Do you have to have a United Church background to attend Golden Lake Camp?
Not at all. In fact, only about a quarter of the children and youth who attend have a United Church background. Many others, in fact, are Roman Catholic, and almost every Christian denomination is represented in some way. Many children who attend have no religious background at all. Every child is welcome, the Christian content in our programs is non-denominational, all viewpoints are respected, and no child is ever made to feel out-of-place because of their personal faith background or lack of it.
Where did Golden Lake Camp come from, anyway?
The present-day Golden Lake Camp was built by a small Christian denomination called the Evangelical United Brethren in 1961. That denomination joined the United Church of Canada in 1968, and Golden Lake has been a United Church camp ever since. It does have its own elected Board of Directors (which any interested person might be elected to), and most of its operations and its particular focus are managed by that Board.
No, we don’t, for a very simple reason: we are in a very rural location, and there would not be enough children within easy commuting distance to make a full day-camp program possible.
Campers are normally in cabins of 8 or (occasionally) 10 campers, with two counsellors. Sometimes a counsellor-in-training (an older, specialized camper who is learning to be a counsellor) will be in a cabin as well. This makes the hands-on counsellor-to-camper ratio about one-to-four. However, there are many program leaders (directors, program people, lifeguards, etc.) on site who work directly with the campers as well. If you count them into the ratio, it is better than one-to-three.
For almost all our camps, children are asked to arrive on the Sunday of the week of camp between 2 and 4 pm, and to leave the following Saturday morning between 10 and 11 am. The only exceptions are Youth Outdoor Skills Camp and Scamper Camp: Scamper Camp begins on the Sunday but ends two days later on Tuesday of the same week, between 7 and 8 pm, while Youth Outdoor Skills Camp begins on the Sunday but ends on Tuesday of the following week, between 7 and 8 pm.
A good question (that non-campers could never imagine the answer to!) Most camps, including Golden Lake, have a once-a-day arrangement where campers can buy treats through a little on-site store. For some unknown reason, many camps for many years have called that store the Tuck Shop. Golden Lake usually allows campers to receive two Tuck Shop items per day. The cost of Tuck Shop is included in the registration fee.
All camps at Golden Lake are co-ed. Certain cabins (or tents) are designated boys cabins and girls cabins, and clear guidelines ensure appropriate privacy. Leaders at all levels are also both males and females, to ensure the best possible leadership for both genders.
See elsewhere on this website for a more detailed description. Generally, we offer the same sorts of indoor and outdoor activities as most summer camps: games, canoeing, swimming, hiking, campfires, etc. Campers are kept fairly busy most of the time, doing things they enjoy doing, and boredom is seldom, if ever, a problem.
Golden Lake is (and has always been) a Christian camp. That means that we seek to base everything we do on the love and grace and forgiveness of Jesus, and to follow him in all we do. It also means that we do such things as say (or sing!) a grace before meals, sing contemporary Christian songs, pray at the beginning and the end of the day, and spend about forty-five minutes a day in a Discovery Group or a discussion group that focuses on stories from the Bible and ways that God can make a difference in our lives. Much effort is put into making these times both interesting and relevant. Campers who have not experienced such things in the past are never made to feel uncomfortable, and the vast majority are more than enthusiastic about this part of the program.
In our regular camp program, campers live in little cabins on our main site, and engage in ordinary summer camp activities; in Outdoor Adventure Camp they are in family-sized tents on our off-site, and all of their games and activities are geared to the out-of-doors (even eating in a large lean-to tent). Except for the outdoor focus of OAC, the two programs are similar. UNFORTUNATELY, NO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE CAMP PROGRAMS ARE BEING OFFERED IN 2023.
Six of our cabins have eight children in each; our two newest cabins have ten (see What is the ratio of campers to counsellors, above).
We offer a full refund, minus a $50 processing fee, at any point up to two weeks before the week of camp a child is registered to attend. In the case of a confirmed medical or family emergency, or a reported problem with head lice, the same refund is available right up to the morning of registration day. Once a child has arrived to register, no refunds are available.
All parents of campers must check regularly for head lice for two weeks before camp begins, including on the morning of registration. Full refunds (minus a $50 registration fee) are available for parents who report this problem to us before leaving home. If, in spite of all this, campers do arrive with head lice, we may possibly be able to deal with the problem, but we can’t promise to do so. If we cannot deal with the problem, the camper must return home, and be rebooked either later in the summer (at no extra cost) or for a week the following summer (at no extra cost).
Probably 20% of children feel a little bit homesick the first night, but most are fine by the next morning. If a child seems homesick more long-term, we work with him/her for twenty-four hours or so to see if he/she will recover (most do). If it becomes clear to us that the problem is not going away, we call the parent without the child present to ask for advice, and are guided by the parents’ wishes. A parent talking with the child on the phone makes the child feel better but does not normally solve the problem, because the child will only talk about going home. If it becomes clear that a child really does need to go home, we will then help as much as we are able with those arrangements. Often, children become homesick because the possibility has been suggested to them. When parents don’t even mention the possibility before the child comes to camp, the child is usually fine.
We ask that you don’t phone to talk with the child directly (unless there is a family emergency) because that almost always leads to homesickness (although, of course, the opposite is intended). We do welcome phone calls or emails of inquiry: a counsellor or staff person who knows about your child is always happy to report how things are going. We prefer that parents don’t drop by to visit for the same reasons; if you do feel you need to visit, please call ahead so we can minimize disruption to our program when you arrive.
It varies a bit from camp to camp, but normally 9:45.
Letters can be sent to your child, in care of Golden Lake Camp, 63 McNee Drive, Golden Lake, ON K0J 1X0. However, because of the length of time the post office takes to deliver letters, letters should either be sent before the child leaves home, or by XpressPost (two-day delivery). E-mails may be sent at any time and are normally delivered to your child the same day. You will receive the special campers e-mail address in the confirmation materials sent to you after your child is registered.
We do not allow electronic technology of any sort at Golden Lake Camp (they have their technology at home the other 51 weeks of the year!) Cell phones can also result in privacy issues and possible liability issues. Also, cell phones and other electronic technology can be quite valuable, and Golden Lake Camp cannot be responsible for lost, stolen or broken items. We believe that the program is fun and exciting enough that campers won’t miss their technology!