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Letter to National – Melody, Camp Klahanie

by on May 10, 2010

December 20, 2009

Chris Burton,
Chief Commissioner
Girl Guides of Canada
50 Merton Street
Toronto, ON M4S IA3

Dear Chris

Since the decision to close 17 Ontario Guide Camps was first announced I have repeatedly heard the same comment when speaking with those involved in the decision making – “I don’t know your camp.” This comment has disturbed me greatly. How can people not “in the know” be involved in making such a monumental decision? A decision that is sure to devastate Guiding in the small towns that called Camp Klahanie home.

I have also been told that we will go through a mourning period but we will have our memories. Memories are all well and good but we’d rather have a safe, nearby camping facility to share with both our youngest and oldest members of Guiding.

Let me tell you about Camp Klahanie, which translated means, “Great Outdoors”.

From the very beginning, it was not intended to be a “money-maker”. It was the vision of a local conservationist. It was built on the foundation of community support, sweat equity and the belief that “Guides are thrifty”.

Although a place for Guides to camp for a number of years prior, the property was officially offered to the Girl Guide units in Goderich and Bayfield by John Hindmarsh and his wife in 1970. In 1973, the land was given in trust to be used as a Girl Guide Camp for the sum of $1.00.

From 1971 through to 1993, records show that over $33,550.00 was donated by the Goderich Lions’ Club in support of constructing a cooking facility, a Brownie House with washrooms and a picnic shelter. This does not include the labor that the Lions’ members gave to ensure that these projects were done both properly and frugally.  The membership of local Guiding also rose to the occasion whenever money to complete a project was needed through bake sales, teas, hot dog days and, of course, by selling cookies.

By 1996, the big items on the wish list at Klahanie were filled and the camp’s condition has remained excellent due to the efforts of local Guiders and community supporters that believe in it; take pride in it and maintain it.

In fact, Girl Guides of Ontario and Girl Guides of Canada never provided one penny of support to the camp in the over 30 years that it has officially existed. They classified Klahanie as a “District” Camp and therefore didn’t know under whose jurisdiction it fell.

I remain resolved that Ontario Council is making a grave error by closing Camp Klahanie; up until Girl Guides of Ontario took it over three years ago, it was not an expensive camp to run and broke even or made money each year. Then suddenly there were unheard of expenses such as travel allowances, long distance phone calls and sky-rocketing insurance.

Not that long ago we were self-sufficient girls, youth and mature women, free to enjoy the great outdoors and those of us “in the know” strongly believe that we can be that way again.


Melody Falconer-Pounder
A Guider and Supporter of Camp Klahanie for over 20 years

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