The Essential Program
By Jana Neufeld, Administration & Programs
Last winter, as we prepared for the summer of 2021, we had a whole filing cabinet worth of tentative summer ideas for various scenarios of restrictions, from big camps to small camps, city day camps and day canoe excursions, camper lake trips and family groups. We held all these ideas in an open hand, hoping that come July it would be safe to realize at least a couple of them. Most of all, we hoped to run the Leaders in Training program (LIT), and we agreed that even if we couldn’t run any camps on MacKinnon, surely, we could make the program which was essential to the running of future camp seasons, work. The participants were old enough, and the groups small enough, that adapting the program to meet the requirements of our situation seemed like a manageable task.
Sure enough, at the beginning of July, small boatloads of chattering teenagers poured onto the island. There were 14 of them, seven girls and seven boys, but it felt like there were 50 of them (the kitchen team can confirm). Between the waterfront hijinks, the expertly crafted music video they made and the somewhat less expertly crafted haircuts they gave each other, MacKinnon was finally overflowing with the exuberance it had been missing.
Despite the forest fires that ravaged much of northern Ontario this summer, both groups went on not one but two canoe trips: first on Shoal Lake and then on the Turtle River. They couldn’t make campfires due to the fire bans that continued all season, but this young team should all be adept at using a WhisperLite camp stove.
Overall, the LIT program was a joy to observe. I was so encouraged to see the enthusiasm that the LITs have for Manitoba Pioneer Camp and everything that we do and experience here. They reminded me yet again of what a magical place MacKinnon Island is, and I hope they come back as leaders for many years to share that with campers.