 2 hours to get there.

I am from Toronto. I know that’s where the majority of the money and population is. But it isn’t right that the camps should be closed because they do or do not make a profit. When I look at the number of camps within an hour’s travel time of Toronto, I find plenty of choices. And then I see the numbers of Girl Guide camps in Northern Ontario. Which now, apparently, will be zero. You couldn’t leave us even one camp? I realize that cutbacks need to be made. Over a million dollars has to come from somewhere. But to leave Northern Ontario out to dry seems rather heavy handed. I always believed that Girl Guiding was not about the money. We subsidize those girls who cannot afford all the costs of Guiding. Well, to abandon Northern Ontario’s Guide camps because “we can’t pay” isn’t right.

Please leave us one camp. Let’s figure out a way to keep Camp Caritou.


30th North Bay Guides

*Doe Lake is now open in winter, as of Jan 2010

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