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Matt Singer's Camp Smitty Story

Published June 22, 2022 14:12

Matt Singer Camp SmittyI feel like I have been going to Camp Smitty forever. Well maybe not forever, but how about since I was 3 weeks old?

When I was just a newborn, I had my very first visit to Camp Smitty on the edge of Mink Lake, near Eganville. My mother brought me to visit my grandmother, who spent years helping Camp Smitty thrive. My mother Jessie also dedicated many years ensuring that the magic of camp burned bright. With her well deserved retirement, now it is my turn. Three generations keeping the spirit of camp alive and well. 

I need to tell you about the first time I came to Camp as a Camper. I was 13 years old. I did not feel great. I was not ‘at home in my skin’—not very confident. But you know what? Within a matter of a few days, and by the Closing Camp Fire, I knew I was in. I was a ‘forever’ Camper. 

The magic of Camp Smitty is hard to describe, but I will try so you get a little window into how wonderful it is: 

Imagine for a second that you have never been out of your block, off your street, or even out of your neighbourhood? 

As a first-time camper, you roll up to Camp Smitty and you see—for the very first time—a lake, the blue sky as endless to the horizon, a loon in the distance… 

A sense of quiet (besides the laughter of the other children), settles over the trees, rocks, and cabins. You can hear birdsong, crickets, and the wind gently rushing through the trees. 

It’s magic, and the experience completely transforms young people. 

For almost one hundred years Camp has been a place of refuge, wonder, and growth for thousands of children and teens. Will you give today to ensure we can offer these life-changing experiences to more children?

It costs over $500,000 just to run camp each year. We deeply subsidize camper fees. Plus, no child is turned away due to finances. Your gift today will help us keep Camp open to everyone who wants to leave their apartment, their street, their neighbourhood—and connect to Nature, and each other.

I honestly think Nature is healing. 

It heals kids, along with a deep sense of being valued for who they are, and whatever they are feeling that day. Children learn social and leadership skills, and grow into vibrant, confident kids. Many campers come back and become counsellors, passing the magic of Camp onto the next generation. 

That was my story. In over twenty years, I think I only missed two summers (I was out of the province, so there is that…). I am now the Camp Smitty Manager. It really is my dream job. 

In the summer, I greet hundreds of children and youth, and a full team of talented BGC Ottawa staff. We create an amazing experience that will not be forgotten. Those ten days change the trajectory of many young lives—just as mine was changed. 

I still stay in touch with Campers who joined us decades ago. Those Campers may have some grey hairs, and creaking knees, but they remember the magic of Camp (it is near impossible to forget)! 

Yours In Joyful Camping,

Matt Singer
Manager, Camp Smitty
BGC Ottawa

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