Boys at Camp Caribou participated in sports, hiking and swimming while attending Mass and spiritual reflection seminars. Photo by Riley McGuire

Camp aims to bring out the very best in boys

By  Emma Dias, Youth Speak News
  • September 18, 2019

Riley McGuire has some fond memories of summer camp life. Now he’s hoping to create new ones for the next generation.

“My father and I used to attend a fantastic Catholic boys camp in the London (Ont.) area and we thought we’d like to start up something similar for families in the GTA, although families from Ottawa attend as well,” said McGuire, who is the director of Caribou Camp in Barry’s Bay, Ont., about 200 kilometres west of Ottawa.

McGuire honed his camping skills at Knight’s Quest Boys Camp hosted by Family Foundations Institute, which began in 1999. It was started by a group of fathers wanting to give their sons, ages nine to 14, a camping experience aimed at encouraging character development.

That’s his goal, too, at Caribou Camp which has been taking place during the last week of the summer for the past four years. Sixty boys aged eight to 17 attended the course Aug. 25-30. 

“We would like to provide young men with an opportunity to have fun and make new friends, while learning the fundamentals of character, leadership and teamwork,” said McGuire.

“At Caribou Boys Camp, young men are surrounded by other men of principle and faith, who act as role models for them. It helps them see that living the faith and growing in character is not just something their parents tell them, but something many other young men are engaged in. It gives them an experience of faith fully lived out, that we hope will stay with them for many years.” 

A typical day at the camp would include a morning Mass for those who would like to attend and the rest of the morning and afternoon is spent playing sports, swimming, hiking, making campfires and other outdoor activities. In the evening, the boys are asked to prepare a short theatrical production to present on the last evening. There is also a short talk on a virtue everyday, such as fair play, service and courage, and time for confession or spiritual reflection.

McGuire said the Catholic community needs men of strong faith, now more than ever, who can influence their families, friends and colleagues. 

“These men won’t come from nowhere,” said McGuire. “If we want such men in our communities, we need to make spaces where such principles are fostered and such growth can happen. Thus the importance of good boys camps.”  

The boys who attend the camp come from a variety of backgrounds, but are united by the bonds made at the camp. “Learning is always easier when one is having fun, and this way the boys understand that faith doesn’t in any way make life less enjoyable. On the contrary, it enlivens it,” McGuire said.

The camp staff includes a priest and in all the religious activities, Caribou Boys Camp follows the spirituality of Opus Dei: seeking holiness in ordinary life. 

For those interested in sending their son(s) to the Caribou camp, registration for next year’s camp begins in March and information is available at caribouboyscamp.ca

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