Continuing to Change Lives
The Ontario Camp of the Deaf has been able to change lives for 40 years due to the countless number of volunteers who have given their own time and resources to make camp a better place. There have been so many. A few individuals have had the vision and commitment that made a difference. From the beginning Rev. Rumball and wife Mary Jean had provided the leadership that brought many others to the camp. The members of the Deaf Church and the Ontario Mission of the Deaf had a major role in maintaining the property.
Two members that stepped up to the challenge were Norm Sero and his deaf friend , Walter Wagester . They led the camp property trustees and insured that that camp was ready for the summer each year. They were the unsung heroes of the camp that made sure that the water was flowing and the toilets flushing. They were part of our long term plan but never saw the camp open year round. They spent many weeks together, each spring and fall at the camp and will spend eternity together.(probably fixing something.) Norm Sero built a wooden cross that we hang at camp. It is a constant reminder of the efforts he put into the camp. A faithful servant , Grant Thorburn , gave the camp his talents and skilled hands when he was called upon Grant’s continued financial support has sent hundreds of children to camp over the years. There have been many men and women who have served as Trustees over the years.
The Property Trustees made sure that the camp property was fit for use. The summer Bible Camp children’s program was whole other responsibility that saw many Deaf participate in. In the beginning Rev. Rumball and Mary-Jean were able to manage with the help they could find. As Rev. Rumball’s duties with the Church increased the need for a committed Summer camp Director became evident. A deaf friend, Don MacKillop was there to take on the burden. Don faithfully served the camp until he was called to glory. Don couldn’t do it alone. So many deaf who had a real passion for the camp were there to support the program.
Jane Johnson used her creative skills in the Craft Hall to make sure that every camper was able to enjoy camp a little more and take something home to remember their summer. Jane served the camp for 18 years before her death in 1980. The craft hall was renamed “Jane’s Place”.
The Children had to eat and the women of the Church were there to make sure that we ate well. Much of the leadership came from John Potts . John has been faithfully served the camp since the beginning and continued to do so as the Director and Chairman of the Board until his passing in 2010. He will be greatly missed.
The Ontario Camp of the Deaf has always been a place of “I Can!” and has never been a place where “I Can’t” is often heard. The camp is full of activities and each year we like to add something new. The waterfront is the place where we spend most of our time. It is here that a camper can learn to swim or greatly improve their swimming skills. Our waterfront is fully accessible with ramp ways leading right to the water’s edge. Canoeing kayaking and the peddle boats are great ways to explore our lakes or just relax. For the more adventurous you can take a spin on one of our Inflatable BIG BERTHA by yourself or team up with five friends and jump on the SEA WASP. Of course we‘ll teach you to water ski, knee board or wake board if that is your desire. If you are not afraid of heights you can take a walk to our picnic point and challenge the TOWER . You have a choice. It’s 25 feet to the water on the lower level or climb up to the 32 foot level. Either way it’s a great trip down! Also at the point is the TARZAN rope. It give the campers a chance to swing out over the water and take an exciting plunge!
Once done at the waterfront the campers can head off to the soccer field or baseball diamond or get ready for our own Olympic games on our sand beach volley ball court. Campers love to do crafts and take part in the wood craft program. If it rains, no problem. The Durno Lodge has the Dunlap Gymnasium where we play everything from traditional basketball to craziest of blind beach ball volleyball. Lino Zecca partnering with SMART Rider training Inc. we have done what no other camp has done! Every interested camper and staff was taught how to operate and safely ride a Yamaha dirt bike. It is a huge success.
One of the challenges we face every day is finding the financial resources to keep going. Over the years our faithful donors have sent hundreds of children to camp. These children would not have the chance to come to camp if it were not for those people. The faithfulness of the Deaf Church community, our loyal services clubs and those concerned individuals keep smiles on the faces of children that can’t be erased. People give of their resources as well. A dear friend of the camp has ensured that we have not one, but two motor boats each summer .It’s a great feeling to know that all of our
The Gospel Deaf Fellowship, from Kitchener and area, ensured that our kitchen was properly equipped and donated over $10,000 worth of dining room and kitchen fixtures and equipment. Every Easter for over 28 years, Rev. Rumball has preached Holy Week services at St. Jacobs Congregational Church. The members of the Church have faithfully donated the offerings to the camp. A Muskoka summer Church, Lake St. Joseph’s Community Church has been more than generous over the years.
When we look to meet the needs of the hundreds of disadvantage children that the camp serves, the Telephone Pioneers of America are there. Each year the Fieldway Life Members hold a Christmas Toy drive. Hundreds of toys are collected and we are able to make Christmas morning a true joy for so many children. The Pioneers have put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children each Christmas. The Pioneers were one of the first service Clubs to help us fund raise in order to buy sports equipment. They have purchased kayaks, canoes and waterfront toys for the camp. As well the Pioneers provided us with a 15 passenger van that has served us for over 10 years. The Beaver Bible Class is faithful supporters who have provided resources for several projects. As we grew, the need for more help arose. Each year it seemed that more children needed assistance in getting to camp.
The Quota Club took special interest and has paid the way for needy Simcoe County area deaf young people. Whenever they could the Quota Club has purchased equipment as well. Most recently the bought a new peddle boat for the children. It has been used for hundreds of hours putting smiles on every face.