Knights' summer camp resurrected

By 
  • June 20, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - The efforts of a group of Toronto-area Catholics has guaranteed that there will be a summer camp this year available to underprivileged boys. Four Winds Boys Camp, formerly known as Columbus Boy Camp, will open its doors in August on the shores of Lake Simcoe.
“These boys, most of them live in situations in which they don’t enjoy a vacation away from home,” John Murphy, president of the Four Winds board, told The Catholic Register June 19.

“This is an opportunity for them to get away. . . . It changes their lives. For them, it’s a time they cherish and look forward to.”

Four Winds rises from the groundwork established by Columbus Boys Camp, which was founded by Knights of Columbus Council 1388 in Toronto back in 1929). Though the Knights no longer are officially involved, most of the new players are Knights who saw the need for the archdiocese of Toronto to continue to provide a safe summer getaway for boys who live in poor or socially deprived circumstances.

{sidebar id=2}Many of the boys are in difficult home situations where one or the other parent is absent and money is hard to come by. The camp works with Catholic school boards, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Children’s Aid and others to identify boys who would benefit from the experience.

The boys also often come with special needs: in the past this included attention deficit disorder, Tourettes Syndrome, oppositional defiance disorder, Crohns disease, epilepsy, diabetes and learning disabilities.

To ensure the boys get the special care they need, Murphy said, the camp provides a ratio of one camp counsellor for every four boys.

With the future of Columbus Boys Camp in doubt last year, a small group of Catholics got together and, working with Catholic Charities and ShareLife, both of the archdiocese of Toronto, they were able to obtain new funding.

The camp received $110,000 from ShareLife, along with funding from other organizations such as the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, the camp’s own fund-raising golf tournament and gala dinner and others.

It received a big shot in the arm when the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board decided to contribute the earnings of its annual charity golf tournament to Four Winds.

This tournament raises upwards of $100,000 a year and has supported numerous charities in its 10 years, said Michael Bator, director of education for the Dufferin-Peel board. It is run with the help of Metafore IT Solutions.

This year’s tournament is on July 9 at Rattlesnake Point near Milton, Ont., and still has openings. The price is $2,000 per foursome though Bator said the event will be accepting donations of prizes and other contributions as well.

Bator said the board decided to help Four Winds this year because it fulfils the dual purposes for money raised by the golf tournament: it serves young people and also helps those living in the area under the board’s jurisdiction.

For more information on the The Classic golf tournament, go to the web site metafore.ca/theclassic.

Such money helps pay for many boys to go to camp who wouldn’t be able to afford it. Though families are asked to help pay the camp costs, they are not required to do so if they don’t have the means.

The Four Winds organizers were thankful for the help from the Dufferin-Peel board, as well as from Catholic Charities and ShareLife. “The support we’ve had from both ShareLife and Catholic Charities has been phenomenal,” said Murphy.

In the end, such support means some 450 underprivileged boys will each get a week-long summer camp experience, which includes, besides the camp traditions, weekly Mass.

For more information on Four Winds Camp, call (647) 271-4405, or e-mail fourwinds1@cogeco.ca .

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