By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After a two-year hiatus, Camp Vincent is back in action.
Closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular children’s camp near Bothwell will welcome youngsters again this summer.
Connie Badour, president of the Kent Deanery of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, said things are looking up for the organization hard hit by COVID-19 and vandalism.
“We’re very, very hopeful,” Badour told The Chatham Voice recently. “We’re hoping for 560 kids this summer.”
After two years of teetering on the edge, donations from the Chatham-Kent Community Foundation and South Kent Wind have allowed the camp to move forward.
Organizers have been able to fix a portable unit needed for staff housing.
“We’ve got it partially done,” Badour added. “We’re still working getting things done and bringing buildings up to code.”
A summer rite-of-passage for youth from across Southwestern Ontario, Camp Vincent has welcomed some 30,000 children and 500 staff in its 51 years of operation.
Yet challenges lie ahead, with increased operating costs due to inflation and high gas prices.
Badour said the camp’s food suppliers are predicting a 30- to 40-per-cent increase, which will impact the cost to campers.
However, Badour said organizers may plant a garden to help offset costs and provide an activity for campers.
“This is one the ideas we are tossing around,” Badour said.
Two new staff members have also been hired. Dan Richards is a new camp administrator, while Jess Van Hal will serve as the summer camp director.
The weeklong residential camp is set to open July 10, ending on Aug. 26.
The camp will be hosting two volunteer days on April 30 and May 14. Everyone is welcome to come out and clean, weed and dust to help get the place back in shape.
A public open house will also be held June 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Badour said high school students can complete community hours on the volunteer days if they wish.
The mailing address for St. Vincent Camp is SSVP, 80 King Street East, Chatham, ON N7M 3M8. The phone number is 519-354-1885 and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information can also be accessed on the camp’s recently upgraded webpage.
“A return to normal” is just wishful thinking. Delusional at this point.