In August, 108 Cadets, 36 counselors, and 16 support staff spent a week immersed in nature at Algonquin Park’s Whitefish Lake for the All-Ontario Cadet Camporee. These Ontario Cadets are members of the Calvinist Cadet Corps, a boys’ ministry founded in 1952 with over 600 clubs in North America. From learning more about being a child of God to learning how to survive among bears, the week was filled with activities from sunrise to sunset.
Upon arrival, the Cadets were divided into color cadres and set up shelters. Throughout the week they learned to kayak and canoe, built and raced Styrofoam boats, and made survival bracelets complete with whistle, flint, cord, and a small knife. They also learned about the park and its history at the logging museum and visitor center and about bears and wolves from park staff.
One of the week’s memorable moments for counselor Peter Vandersar of Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in Woodstock was the Friday night skit night. “For me, the camporee is the highlight of Cadeting. It’s amazing to see the cadres working together, from strangers at the beginning of the week to the strong bonds that form,” said Vandersar.
As part of the week, the Cadets worked on a service project. They made repairs to the Beaver Pond Trail, a project started in 2008 at the International Camporee. That camporee was evacuated because of flooding and heavy rain; since then, the All-Ontario Cadet Camporees of 2009 and 2016 have returned to the Beaver Pond Trail to complete this service commitment.
Camp Director Henry Fohkens of Westmount CRC in Strathroy, Ont., said Algonquin is a place close to his heart. But the highlight of the week was the spiritual development and witnessing among the boys and staff. “It’s as much for the leaders as the boys, and they were really encouraged as Christians,” Fohkens said.
This year’s camporee also had a mentoring focus, to encourage and train future counselors in the leadership of future camporees. The Calvinist Cadet Corps host committee is also busy planning for the 2017 International Camporee to be held in the Black Hills of South Dakota.