Camp Kanawana: “This is where I grew up”
Stuart McLean’s connection to Camp YMCA Kanawana dates back to the summer of 1969 when he arrived at Camp as a counsellor in the Senior Boys Section.
To hear him tell it (as he did in a memorable Vinyl Cafe radio show), that summer at Camp YMCA Kanawana was life-changing. By any measure, he should have been considered a grownup: he was a university student who had hitchhiked across the country and had worked in construction and factories. But when he arrived at Camp YMCA Kanawana, he was still very much an insecure young man.
Camp YMCA Kanawana changed that. It gave Stuart the responsibility and encouragement to make decisions, to discover who he was as a person, to figure things out by himself. Camp provided a safe environment where he could try new things and make mistakes. Camp allowed him to grow.
“Probably because there were no parents here. And whatever I did that summer , whatever choices and decisions I made, I had to make them for myself and by myself.
And you know what it is like at Kanawana. There are all these great people, and they seemed to like me, and before long, I couldn’t help myself, before long I started to trust myself. And believe in my self. And most importantly, like myself”.
Stuart worked as a counsellor at Camp YMCA Kanawana for five summers in the late 60s and early 70s.
Of course, summer camp offers positive experiences for campers as well as counsellors. For many children and teens, summer camp is the first time they are away from their parents for any length of time. In the safe and welcoming environment that camp offers, kids can learn just who they are – and who they have the potential to become.
The Stuart McLean Camp YMCA Kanawana Fund, created by Stuart, his family and his friends, will help children and teens without the financial means attend Camp YMCA Kanawana, a community where they learn to care for themselves, each other and the environment. By supporting the Fund, you’re helping Canadian children and teens make friends, test their boundaries, learn about themselves and grow into strong and confident young people.
About Camp YMCA Kanawana and the YMCAs of Québec:
Founded over 120 years ago on 550 acres of wilderness north of Montreal, Camp YMCA Kanawana is Québec’s oldest summer camp. It’s a microcosm of Canada, where English, French, rich, poor, recent immigrants and locals sing together around the camp fire. Each year, we welcome over 800 campers aged 7 to 16 years from across Canada and throughout the world.
With one in five children living in poverty, Camp YMCA Kanawana tries to ensure that a minimum of one in five campers is from a financially disadvantaged background. The YMCAs of Québec offered over $150,000 in financial support to children and teens to attend Camp YMCA Kanawana in 2016 alone – and we do this every single year. Your gift to the Stuart McLean Camp Kanawana Fund will help meet this need.
Camp YMCA Kanawana is part of the YMCAs of Québec, a charitable organization founded over 165 years ago. We help build healthy and vibrant neighbourhoods, where different generations engage, respect and spend time with each other, and where everyone is welcomed, whatever their background.
Please click here to support the Stuart McLean Camp YMCA Kanawana Fund:
Cheques for the Stuart McLean Camp YMCA Kanawana Fund should be made payable to the YMCAs of Québec Foundation and mailed to:
YMCAs of Québec Foundation
1435 Drummond Street, 4th Floor
Please reference Stuart McLean Camp YMCA Kanawana Fund on the memo line of the cheque.
For more information, please call: 514-849-5331, ext. 1239
Photos courtesy of Stuart McLean's family & Derek Walsh.