Camp Outlook

By Trilby Goouch
Blogs Editor

Meet Camp Outlook, an Ontario camp formed by Queen’s alumni Ron Kimberley that focuses on supporting and encouraging Kingston youth ages 13-17 through camping trips and wilderness experience. The camp is catered to those who couldn’t otherwise afford camp or who are experiencing difficulties at home or at school. I decided to reach out to Queen’s students Evan Woodley, ArtSci ’13 and Matthew Ondercin, ArtSci ’12 , the fall and winter camp directors for Camp Outlook, to find out more and shed light on the great opportunities available with the camp.

QJ: What inspired you both to get involved with Camp Outlook?

Woodley: I have always been an avid camper and tripper; it was a large part of my childhood and definitely shaped the person who I have become. I worked at a summer camp (Camp Quin-Mo-Lac) for five summers, and through this experience met some people involved with Camp Outlook who encouraged me to join when I got to Queen’s (even going so far as to print off the application for me). I didn’t really realize how important camping had been to me until I was faced with the fact that it was a luxury not everyone gets, and from that point on I was committed to Outlook.

Ondercin: I had never been camping as a child. I grew up farming and spending all my free time playing in the woods around my house in the country so I was very comfortable outside but I had never been taught how to paddle. I saw an advertisement on campus in my second year that just said “by the end of the summer I’ll either be buff or dead” which was a quote from a past staff a few summers before. This was exactly what I wanted, just to really challenge myself for the entire summer. After seeing and experiencing the impact that this program had on the children and the change that I could invoke in someone’s life in a matter of nine days, I was hooked.

QJ: How does the camp select volunteers and how can students get involved?

Woodley: Camp Outlook runs two separate but related programs, Summer Outlook and Fall/Winter Outlook. Our fall/winter camping program, which is currently underway, is run mostly by Queen’s students who give up two weekends a semester to go on trip. They help run multiple fundraisers and events and attend a training retreat weekend each semester. We advertise and accept applications every September and usually every spring, which is followed by an interview… Outlook’s summer program is a quite a bit more involved. Volunteering involves a three month commitment from June to August, in which time the volunteers learn everything they need to know about tripping, get a variety of qualifications including their ORCA, Bronze Cross and Wilderness first aid and then lead three trips in the summer. Applications for the summer program are now available at http://campoutlook.ca/volunteer.htm.

QJ: What kinds of outdoor activities does the club organize and where do they take place?

Woodley: Our fall and winter trips involve a weekend of camping about an hour north of Kingston. The activities carried out on these trips change from week to week. Some groups play games, build shelters and take long hike while others just relax in the sun (and the snow) and tell stories.
In the summer the trips we run are 7, 9 and 15 day canoe trips in Algonquin. These trips are full of kids and their enrollment is based on the campers’ prior experience and availability.

QJ: From your experience, what are the most significant benefits that these youth receive by interacting with the environment?

Ondercin: The benefits that these youth experience on our trips are all very subjective to the child. The wilderness calms even the most active minds and all of our staff love being outside as you can see from their faces when they are on the bus or in the van. Everyone’s face just lights up, which is infectious. We try to provide an escape from everyday life, a break to just enjoy the fundamentals.

QJ: What’s the best part about working with these youth? What’s the greatest challenge?

Ondercin: Anyone that has worked at a summer camp can tell you that working with kids is difficult. There are definitely some interesting and unique challenges when you work for Camp Outlook. Personally I think that is the best part, there’s always a new challenge and you never know what the day will bring. The best moments are those when you get to just chat with the campers, whether it’s on site after a long day or while paddling across some of Algonquin’s beautiful waters.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.