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Camp Caritou saved

by on September 21, 2017


Local guides and supporters hold signs outside Camp Caritou in 2011 protesting the sale of their camp by the Girl Guides of Canada Ontario Council. Nugget File Photo


Camp Caritou has been saved.

A long bitter and emotional court case has finally come to an end.

“We have the keys now,” said Cindy Brownlee, spokeswoman for Friends of Camp Caritou.

“It’s a great camp and this is a win for everyone. Camp Caritou belongs to this community. All the time, effort and energy to win this was totally worth it.”

The Friends of Camp Caritou, and the Bonfield and District Lions Club announced that after six years a settlement of the court proceedings involving the future of Camp Caritou has been reached with Girl Guides of Canada.

All parties have come together to resolve this matter in the best interests of all the stakeholders, and the community.

Camp Caritou, located on Lake Nosbonsing, will resume operation in 2017, and will be jointly operated by the Friends of Camp Caritou, and the Bonfield and District Lions Club.

Brownlee said when Camp Caritou resumes operation, it will operate as a charitable purpose trust with the objective of providing camping experiences primarily to the children and youth of the local community and area.

Programs will include nature and environmental programs, camping experiences, leadership skills, arts and crafts and other related activities.

“Camp Caritou will not operate as a Girl Guide Camp, and will not be in any way affiliated with Girl Guides of Canada. However, Girl Guides of Canada is supportive of the operation of the camp by the Friends of Camp Caritou, and the Bonfield and District Lions Club,” Brownlee said.

She said the facility will be used by local Girl Guide units, and other youth groups such as scouts, church groups and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

There will also be access for adults and local organizations to use the facilities at the camp, as well, rentals for weddings and family reunions.

Brownlee said the camp has sat idle for eight years and there is plenty of work that needs to be done before campers can pitch their tent.

“We have to look at the furnace and water system and the ground maintenance needs attention,” she said.

“We will need volunteers and maybe some fundraising.”

The Friends of Camp Caritou group launched legal action in 2011, after Girl Guides of Canada’s board of directors decided in 2009 to close and sell 16 Ontario camps, including Camp Caritou.

The group is comprised of long-serving members and Guiders who wanted to preserve the property for future Girl Guides.

Volunteers held numerous fundraisers, such as pasta dinners, as a way to raise funds.

The camp, a 42-acre parcel of land was founded by Algonquin Division Girl Guides, in 1961. It’s located in Bonfield on the shores of Lake Nosbonsing.

The camp served as the main base for camping and outdoor education.

In the beginning, camping was restricted to warmer months, however there was a need for girls to experience winter camping.

Volunteers came to the rescue by raising money and building shelters.

In 1995, a permanent winterized building was constructed that can hold 30 girls for winter camping.

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