Parent - June 2019
I am a single mother to a wonderful 15 year old year son. There is a huge hole in our household and our lives because we don't have any immediate family or a male influence in the home. My son has self-esteem issues and is constantly searching for a community to belong to. Two summers ago, our family was introduced to Crane Lake Discovery Camp.
Crane Lake Discovery Camp (CLDC) is more than just a camp for the boys; there are so many more aspects to participating.
I am not a trusting person, and in reviewing their website I agreed to start the process of exploring CLDC as a summer camp for my son. The Camp Director Ron immediately became a valuable source of support to me. We spoke about how my son and I interact, my numerous concerns about sending my child away for a whole summer. I grilled him on health and safety issues, my expectations as my son’s sole parent and Ron also shared his expectations of me so together, as a team, we could transition my son to camp. This included support for me, who for the first time in 13 years was learning to let go. Some of these conversations were difficult (I didn't make it easy on Ron) but respectful and in the end, I gave consent.
During the summer I received numerous calls from Ron and the camp staff. My son caught a fish. He was eating well. He had a conflict with a peer but used tools he has been learning at camp to overcome it. He was learning to be accountable for his behaviors and actions. He built a mess hall. He canoed. My son was also encouraged to hand write me letters. I looked forward to hearing from him. And along with these calls I was asked how I was doing, what was I doing to grow stronger. What were my ideas on my son’s visit home for 4 days? How did I want it to go?
The 4 day visit home was filled with joy. I had truly missed him. We ate, talked, had an outing and once again I received a phone call filled with support from Ron. My son was thriving. The real indication of that was when he returned home at the end of summer camp. He had grown taller. He had developed some strength, was sleeping well, and was of clear mind. He had learnt respect for himself and others. He was goal focused and able to enter Grade 9 healthy and happy. Crane Lake Discovery Camp doesn't end there though. The support never left.
Each month during the year a reunion took place. My son looked forward to seeing his peers and the staff. Ron kept calling and checking in. My son knows he's loved and someone other than his mother is there for him. This contact became very important in February after I became ill and needed major surgery. The support for my son grew. With Ron's help and concern, my son coped very well during this tough time in our home. I couldn't have recovered as well without my son caring for me, and I am so proud of the character he displayed.
My son had the opportunity to attend for a second summer. The whole process began again of meetings, conversation and support to transition him to being away from home all summer long. I was just as difficult as the year before and Ron took the time to address all my concerns and make goals for both myself and my son.
The second year was a very different experience than the year before. My son was more mature, now he was senior, experienced and was expected to be not only a role model but also work on his goals. I still received the updates and check-ins but the letters home were much less. My son was building confidence and independence and truly having a great experience. This was the summer I needed more help and the staff at CLDC were awesome helping me cope with my separation anxieties. My son once again returned home taller, stronger, and mentally healthy, focused and had made a plan for his future. He wanted a job.
After being home for a few days he started applying and got his first part time job. All the skills he has learnt at CLDC have made him very successful. He works with a team. He has great work ethic. He's responsible. I am very proud. The support from Ron continues. The phone calls, the get together and the messages of support and pride that are helping build my son up.
When I first researched Crane Lake Discovery Camp 2 years ago, I studied the camp concept. This is such a critical piece of the camp’s mission. To date, each and every word is true. The word I hang on to though is "support". Both of us have been blessed by having Ron in our lives and my son now feels that he's part of a community. I feel I have support from a family.
Jessica - January 2019
My son Jacob has had the privilege to attend Crane Lake Discovery Camp for two full summers now. Jacob began camp with goals to improve himself and goals that all boys have at this age. Catch a fish, some spiders and snakes, learn the fundamentals of survival and enjoy the out doors.
Jacob started the summer with a lot of self doubt and very low self esteem. He was having difficulties in school with his peers and teachers, seeking negative attention with poor choices in behaviour.
The support from all of the counsellors at Crane Lake Discovery Camp is absolutely phenomenal. Jacob came home the first summer as a changed boy, his attitude, outlook on life, his whole demeanour had changed for the better. The counsellors helped Jacob to communicate his thoughts and ideas with confidence. They helped him reach his goals, and made him feel like he mattered.
Jacob enjoyed being part of a group and making new friends, he felt important when given opportunities to be a leader. He also liked the schedule, routine and responsibilities.
Jacob and I are forever grateful for the opportunity that all of the team at Crane Lake Discovery Camp has given us. Jacob is on the right path to becoming a strong, successful and caring young man.
