History

History

The first mention of a day camp was in 1968. It was decided the Kinsmen would donate $10,000.00 for the construction of two long houses at Wildwood Conservation Area (St. Marys). The Kinsmen and the YMCA were unable to obtain a long term lease on Upper Thames River Conservation Authority land and the project was shelved.

On Saturday April 4, 1970 as part of the Stratford Kinsmen 25th Anniversary celebrations a formal announcement was made. “The Kinsmen Club of Stratford has purchased 25 acres of land one mile south of Harrington to be developed into a permanent YM-YWCA summer camp as a 25th anniversary project. Immediate plans are to build a dam, erect an equipment shed, level and seed a play area, plant trees, and put up fencing. The Kinsmen purchased the property for $7200. and have budgeted a further $25,000. to complete the project. The camp will be rented to the YM-YWCA for $1 per year.”

On May 18, 1971 the sod was turned for two buildings being erected at the camp. A 40′ x 50′ long house with change and wash rooms was being built. On the other side of the pond a pavilion building open on two sides was also being erected. On hand for the sod turning were building foreman, Bill Tanner; Past President Ed Wright; and President Elect Robert Smith.

In June 1971 an open house and family day was held to open the gates of the Y-Kin Day Camp. There were over 200 visitors on hand at this exciting event. It was announced the YM-YWCA would hold a day camp for area children 7 to 13 years of age. The program would run for six one week periods from July 5 to Aug 13. The cost was $6/week for Y members and $7.50/week for non-members. The price included transportation and milk. The bus would leave the Y on Downie street at 8:15 AM and return at 4:45 PM Monday to Wednesday. Thursday night would be sleepout night and the children would return at noon on Fridays.

In 1971 an average of 66 children per week were registered. The day camp was at its peak in 1975 with over 700 children registered for the summer.

In 1976 the Kinsmen added another $20,000. in improvements to the facility. A12′ addition was put on the long house and flush toilets and showers were installed. As well an irrigation pump was added to the pond to decrease bacteria build up if a lack of rain were to decrease stream flow.

The summer of 1976 the camp was host to 120 kids per day at a cost of $15 per week. It was reported that the camp had a friendly indian spirit as guardian. Legend has it that the pond is really Chief Arrowhead’s foot print. Another highlight of the camp was the 150′ rope bridge that spanned the pond. Plans were announced to winterize the longhouse with electric heat and to landscape around the pond, as well as add gravel to the bottom of the swimming area.

On January 26, 1990 it was announced that the Kinsmen had received a provincial grant of $17,225. The money was used to construct a pool and bathhouse at the camp.

In April 1992 the longhouse was insulated and resided, and a covered canopy was added to the rear.

In June 1999 a covered concrete porch was added to the entire length of the long house on the pond side.

In 2001 the Oxford Presbytry of the United Church became the major tenant of the camp. They held six one week camp sessions during the months of July and August. Cabins were built to accommodate the campers.

In 2002 the Kinsmen received $55,000 in a grant from the Trillium Foundation. This enabled the Kinsmen to make needed repairs to the swimming pool, upgrade the kitchen facilities, add a second floor to the longhouse and upgrade some maintenance equipment.

In April 2003 the Canadian Diabetes Association in London agreed to rent the camp for their summer camp.