Camp Couchiching is a veteran camp in Ontario and is proud of it’s evolution over the decades. Our Camp property has been used as a youth based camp since the early 1900's. Both Camp PineCrest and the Taylor Statten Camps have been connected back to Camp Couchiching's early history. Our current camp was officially established in 1946 after renting the space from Geneva Park for 15 years groups of individuals from the Anglican Young Peoples Association. In those days, groups slept in tents and the Camp was known as 'White House', named for the old farmhouse, which stood on the site of our current Towne Hall.
Through the Depression and War Years, 'White House' struggled on, successful each summer in providing camp experiences for young people. In 1945, with a continued interest in camping Rev. Fred Nicholson and Mr. W.R. Worthington (read the plaque on the flagpole...placed in his honor), our present site was purchased from the YMCA. Construction of the dining hall and cabins was completed in 1946 and Camp as we know it began. The cost of the land and new buildings was about $20,000.
Today, the Camp continues its strong commitment to provide a fun learning experience for young people with a special emphasis on integration and traditional camping values. For many years, Cooch operated separate boys and girls programs at different times during the Summer, however during the late 1960s, we dared to be different, becoming co-ed.
Interested in the fundamental values of camping for every child, in the early 70's, Cooch began to operate a special month long camping program for children with Cystic Fibrosis, carving a reputation as a place for all. The new initiative that began at Cooch was also the first Camp program of its kind in the world creating a spot for us in history. The program, titled, Ontario Cystic Fibrosis Camp, ran for twenty successful years, however was cancelled in 1994. The medical community of children and adults with CF should not be brought together due to a life shortening bacteria that they could pass to one another. Thus came the end of two decades of our history, however found within is some of our most memorable successes, and many of our most loyal alumni members.
Following the loss of the Ontario Cystic Fibrosis Camp in 1994, two groups with special medical needs became a part of the Cooch family. Camp Jumoke (for children with sickle cell anemia) and Spike & Wave Club/SummerFest (for children with Epilepsy). These programs were initiated due to the belief that all kids benefit from camping experiences. At the time, integration of this kind was very rare. Cooch continues to strive towards encouraging integration and we continue to partner with Epilepsy Ontario to this day. It is strongly felt that our integrated environment is what develops our campers into confident, compassionate and exceptional individuals.
Over the years, Cooch has been used a rental facility for a variety of groups and proudly boasts of a Outdoor Education Centre with a remarkable reputation for "Excellence in Camping" (the very start of our Mission Statement). In 2016, we anticipate welcoming close to 700 summer campers, and over 5000 Outdoor Centre visitors through our gates.
We think Cooch continues to evolve into one of the finest children's Camps in Canada. As an independent non for profit charitable organization, each years success brings waves of improvements and new additions to camp. A camp that strives to be the best, at the end of each summer Cooch leaves a very high standard in its wake.
Over 100,000 people have participated in the Camp programs at Cooch in the long and proud history of our Camp. Today, Cooch continues to offer a traditional camping programs as well as a variety of programs targeted towards Leadership Development. Our campers enjoy now over 24 activities at Camp both in and out of the Lake. With specialized Land, Water and Arts programs, Cooch offers a selection of activities for all kids.
When our alumni are asked what was so special about Cooch, answers come back such as “the close friendships we had”; “the staff really had a genuine interest in me”; “the feeling that I was a important part of the community”; and often, “It’s the best”. This is what makes Cooch so special: the fun, the friendships, the community and the drive for nothing less then Excellence. Inside the gates of Camp Couchiching, everyone will find a community that is welcoming, happy, and engaging for all. As it states in our Welcome Song…“Couchiching is the place for fun and happy days”.