This award was created by the OCA Board to recognize the contribution of Dorothy Walter to the growth and development of the Association. It is the most prestigious recognition offered by OCA. Dorothy died in December of 2006; however, her legacy of leadership lives on in the form of the good work done and fine examples set by the past and future recipients of this high recognition.
The award is presented, not necessarily annually, for providing outstanding service over a period of time. This outstanding service must include and is not limited to:
The Dorothy Walter Award was created to recognize Dorothy’s contributions to the growth and development of the association, and we are honoured to recognize Tracy’s contributions through this prestigious award. Tracy has continually contributed to the growth and development of the OCA, and in doing so, has focussed her attention on supporting the development of each member of the OCA she impacts in the process.
As an experienced and accomplished leader in the camping industry, Tracy has championed accessibility throughout her current role as Executive Director with Camp Awakening since 2009 – as well as her role in funds development for Fife House Foundation and Campfire Circle (formerly Camp Oochigeas in the 2000’s. Within the OCA community, Tracy has serves as co-chair of the Camp Accessibility, Resource & Support Committee (CARS) for an incredible 13 years – while also serving successive terms as a Director on the OCA Board for and as Vice President of the Society of Camp Directors during those years. She has indeed been a shining example of commitment to the camping movement, and to the OCA.
Throughout this time, Tracy has provided ongoing consultation support to the OCA related to questions around AODA, Human Rights, Insurance concerns and other issues raised by staff members, campers or families related to their special needs. She has stepped up many times to assist with volunteer support to the CARS committee, and continues to be dedicated to ensuring the committee’s succession in 2023.
She took the lead in designing and implementing OCA Campfire of Inclusion Training Events since the early 2000’s, and her keen ability to help organize and ensure that all elements of the OCA’s first virtual (Campfire of Inclusion) conference in 2020 was a huge success. During the pandemic, Tracy led the CARS core group to help plan and promote the bi-weekly CARS meetings. She led the CARS Core group which met regularly to discuss updates to OCA membership survey as it relates to accessibility of programs, ensuring representation in OCA workshops/conferences and so much more!
Tracy was integral to the team who applied for and received a significant Trillium Grant (2017-2018) to support AODA education throughout the OCA membership. Tracy was a constant source of expertise and inspiration to Annual Conference committees, Health Care and Staff Summit events over the years, to help source content and speakers to provide the most benefit to members attending educational events. Tracy and the CARS committee were often consulted to help find relevant sessions with regards to special needs/inclusion. She shared her expertise willingly and generously for the benefit of all – including co-authoring an article in 2017 for the Toronto Abilities Expo on “why everyone should go to summer camp” – sharing resources and support for the value of camp for children of all abilities.
Tracy’s people skills are always evident in promoting networking between OCA members and resources/user groups outside of the OCA CARS committee. She always keeps the OCA on track focusing on what the Association and CARS committee can do to support our membership and resources/networking related to special needs and inclusion. Tracy is the “AODA guru” of the CARS committee and outside this committee to any camp who needs assistance. Her dedication and commitment have resulted in her having received the OCA volunteer recognition award numerous times over the years (the most recent in 2022).
The impact of the pandemic has been tough on so many within our industry but those who support campers/staff and their accessibility at camps were amongst the only group in camping who were not able to open their specialized camps for the first 2 seasons of the pandemic. Tracy’s invaluable support, guidance and leadership to the OCA and the CARS committee and all of those that joined in the biweekly, sometimes weekly meetings, certainly benefitted greatly from her involvement.
Tracy has been and continues to be a constant advocate for those with special needs getting the same access in camping as everyone. No matter the focus of any camp, Tracy has and continues to provide support, offer advice and be willing to chat with any director who needs support.
Tracy continues to be a constant pilar of support within the camping community and a wealth of knowledge, willingly shared, with those who need it. Her selfless contributions, passion, depth of knowledge and empathy for all is a true example to all of us. Thank you, Tracy, for your dedication to the OCA and to children and families – you are leaving a lasting legacy, and we are thrilled to be presenting you with this year’s Dorothy Walter Award on behalf of the OCA.
The Ontario Camps Association is honoured to present the names of camp leaders, who over many years, have trail blazed, built bridges and set precedents, which have assisted others in the Ontario camping industry. Honorary Life Award (HLM) Nominees hold a place of special significance in the traditions and successes of our Association. New paths and bridges created and implemented by current camp professionals rest upon the solid foundations laid by these courageous pioneers. Honorary Life Members in our Association are a permanent part of our camp lives.
Howie joined the Camp Robin Hood family 35 years ago and has been positively impacting campers and staff ever since. Howie was introduced to the camping world when he met his wife Sari in high school and (bravely) asked her father, Larry Bell, for a summer job. Today, Howie is the co-owner/director of Camp Robin Hood and is the co-owner of Camp Walden and Camp Madawaska.
