Just down the coastline of Buffalo Lake from the Village of White Sands is a small camp with a big history.
Sitting on nearly 100 acres of land adjacent to Buffalo Lake, Bar Harbour Camp offers youth four weeks of camping every summer.
The camp came into being the early 1920s when the land owner, Fred Holder, donated it to the United Church for youth camping.
Currently operated by a non-profit society, the camp has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the on-again, off-again health restrictions, the camp was unable to open its doors at all in 2020 and only managed to run a two-week camp in the summer of 2021.
Even the summer of 2021 camp was nearly put into jeopardy when the camp’s water processing plant had the pipes burst weeks prior in the spring.
“It took a lot of time to get that put together,” said Helen Reed, camp director and board secretary.
“It was a push to get the water system to a place where it could handle the two weeks.”
Still, the staff came together in a very short time, and the camp was able to welcome just over 100 campers for two weeks worth of camps.
“It was good,” said Reed.
“It was short. It was stressful.”
With the restrictions in place at the time, the camp really had to focus on spacing and cleaning.
“It taught us a lot about our habits, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing,” said Reed.
Something that has been helping the camp keep going has been the insurance which paid for the water system repairs and a variety of grants which have been made available during COVID.
“We’re tight,” said Reed.
“We’ve been tighter, but we’re tight. We’re hoping we can run full sessions this year.”
Full sessions will see around 250 kids at the camp over the month of July.
“We’re not a big camp,” said Reed.
“We’re a down-to-earth, traditional, unsophisticated camp. We’re unplugged.”
Activities for kids taking part in the camp include playing games, swimming in the lake, putting on dramas and even going canoeing.
“We create a very small community,” said Reed.
Because kids aren’t allowed to have their electronics at the camp, Reed says the kids learn how to talk to each other and build real-life relationships again.
“For some of the fifteen-year-olds, that freaks them out a little,” said Reed, with a laugh.
“About 50 per cent of the kids run past their parents to the vehicle for their phone.”
Several camps are offered throughout July, each based on a child’s age.
The first camp, the Scamper Camp, is a two-day camp for kids aged six to 10-years-old.
“It’s their first camp, six-year-olds aren’t ready to spend a week away from home,” said Reed.
The next camp is for the 10 to 12-year-old age group, which runs for five nights.
The next two camps, which run concurrently, are the 12 to 14-year-olds and the 15-to-17-year-olds. The camps run separately but during the same week.
The final camp is for ages nine-to-12-year-olds.
Running throughout the summer is also the Leaders-in-Training program, which allows youth aged 16 to 17-years-old to work alongside the camp counsellors as youth leaders.
The summer camp runs with a staff of around a dozen people, plus youth leaders.
During times when the summer camp isn’t operating, the camp is able to generate revenue by renting out campsites and serving as overflow or alternate to Rochon Sands.
In addition to the revenue generating activities, the camp also does a variety of fundraising activities such as raffles, and Reed notes that donations are always welcome.
The camp is overseen by a board of volunteers, who are looking for new members.
For more information, or to register your children for camp, visit www.barharbourcamp.com.
To get more information regarding the board, contact Helen Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.