Slideshow image

On April 21, just as the weather was warming up (but not for long, we sadly learned later) a breath of summer blew into the Friday night Hearts and Minds event featuring Sharon Millar, Canterbury Hills Camp Director.

She began by describing how the Day Camp experience at Canterbury as a young child grew into her love of overnight camping and then blossomed into leadership experiences as she entered her later teen years. She was a member of the Resource Team for five years sharing her enthusiasm and skills. Her passion for camping stems from her love of the outdoorbut even after she did concurrent education at Laurier, when she began her teaching career and was adjusting to life in the classroom, she knew she had to change directions.

So, after a couple of years at an established camp in the Niagara region, she became the Camp Director and successfully ran camping programs, even weathering the years of COVID! In the fall of 2021, Sharon became the Camp Director of the Anglican Diocesan camp located in the beautiful Carolinian forests adjacent to the Hamilton Conservation Authority lands in Ancaster.

She described the unique quality of Canterbury’s camping programs by focusing on three principles: it is child-centred, decentralized and unit-based camping so the campers determine, to a large extent, the shape of each day.

This summer the Day Campj spaces have filled with some exceptions. Out of concern for children of all backgrounds to experience camping, Canterbury deliberately saves spots for financially assisted campers sponsored by local charities like St. Matthew’s House and the Children’s Aid Society. Two other popular camps are Adventure Camp where a wilderness out-packing experience attracts 12–15 year-olds, and Bridge Camp where children try out overnight camp for two nights after they’ve spent two days of a day camp schedule. While Bridge Camp is Sharon’s own innovation to camping programs at Canterbury, both of these camps have been so popular that more spaces are being offered this year than previously. The Leaders-in-Training (LIT) program continues to attract new and experienced teens seeking to develop leadership skills while the Overnight program and Day Camp provide ongoing popularity. This year promises to be a great year, especially with our need to expand the number of Day Camp spots available.

Sharon explained that faith-based experiences still happen at Canterbury. She said that part of the attraction of Canterbury is its affiliation with the Anglican Church. Each day features cabin based and camp wide time for spiritual training and development, culminating in a Eucharist on the last day of each camp. Local clergy lead worship which integrates camper participation and leadership. In such a beautiful setting, we can understand why children love learning and living in community in God’s creation. Furthermore, they understand from an elemental level, why they need to work to protect it.

When asked what we can do to help Canterbury Hills Camp, she thanked us for such an opportunity to share and inform us of what Camp offers.  She also added that work weekends (one in early June) and donating craft supplies, contributing to camper bursaries or any financial support would help. And finally, she encouraged us to spread the word that a taste of heaven is just next door, in Ancaster!