On The Stump! – Camp Oochigeas 25th Anniversary Open House

Namita Joshi

They are always singing at Camp Ooch. Located in idyllic Muskoka Region, Camp Oochigeas was filled with the laughter, voices and energy of campers, councilors, and visitors alike on Sunday July 27, 2008. The camp for children with cancer celebrated it 25th Anniversary with a ribbon cutting ceremony, camp tours and an outdoor lunch. Indeed, it was a day to remember.

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The vision shown by its six founding members in 1983 has made Camp Ooch a special meeting ground for friends and family. There is a palpable sense of excitement from both campers and guests. By honoring the founding principles of the camp, Camp Ooch has in a short time, established itself as a safe, welcoming and fun place for its campers to focus on being kids.

Against the tranquility of Donner Lake, the Camphitheatre is the perfect setting for campfires, cookouts and variety shows. Daily morning polar bear dips ensure that there will always be something to talk about at breakfast. The adventure continues with canoes, kayaks, rope courses, rock wall and archery. Truly impressive is the degree to which Camp Ooch has been made to be wheelchair accessible. The Med Shed, staffed at all times by a doctor and three nurses trained in oncology, can provide both chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

An integral part of this year’s celebration was the highly anticipated ribbon cutting ceremony for Barny the Barn, an indoor activities site. Belief in the dream that is Camp Oochigeas has helped the Donor Campaign raise the funds needed for expansion. Affiliated with The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto since 1993, Camp Ooch has grown to meet the needs of its kids. Rather than turn a child away, supporters of Ooch choose to expand to make room for all children. This year, all children diagnosed with cancer at Sick Kids have been reached by the camp.

With the day’s festivities coming to a close, the flagpole located at the centre of camp awaits another day when it will be encircled by campers. Not only is it the meeting place before every meal but, it also stands beside the podium on which campers, chosen by their peers for special awards are celebrated with loud chants of “On the stump! On the Stump!” for a job well done.

On the stump, Camp Ooch. You deserve it.

Namita Joshi is an International Medical Graduate living in Toronto. She would like to thank Carly Ely and Rob Drynan for their insight into the dream that is Ooch.