The history and heritage of Laurentian Camp Cherith dates back to the 1940′s. Camp as we currently know it has been operating since 1969.
The “Orignal” Beginnings
- 1948: A Pioneer Clubs (then Pioneer Girls) camp is organized with the intent of serving the Eastern Ontario and Quebec region.
- 1950′s: Pioneer Girls Camp is first held at L’Orignal, Ontario, on the Ottawa River off Highway 17. This camp ends in 1962.
- March 1, 1969: “Laurentian Camp Cherith” launched to service Eastern Ontario and Quebec, with $312 from the L’Orignal Camp and a $100 gift from Walkerton Camp Cherith.
- April 12, 1969: First year held on Lac des Quatorze Isles (Fourteen Island Lake) at Camp de Jeunesse Chrétienne, a French Baptist campsite near St. Jerome, Quebec. Seven guides and 16 girls attend the two-week camp.
- Estimated camp budget $770.50. Actual expenditures: $1,366. Camper fees bring us to within $45 of that amount.
Laurentian Camp Cherith: First Years
- 1970: After checking out different campsites, Laurentian Camp Cherith begins operating two-week girls’ camp sessions at Camp Kalalla, in Alcove, Quebec..
- 1978: Camp sessions change from two weeks to 10 days.
- 1987: Boys start coming to camp for the first time!
- 1989: Camp nearly closes down. Michelle Bedard, Dorothy Loewen, Rose Meunier-Murphy, Nancy Moffett, Miriam Sears, Rick Beurling, Carolyn & Wendal Carkner, and Helen Turle are key players in saving it.
- 1991: Camp changes to three one-week sessions.
- May 12, 1992: Sonya Uloth, a long time staff member, dies of cancer. Sonya, known by her camp name as “Tony”, managed tuck at camp. Kalalla’s tuck room becomes known as “Tony’s Tuck”.
- 1994: We try four weeks of camp — two in July, and another two in August.
- 1996: “Service Team” program begins as an alternative to CILT. Over the years, Service Team members build a new flag pole, a portable stage, a BBQ pit, and new outhouses. Favourite task: fireworks on Canada Day!
- 2006: In response to increasing numbers, the Explorer division is introduced for older campers in grades 10-11.
- 2007: In response to consistent growth, the Board of Directors begins looking at campsite options as we plan for the future.
- By chance, Barb and Dave Johnston visit the “River Farm Christian Campground”. They discover that the owners just put the property up for sale.
- The Board of Directors visits the River Farm campground and begins discussing the possibility of purchasing it.
- January 2008:The Board spends a full weekend in discussion and prayer. The big decision is made: purchase the site.
- July 2008: Our final summer at Camp Kalalla. Tears shed as we say goodbye!
- September 26, 2008: Ground Breaking and Dedication Ceremony. For the first time in 60 years, we own a property!
- 2009: Phase I of construction begins. We build 10 cabins, two wash stations, new roads, and upgrade the camp water purification system, entirely by volunteers.
- July 2009: Our first summer on the new property, with four weeks of camp. Without a dining hall, we borrow a canvas “marquee” tent.
- Fall 2010: Phase II of construction begins, including a Quonset Hut for storage and a pavilion as a temporary dining facility. Summer camp registrations are up 37% from 2009.
- October 16, 2010: Long-time staff member Wendal Carkner (“Wilkie”) passes away. The Camp Board votes to name the Wilkie Memorial Pavilion in his honour.
The story isn’t over yet! We continue to develop our campsite and build our camp ministry. By coming to camp as a camper, a staff member, or a volunteer in some other capacity, you are part of Camp Cherith’s history too!
Many people have dedicated years of their lives towards the Camp Cherith ministry. To you, we are most grateful. We are also incredibly grateful for the blessings that God has given to our little camp, and look forward to many more great things to come!