The holiday season has long been revered as a time filled with joyful activity, laughter, and giving. Yet, just as Christmas time should be about spreading joy, so, too, should summertime. For the past 66 years, Camp Amy Molson has been working to ensure needy youth are not forgotten when school is out.
What began as a overnight summer camp for children from foster homes and orphanages has evolved into an institution with facilities for providing more than 150 children and 70 staff with educational and pleasurable two-week summer sessions. Campers age 5 to 13 are billeted in cabins on a 180-acre lakeside site near Grenville, across the Ottawa River from Hawkesbury, Ont.
Everyone follows a regular schedule, rotating through six periods a day that feature arts and crafts, music, drama, nature lore and sports. The two-week summer sessions are highly valuable to kids who might otherwise be stuck in the city bored, uninspired, and at greater risk of getting into trouble, says Shauna Joyce, executive director of Camp Amy Molson. "Throughout these two weeks, we use teachable moments to educate these kids and build up areas where development is lacking," she said.
"A lot of families coming from poverty have deficits in areas like health and problem solving. We try to address these lifestyle disorders." "There have been many success stories as a result of our campers' experience here."
Popular occasions during the sessions are special theme days devoted to celebrating holidays like Halloween and Christmas that may have been overlooked during the regular calendar yearJoyce says
"Some of our kids come from foster homes, so it is their only chance to spend time with one another as a family," she noted. "We try to actively get kids from the same family to spend these weeks together." Fifty families from Camp Amy Molson will be among the thousands of people in the Montreal area who are to receive $125 cheques from The Gazette Christmas Fund this year. The money helps make the holiday season a bit more cheerful for the needy.
The families Camp Amy Molson has selected for the extra money face a wide range of difficulties, Joyce says, but each shares a tremendous gratitude and appreciation for the help. "One family is suffering from domestic violence, while another is coping with a heart problem and the wait for surgery. There is also a family with a young mother going to school and a young father with four boys at home," she pointed out.
"It is always so rewarding to offer help to families who are so appreciative. Often there are tears. Some of our families are selfless enough to tell us they know others who are in greater need than they are. "It is amazing to see how thoughtful people can be. I am just so happy to be a part of this."
© Copyright ( c) The Montreal Gazette