A series highlighting the good works of the OEE partners to which PACT will be donating.
Camp Outlook Information
By: Sheryl Yip
1) What is Camp Outlook?
Camp Outlook is a volunteer-run registered Ontario charity devoted to providing youth from the Kingston Area between 13 and 17 with an opportunity to experience wilderness camping.
Each summer, our volunteer staff members lead groups of four to six youth on 7-, 9-, and 15-day canoe and portaging trips in Algonquin Park in July and August. Volunteer staff are often university students and are prepared with an intensive month of training in which they learn no-trace camping techniques, first-aid, conflict resolution and many other skills required to lead wilderness excursions.
Over time, the organization expanded to include a Fall/Winter program that continues to offer weekend camping trips to Frontenac Provincial Park where youth take part in activities like snowshoeing, hiking, and shelter-building. Like the Summer Program, the Fall/Winter Program is also offered on a donation-only basis.
Outlook’s campers are youth who are referred by schools and social agencies based on the following criteria: that they face various social and/or economic challenges and that they would benefit from a wilderness experience. Camp Outlook often provides these campers with their first wilderness experience. With positive and caring support from their trip leaders, many youth learn how to better face and appreciate challenges both inside and outside of the Park. Camp Outlook offers this out-tripping program to its campers on the basis of no set fee.
- The worth and potential of youth experiencing social, behavioural, economic or other challenges
- The therapeutic value of wilderness tripping
- The encouragement of individual ability and self-esteem in a unique environment
- The valuable contribution of volunteers to society through work with youth
- To encourage youth to realize their worth as individuals, their abilities, and their potential to achieve.
2) What was the inspiration behind it?
Outlook was started in 1970 by Ron Kimberley, a Queen’s University Medical Student, who was a camping enthusiast and believer of the therapeutic value of the wilderness. For over 40 years of operation, Outlook has provided summer and winter camping services to youth free of charge through the generosity of volunteer staff, private donors, and fundraising drives.
3) How does it impact the community?
For over 40 years this volunteer program has provided untold benefits to the Kingston community Completing a 9-day canoe trip can cause a remarkable boost in confidence for a youth who is often made to feel that success is not an option for him or her.
- Camp Outlook has established partnerships with a number of social agencies and schools throughout its 43 years of operation.
- Outlook only takes youth on trip who have been referred by a social agency or school, and we have developed a strong relationship with these agencies over the years.
- The Children's Aid Society of Kingston has referred many youth who could benefit from the Outlook experience. The organization has been sending youth to us for many years.
- Youth Diversion is a small program within the Kingston School Board that supports students through their high school careers. Youth Diversion sends dozens of youth to Camp Outlook every year based on the firsthand observation of how an Outlook trip can change a youth’s life
- Last year, Outlook teamed up with Kingston Sexual Assault Centre to send out a female-only trip with youth who are victims of sexual assault. This trip was a huge success and both organizations have committed to continuing the partnership.
- Outlook has also worked with Girls Inc., an organization that offers educational programs to support girls in their communities, to boost the enrollment of female campers.
- Outlook also gets camper referrals from the Limestone District School Board, which has schools in Napanee, Kingston and the Frontenac district. Additionally, Outlook receives referrals from Children`s Aid Societies and School Boards from surrounding areas including Belleville, Trenton and Bancroft.
4) What does it mean to you personally?
As a Youth Canoe Trip Leader for Camp Outlook in 2008, I witnessed first-hand how a wilderness trip can create a transformative environment in which campers have unique opportunities to develop life skills, social competencies and resiliency. In Camp Outlook, I see a reflection of my own passion for providing support to youth so that they can carry their new skills and successes forward to manage the complex challenges of their lives.
5) My history with Camp Outlook
I have been volunteering with Camp Outlook since 2008. In my first year, I volunteered as a canoe trip leader. Then in 2009, I was one of the summer directors. Since then, I have been a member of the Board of Directors