Camp Couchiching is one of few veteran camps in Ontario and is proud of it’s evolution over the decades. Although officially established in 1946, Camp Couchiching had its beginning during the 1930's when a group of individuals from the Anglican Young Peoples Association rented what would soon be our home from the neighboring Family Campground, Geneva Park. 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 of the Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada (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 Couchiching was born. The cost of the land and new buildings was about $20,000.
Initially established as a camp for Anglican Families, Cooch has evolved over the decades, moving from what was initially a religiously focused program into one that specialized in the integration of special needs, inclusion and all beliefs and interests. In the early seventies, 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 when it was decided by the medical community that children and adults with CF should not be brought together. 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.
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.
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 Summer Fest (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. Although today Camp Jumoke is no longer with us, Cooch continues to strive towards encouraging integration. 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 as a rental facility for a variety of groups and proudly boasts of an Outdoor Education Centre with a remarkable reputation for Excellence in Camping. In 2009, we anticipate welcoming close to 700 summer campers, and over 5000 Outdoor Centre visitors through our gates.
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”