Camp Vincent to reopen this summer

0
681

By Michael Bennett
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Ridgetown Independent News

Camp Vincent is re-opening this summer as a rental facility, with plans of returning as a youth summer camp in 2025.

The camp, located on Longwoods Road south of Bothwell, has not operated since the summer of 2019. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions forced the camp’s closure from 2020-22 and an attempt to re-open last summer was unsuccessful due to a lack of registrants and staff.

“Our kids are too important. We feel we should give it another try,” said Patricia Pook, president of the St. Michael’s-St. Paul’s (Ridgetown and Thamesville) Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Particular Council Kent Deanery. “We can’t do enough for the kids who need help and a place to go.”

“Camp Vincent is a place where they learn leadership skills and how to be confident …. and to have fun,” Pook said.

The camp committee, however, felt it was best to regroup and develop a solid plan to revamp the youth summer camp program that the local St. Vincent de Paul Society has provided since 1971.

To help raise funds to support the summer camp’s return, the committee is opening its 67-acre facility for family and group rental camping this spring and summer.

“We’re open to anyone who wants to rent it – families or small groups for week or weekend camping, special events, day camps, even if someone wants to run a sports camp,” Pook said.

She said the committee is in the process of establishing packages and pricing, which will be posted on the camp’s website.

Renters will have full use of the camp’s amenities, including 10 well-ventilated cabins, each with a washroom, and each sleeps eight.

The camp also features a recreational hall, kitchen and dining halls, new washroom and shower facility, craft building, canoe pond, saltwater swimming pool and a huge open playing area with a baseball diamond, volleyball and soccer fields.

The 67-acre property, located on the Thames River’s north shore, features several walking trails through its forest area.

The campgrounds have previously been rented out to families and groups for special events. Pook said past renters will be contacted to make them aware of the camp’s availability this season.

The camp will be open for rent from May through September.

While the camp has not operated since 2019, St. Vincent de Paul has still had to pay taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance over the last four seasons.

“There is a group of people who have worked really hard through this, volunteering at the camp and working on getting the buildings in perfect condition,” Pook said.

But with no revenue from the four-year closure, the Society has felt the impact of the financial crunch.

St. Vincent de Paul was forced to sever and sell off two parcels of land last year in order to pay off the mounting expenses with limited income.

The Society is investigating available grants and will contact past individual and business donors to bring them up to date about the reopening plans, with hopes of renewing their donations.

There is a GoFundMe online account that people can visit at www.gofundme.com and type in Camp Vincent in the search icon to donate.

Pook said the next order of business is to hire a maintenance manager to oversee the camp’s physical needs and then hire a camp director.

“The first thing we’re trying to do is get enough money to keep the camp going. The next step will be hiring a camp director,” she said.

The camp director will begin working on a business plan to welcome kids back to the camp in 2025, which will include hiring staff, developing programs, raising funds and attracting campers.

“That will take a lot of the weight off our shoulders,” Pook said of the 13-member camp committee dedicated to keeping the camp alive – and off the real estate market.

Anyone interested in renting a cabin or the campgrounds for a larger group activity this summer can visit campvincent.ca.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here