Chilawee Trails taught me how to be close to my family even when I was far away.
My family never went on vacations. Instead, every summer, each sibling got to go to either the boys camp near Port Burwell or the girls camp near Barry’s Bay and that was our own special little vacation.
After an entire week away, each child was welcomed home and got to tell the whole family everything about our week. Through this, my parents taught each child the important lesson that there is great fun to be had and many friends to be made in the great wide world but that we could always return home. In fact, it is precisely because we had a loving family that made us strong enough to go out into the world and benefit from it so greatly. And we could bring back what we learned and experienced to share at home. It was a perfect cycle of growing more independent and yet feeling close to my family.
This is a lesson I learned starting out small, at nine years old, on my way to Chilawee Trails. And it has stuck with me to the end of my undergraduate years in Toronto, away from my family. Sometimes I miss my family. But I’ve learned from travelling to Chilawee and back every summer that my parents, my siblings, and I are all doing our own things — and whenever we can we try to reunite to share about it.
One thing I want to highlight about Chilawee, to parents in particular, is that it is a safe and fun place for your daughter to spend one week straight. If they like it as I loved it, they will want to come back. When they keep coming back, they learn how to take small steps in becoming their own person and expanding a little farther out from their family and hometown. Camp doesn’t last forever (sadly), so your daughter will come back to you, after courageously staying a week at an overnight camp and having made at least one (if not lots) of good friends. Chilawee hasn’t only turned me into a “camp person”, it has transformed my whole family into a “camp family”.