Summer Camping

By Erica

Every morning on the way to my office, I encounter campers from two summer day camps held at the Y:  Camp Binyamin and Camp Friendly Faces.  These summer camps reflect the importance the Y holds in hosting and providing fun summer experiences for children in Montreal.  Throughout the history of the YM-YWHA, several summer camps have existed for the benefit this “summer fun” for children.  The Y Urban Camp was the first of such camps.  In a report of the Urban Camp in 1940, the Head Counsellor Zangwill Godlovitch summarized what the Urban Camp was.

“Urban Camp is generally classified as a home camp.  To our mind, the fact that Urban Camp performs the function of keeping the underprivileged youngsters off the streets and occupied through an organized program in Arts & Crafts, athletics, drama and music is purely incidental.  Basicly [sic] however, in line with Y.M.H.A. objectives, it offers us the opportunity of educating our youngsters in the habit of success in social cooperation and in the creation of desirable attitudes, which is the most important stage of learning.”

He continues saying that,

“Our youngsters displayed willingness to understand and cooperate with several refugees from England, Germany and Eastern Europe.  These refugees, I understand were extremely delighted and interested in ‘Y’ affairs and got on very well with our youngsters.”

Zangwill’s report demonstrates the importance of summer camps at the Y.  The Urban Camp provided a safe and fun place for children in the summer, as well as being a place of integration and acceptance for refugees.  Several summer camps have now gone through the Y’s doors, including Wooden Acres, Snowdon Day Camp and now Friendly Faces.  Going through reports and photographs of the many summer camps is both interesting and funny – and to see how some camp activities like arts & crafts remain the same today.  Looking at the photographs and looking outside my door show me that the Y is a great place for children to play, make friends from different cultural backgrounds and enjoy the outdoors.  With that, I wish the Y campers a fun last few weeks and camp – and to keep coming back for years to come.

Leave a Comment