Eagle Lake efforts ensures camp presence
By Darren Lum
Aug. 30, 2016
It’s all about the children.
Eagle Lake residents Peter McLuskey and his wife Nancy see the value in efforts to ensure their community continues being the host for the touring Monarch Bible Camp.
This camp is open to children between six and 12 years old, Christian and non-Christian and ,offers a variety of activities from swimming, kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddling to crafts, games, biking, trampoline and archery. Participants choose three activities each day and rotate through them.
Included in the day’s activities is a 30-minute chapel session. There were close to 300 children in the camp that travelled to seven locations (Bobcaygeon, Minden, Coboconk, Haliburton, Fenelon Falls and Eagle Lake) in City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County this summer, starting from the end of June and ending at the end of August with Eagle Lake. It included a resident camp in Ennismore on Pigeon Lake just outside Peterborough, which is open to children from eight- to 15-years-old.
Although the McLuskeys have put in countless hours and hosted the camp in their backyard for close to 10 years, Peter said they don’t do it alone. The co-operation of the whole community is necessary for it to work. For example, the Eagle Lake store provides snacks and fundraises for children who wouldn’t otherwise go; families host the 12 counsellors for the week; and the Eagle Lake Community Church provides a venue for the staff dinners and games and activities when there is inclement weather.
“All of these little bits and pieces are necessary to make it a good experience,” he said.
McLuskey, who has lived at his Eagle Lake Road location since 2004, said the transformation of the children is amazing from when they first start the camp to nearing the end of the week.
“They’re more outgoing. They’re laughing more. Some of them when they come on Monday are clinging to their parent’s hand, saying ‘don’t leave me, don’t leave me.’ Then when it gets to Friday the kids do a little presentation, a sing-song type of thing for the parents to show what they’ve done.
That’s when you’ve seen they’ve opened up and blossomed and really benefited.”
Camp director for the past 17 years, Teresa Ward said Eagle Lake is an amazing community that has always supported the camp.
She said the community and the church make their stay possible, providing food and accommodation, sometimes financial or spiritual support to staff.
“We couldn’t do it unless we had those people helping us. It would be impossible. They’re the behind-the-scenes people. Nobody really sees them, but they’re the foundation. Without them, we couldn’t do it,” she said.
At $100 per participant, Ward said, the camp gives children a day camp experience at an affordable price.
Not only does Eagle Lake help with logistics for the camp, but it also finds campers to participate in the week-long offering. People in the community help fund children who would otherwise not afford the registration fee.
The popularity of the Eagle Lake location has grown from a dozen to close to 30 campers.
Ward said the small ratio of campers to staff provides an atmosphere that lets camp staff get to know campers well.
McLuskey said the community he loves is in a state of transition. He points up the road and said there are many aging residents leaving or who have died. The camp gives young families an option for their children in the summer.
“[Eagle Lake] is missing a lot of things that are in other communities. I think people in the community try to make things better,” he said.
He recognizes some people use it as a babysitting service, but that’s fine.
“If it helps them then it’s good. It means they can do their job and be happy, knowing their children are safe,” he said.
At 71, he doesn’t know how much longer he will stay in the area and challenges young people in the entire county to take over from people like him to make things happen.
“There have been some magnificent things done over the years [but] people are tired. We need young people to come along and get involved,” he said.