Although there were very few children’s camps in the 1930s, a small group of camp visionaries took it upon themselves to meet regularly to discuss issues of common concern, such as the importance of offering a well-balanced program, providing a good diet, properly maintaining facilities and equipment, developing an appreciation for our environment and building character. At the time, the forefathers of Ontario’s camp movement operated privately owned camps. But because their backgrounds included time spent at the YMCA, YWCA and Canadian Girls In Training (CGIT), they were quick to also include agencies and churches that operated camps. As this group of camp professionals grew so did their vision, and, as such, in 1933 the Ontario Camping Association (OCA) was formed.
With the post-war baby boom, the number of camps in Ontario multiplied rapidly and the OCA grew accordingly. For thousands of children, camp became an integral part of growing up. Besides traditional programming, camps began to specialize in different areas such as extended canoe trips, specific activity focusses, and programs that catered to different special needs.
Over the past 80+ years, the diversity amongst OCA Members has expanded, and each of its more than 400 camps is extremely unique in its own right. In fact, the huge diversity that exists amongst OCA member camps is one of the association’s strengths. Our camps are large and small, co-ed or single gender, located in remote settings or downtown buildings, use rustic or modern facilities, offer specialized or general programs, and serve a broad spectrum of special needs.
With more than 600 Members (approximately 400 Accredited Camps and 200 Individual Members, Affiliates and Preferred Vendors), the OCA is much larger than our founders ever imagined. However, we have not lost sight of our primary goal: to enable children to learn new skills, make new friends and have fun in a safe, healthy and caring environment.
We are moving towards our centenary with both the anticipation and purpose of continuing to provide children and parents with a variety of quality summer camps.
For more information on the history of the OCA please visit our archives at: Trent University Archives