Reflections by a Former Camper
Growing up I was a traditional city kid with little to no experience in the outdoors. At Crane Lake Discovery Camp I caught my first fish, carved wooden canoes and experienced the greatness of God through nature for the first time. More than that, the chiefs and leadership team at CLDC taught me how to trust men for the first time in my life. My mother sent to me CLDC a few years after my parents divorced. I was living with my mom and didn’t see my dad very often. My relationship with him had been very strained. My 12 year old self believed that my dad left me and wasn’t interested in my life anymore. I often feared rejection and feared that other men in my life would also leave me.
I created many healthy relationship bonds at CLDC with the peers in my group, the chiefs and other staff. When I think back on my month stay at CLDC I am often reminded of how much the staff cared about us campers. The chiefs spent each night and day with us, helping us do our chores and organizing fun things for us to do. The time we spent together as a group really bonded us and showed me I could trust others. Now, I’m married and expecting our first baby. More importantly though, I’m walking with Jesus- someone I didn’t know very much about before attending Crane Lake Discovery Camp. At CLDC, I saw elements of Jesus in the staff and they are what drew me to follow after Jesus. I also learned how to trust others and develop healthy relationships, an important lesson we all have to learn! I know God used Crane Lake Discovery Camp as a pillar in my relationship with him. Crane Lake Discovery Camp is a great place for anyone to go, but it’s especially important for young men who need discipling from other God-following men.
I would highly recommend that all young men attend Crane Lake Discovery Camp at least once! There’s so much to learn about yourself, others and God. Through the group work and team building experiences, God will teach you things you never knew you needed to learn. It might be challenging at times, but it’s an unforgettable experience that has benefited me so much. Overall, I am very thankful for the opportunity I received by going to CLDC. I want to thank my group mates, my chiefs, the leadership and staff at CLDC, but also the donors who made my camp experience happen. Lives are changed because of you!
Christopher J. St.Denis - 09/08/2016
I’m currently 17 I was born and raised in Guelph On. I currently live there and I’m the process of moving into my own apartment in Fergus ON. this upcoming September, as well with getting a new job there. I’ve been blessed greatly throughout my life. It didn’t start coming to my awareness until I was about 15 after four years of going to Crane lake discover camp(CLDC/Camp). Before my many adventures and lessons learned in the lovely muskoka forest in which CLDC resides. I was what most people would call a troubled youth. I was raised in a home of five kids and a single mother. It was quite the journey growing up as my father was never around and still isnt to this day. I was taught a lot of wrong things from my older siblings when I was young and was often tormented by them. Which lead to me being exposed to an environment I shouldn't have been. Plus we were never really financially well up until recently. My Grandfather helped us out often when i was a child up till when I was 7 when he passed. My grandmother helped us out every now and then but unfortunately was not as giving as my grandfather. Than a year later a close family friend what both me and my mom consider a second mom to me was hit by a train. It was hard for me to take I started getting into more trouble at school and stealing from stores. I skipped half of grade 8 and got arrested in grade 8 as well. I was what most people would call the hardcore rebel. I was addicted to marijuana and cigarettes for a while about from the age of 11-15.
I got invloed CAS (Children's Aid Society) at the time, Now called F&CS (Family & Children Services) when I was about 8 for about six month then we moved to toronto. My mom had met a man as she was with him for four year. After two years of moving constantly and being evacuated from one place due to a fire caused from a drug lab. We moved backed to Guelph and he become a more rough person after we had moved back. He was drinking more often and acting differently and had even been abusive physically and mentally at times. Which lead us getting involved with F&CS Again. It was the greatest blessing meeting this man who had made unwise choices and I say unwise because everybody is only doing what they know how to do given their circumstances. F&CS Had given me the chance to go to a camp called Crane Lake Discovery Camp. I was pumped, then I went to meet Ron & Tom at the CLDC Office in Elmira right above Leroy’s Auto Shop. I didn’t want to go at all after that. It had the word change written all over that and troubled youth don’t take kindly to the word change, But reluctantly I went with it. I remember my first trip up in 2011. My aunt Crystal and her fiance Karl had drove me to the McDonalds in cookstown. Chief Marv drove Ron’s van to pick me up.
I was so nervous I threw my fries up in the parking lot. It was an amazing trip, I remember the stars so vibrant I don’t see them often it one of the cons of living in the city. The drive in the long laneway to the camp that's right off Healey Lake Rd. My first two weeks were so different and hard but man they were amazing. I went home and went back for the full summer of 2012 & 2013 plus the spring and part of summer in 2014. I had my troubles in between the seasons of camp and being at home. When I went home at the end of every camp season I always wanted to go back and stay and never leave it was this amazing comfort and acceptance there. It was the place where I came to know myself and met God. It all started my first year. I gained a strong connection with a Chief at camp named Scott. You’ll understand why i mention him later in this amazing mini-autobiography. Plus it the first time i’ve ever really had a church experience and prayed in my daily routines. Which turned out to be a life changing experience my second year at camp was when it all started.
