Celebrating OCA’s 90th Anniversary

In 2023, the Ontario Camps Association celebrated our 90th year!

The theme of our celebration was 90 Years of Strength and Resilience, highlighted through a series of video vignettes – OCA Minutes and displays that took place at our OCA [Re]Connects 2023 Conference.

OCA’s 90 Years of Strength and Resilience

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic presented some extraordinary challenges to society in general, and in particular to the camping industry. This was not the first time the camp industry in Ontario was challenged by external factors, such as the Second World, smallpox, and polio pandemics.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our industry forever. From social distancing to lockdowns, testing and constantly changing guidances, the camp industry was impacted in every way. OCA and the global camping community have demonstrated once more the strength and resilience of our industry and the professionals who dedicate their lives to ensuring the delivery of safer camping experiences for campers and staff alike.

At the 2023 OCA [Re]Connects Conference, we reflected on the resolve of OCA leaders through its 90 years to meet the challenges of the day. The Hub was a room at the conference designed to encourage OCA Members to explore, share, and connect with the OCA’s rich history and wealth of camp leadership experience.

The Hub included a showcase of OCA Archives, which are normally housed at the Bata Library of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. The displays and donated presentations reconnected and reminded us of the challenges and achievements of the OCA through the 1930’s and 1940’s, right to the present day. Learn more about OCA’s History here! A part of the Hub included the continued collection of OCA’s history, recollecting the recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the camp industry.

Thank you to all members of the OCA Archives Committee and volunteers in the OCA [Re]Connects 2023 Hub for your contributions in preserving and sharing OCA’s history!

OCA’s 90th Anniversary Moments Videos

Building upon the theme of OCA’s 90 Years of Strength and Resilience, OCA assembled a collection of short videos that identified the various societal challenges and issues of the day over the nine decades of OCA’s history. In each video, OCA demonstrates how we were able to respond and grow from each new challenge. View the OCA’s 90th Anniversary videos here.

90th Anniversary Gift

Membership in the OCA has been an amazing part of the lives of countless camp industry professionals. The impact of our community on professional development, networking and progression of the industry has lead to lifelong careers and lifelong friendships. Being able to share, to give, to receive is all part of the experience – and OCA Honorary Life Member Jane McCutcheon has embodied that in her 45+ year membership with the OCA!

Jane has been an Honourary Life Member (HLM) for almost 20 years and has fond memories dating back to her first OCA Conference in the 1970s. In celebration of OCA’s 90th Anniversary, Jane generously sponsored a gift – a beautiful mug – so that conference delegates and OCA Members would have a memento of this monumental milestone and the Strength and Resilience that brought us here.

Thank you, Jane, and thank you to all past and present OCA Members for making our Association what it is today!

90 Years of Strength and Resilience My first exposure to the world of OCA was the 1976 annual conference – I was 21 years old working fulltime at Camp Tawingo – the only thing I was told was “dress up for the banquet” and believe it or not - we wore long dresses and all of the men were in suits or tuxedos….what an experience!! My biggest recollection was “Wow – this world of camping is bigger than I thought!” Honorary Life Members were introduced to the delegates early in the conference, so I made a point of approaching many of them one on one, asking about their camps, about their history, about their experiences….and so began my lifelong love of HLMs and OCA history. Here I am, 47 years later – I have been an HLM for almost 20 years. My life’s work has been camping – and I have come to realize that through the OCA, I have been able to learn, to share, to give, to receive, to cherish the relationships that I have made with other camp professionals – that we are unique, in many ways…we share the love of camp…we want kids to go to camp…it doesn’t matter if it is my camp or your camp or their camp – we just want people to have the experience that, in my opinion, helps create good citizens. When Jeff asked if I would join the committee to celebrate the 90th anniversary of OCA, I was thrilled that he wanted to include members of “the old guard” and I am proud of the work the Committee has done – we hope you will enjoy and cherish the 90th anniversary celebrations which are almost upon us. And, in a way that allows me to “give back”, I approached Joy to see if I could help with a sponsorship of the 90th anniversary. Joy was, as always, quick to respond. Today, I am proud to announce that I am sponsoring the 90th anniversary gift for all 2023 OCA delegates, for all Board members, for all OCA staff and for all HLMs who are unable to attend the conference. Together, we celebrate 90 years of strength and resilience. I want to thank each of you for your volunteer time and energy. I encourage you to get to know the HLMs who are still alive and breathing on this planet – to get to know the history of our great organization, and to know that what we do truly makes a difference in the lives of so many. Bring this card to the Hub to receive your 90th Anniversary Gift, sponsored by OCA Honorary Life Member, Jane McCutcheon!

Looking out of a tent at two young people around a campfire.

Our History

Read about the history of the Ontario Camps Assocation.

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Join the OCA

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