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Many Ontarians celebrate the end of May long weekend with the first camping or cottage trip of the season. This year elementary school principal Ralph Pot, a member of Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, pitched his tent on the roof of Beacon Christian School. The event fulfilled a fundraising challenge he’d given his students during the annual MS Read-A-Thon, a nation-wide effort to raise money in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

“The students were very excited to see me walk into school today with a tent,” Pot said.

Pot has issued a friendly motivator, such as donning a clown costume for a day and taking the whole school on a skating trip, every year. But this year’s challenge proved the most successful. Previously students have raised approximately $2,200 each year; Pot’s 2014 challenge was to have every student in Grades 1-8 participate and to raise $3,000. In the end, Pot said, “The results were near perfect participation and more than $4,000 raised.”

In March, just following the completion of the Read-a-Thon, Pot communicated to the school community that he’d be fulfilling his promise in May. He also opened the exclusive “campground” to other tenters. “If there are any dads out there who would like to join the campout, sites will be available for only $25,” Pot wrote in the weekly school newsletter. “All proceeds from the campout will go towards the Beacon Bursary Program.”

Though Pot said he heard “my dad is going to camp out with you,” from many students, in the end only Darrel Boer, father of a first-grade and a senior kindergarten student, joined him for the windy campout. “It was a little chilly, but I slept well,” Pot said.

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