The summer of 2012 was an amazing experience it led my life to a 360 turn. Chief Scott was there again and I remember a Thursday Night in last one in July to be exact. Chief Scott was reading the bible at night before bed as usual I never really pay attention but that night I was just mesmerized by it captivated. He kept on reading the Psalms and I kept a sharp ear. I was shocked about 5 minutes into him reading I has seen what seen to be a large shadow and felt a calm presence in the Sleeping Tent. It was right in front of me i couldn't believe it but it was right there in front of me. I knew it was the presence of god the moment i felt that blanket of peace and calmness over the Tent. Shortly after that I had chosen to give my life to Jesus and we prayed for a while. Oh the amazing feeling i felt during the prayer was amazing and not only did I but another camper had chosen to give his life to Jesus as well. It’s about 12:30 now we are all done our wonderful experience and heading off to sleep and we just blew out the lantern and a few minutes later I feel someone rubbing my feet like a perfect massage it was so graceful, I was in shock because no one was near my feet.
I turned my head to Scott and told him about it he replied with the story of how jesus washed his disciples feet and it was such an amazing experience overall the entire night. Two weeks later I was baptised by Chief Tom & Ron & Scott and it was amazing. Right on camp property on top of a place we call the Narrows, Beautiful spot. Two doves flew over during the baptism of me and the other camper i had mentioned earlier. In December that year Chief Scott introduced me to a church in Elora now in Fergus called Grace Christian Fellowship and i’ve been a weekly attender ever since my first day. The following years of camp as I got older were so important. Camp is a place where thing happen in good way. The principles they teach like for example Using manners, Prayer for your meal and at certain times of the day, How to solve a problem and do thing for yourself, Wilderness Skills and other skills but most importantly it teaches you how to respect yourself and love yourself so you can improve from your mistake. Every time anyone made a mistake or an accident happened there was no panic of judgment we worked together as one and fixed it no matter how long it took.
These are such important skills to comprehend because without having the chance to go to CLDC and Learn these skills I wouldn't be moving into my own place at 17. I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I now volunteer at my church and for a ministry called Kingdom Repairs that repairs cars and appliances. I am back on track with school and I’ve formed a much better lifestyle than i would have if I didn’t have the blessing I did. Camp also taught me another thing, Life is not about what you have it’s about how you present yourself in life in all circumstances. Plus camp is filled with good Chiefs who you can talk to. I still talk to many to this day and I have grown a outstanding love for CLDC, It’s never a dull moment there. Always stuff on the list to do plus at the end of every session is a special trip a canoe trip and that is packed with so much fun and teamwork it’s the ultimate experience. I am so blessed to have gone there and am even more blessed to have such a flourishing time in my life right now and so much is going on.
From the moment we heard about Crane Lake Discovery Camp we knew that our son had to be a part of it. We first heard about Crane Lake when Ron and Cindy gave a presentation about it, explaining their vision for the camp and their desire to see boys reach their full potential. I was overwhelmed by the genuine care and love that they expressed when talking about the boys they wanted to impact and what they wanted that impact to be. I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed; without even knowing him they believed in and loved my son even when it seemed that eveyone else had given up on him.
Over the years of our son’s involvment in the camp, their love for and belief in him was unwavering; even when faced with many challenges they never gave up on him. We kept expecting the phone call that we always seemed to get, “we have to send him home, this just is not working out” but it never came; in fact, when the going got tough they wanted him to stay longer! They restored our belief that someone really does care and offered us hope as well as much needed respite.
All of the staff at Crane Lake Discovery Camp saw beyone the surface of our son’s behaviour and helped him to see and understand his inherent worth. We were so impressed with their insight, the goals that they helped our son to develop and their consistent followthrough in trying to help him to achieve his goals. One of the most powerful elements of his time at camp was the relationships that he formed, especially with the chiefs. Our son was treated with respect and was valued as the unique person that he is and we are so grateful for their investment in his life.
The tremendous joy that our son experienced because of the awesome wilderness adventures that Crane Lake offers was fantastic; you couldn’t have found a more enthusiastic fisherman! At the same time, he learned valuable skills in teamwork and relating to others because, “everything they do they do together!”
We cannot say enough positive things about Crane Lake Discovery Camp and the impact that it has had, not only on our son, but on our entire family and we are forever grateful for those that serve in this ministry and for what they have poured into each of our lives.