Early in his career, Howie recognized the value of volunteerism in the Ontario Camps Association when he attended his first counsellor conference at Centennial College in 1987. Since then, he has made a tremendous contribution to the camping industry. In his younger days, Howie first contributed to the OCA as a Standards Visitor and sat on the program committee for KUMBAYAH in 1994. Over the years, Howie has taken on many roles within the OCA Board. He sat as the Kindred Representative for Day Camps within the OCA, and was elected as OCA Vice President for two terms and later sat as OCA President. His dedication to projects within the OCA has allowed for meaningful and impactful change for all camps. More specifically, Howie has contributed his leadership and expertise to lobbying against federal canoe licensing regulations, taken a lead-role on OCA by-law revisions, involvement in Early Years legislation for day camps as well as contributing to the work of the COVID-19 Task Force.
Howie is camp’s main face of FUN at Camp Robin Hood, and many will recognize him from his hosting duties at OCA events and as co-host on the Camp Owners Podcast – truth be told, he’s never met a microphone he doesn’t like. While he shines in the limelight, it’s Howie’s leadership and the personal connections he fosters with campers, staff, families and other professionals that make him the inspiring leader he is today. His leadership in developing high-value staff training and development programs at camp have profoundly impacted staff in their personal and professional lives.
Howie’s experiences not only in the camping world, but also as a former high school teacher, department head and volleyball coach, have contributed to his passion and dedication in supporting, mentoring and empowering the next generation of camp leaders – be it at his own camps or beyond. Howie has always used his educational experiences to take Camp Robin Hood to the next level, recognizing the value of traditions and also appreciating the role of innovation at camp. His passion, dedication, enthusiasm and joy for what he does is contagious and has inspired so many!
Sari has quite literally grown up at camp and has dedicated her entire life to camping. Sari’s parents, Larry & Pearl Bell, OCA legends in their own right, fostered a love for OCA volunteering very early in Sari’s career. An over 30-year career as a camp professional, has allowed Sari to use her formal training as an Occupational Therapist (OT) to provide leadership and passion at the 3 camps that she now operates; Camp Robin Hood, Camp Walden and Camp Madawaska.
If you’ve worked with Sari, you know the profound impact she has had on campers and staff with additional needs, and her influence on all members of the camp community. Combining her love for camp and her expertise as an OT, Sari has developed the inclusion program at Camp Robin Hood. Her commitment to inclusion, customer service and accessibility over the years has afforded campers and staff of all abilities to experience success at camp and beyond. Through Sari’s innovation and leadership, she has also provided excellent learning experiences for student occupational therapists, parents and organizations. In fact, Sari has inspired and mentored countless campers, staff and students, who attribute their career choices to the opportunities Sari has provided at camp.
Throughout her career, Sari has made significant contributions through her volunteer work on various boards and committees, specifically within the Ontario Camps Association. Over the years, Sari has sat on the Board of Directors of the OCA. She has also taken on leadership as the Chair of the OCA COVID-19 Task Force, Chair of the Special Needs Resource Committee, and she has also co-chaired previous OCA Conferences, including the Annual Counsellor and Director Conferences. Sari is also on the Board of Directors for Camp Awakening and has supported the York Region Special Needs Committee.
Sari has always been committed to supporting the camping industry. She has assisted camps and other programs become more accessible through program development, training, access to funding, customer service and more. She is a mentor and the go-to resource for so many camp colleagues and is always happy to share her expertise and knowledge. Sari has presented in Canada and internationally at camping and school/university conferences on a variety of topics.
While she willingly provides her husband, Howie, the opportunity to be on the stage, entertaining campers and staff on a daily basis, there is no mistaking that it’s Sari who is the backbone of the operation of camp. Her care and concern for campers, staff and families, and for so many in the OCA community makes her a most worthy addition to this honoured group.
The OCA has always prided itself on recognizing individuals who have blazed trails, led new initiatives and volunteered their time and expertise. Many of our OCA volunteers and pioneers have been recognized due to their hard work and commitment to the organization. The Awards Committee is excited to recognize Individuals, Preferred Vendors and accredited camps that have reached a “Milestone Year” in the industry (i.e. 25 years, 30 years etc…).
Camp Pathfinder – 110 Years
Rideau Hill Camp – 75 Years
Olympia Sports Camp – 50 Years
Dave Grace – 50 Years Directing at Olympia Sports Camp
Seth Cole – 40 Years at Camp Walden
Simon Diebel – 10 Years Directing at Camp Manitou Bay of Islands
Frederic Diebel – 5 Years Directing at Camp Manitou Bay of Islands