Toronto Star

Where friendship­s, faith grow strong

Christian camp for all ages teaches the importance of putting others first


PORT SYDNEY, ONT.— For years, Brooklyn has been coming to Mini-Yo-We as an overnight camper.

But when her 6-year-old cousin, Dani, asked if she would keep her company in the day-camp program, Brooklyn didn’t think twice.

“My little cousin was scared to come alone, so I’m here for her,” says the 11-year-old, who wanted to make it easy for Dani to be at camp and love it as much as she does.

“I started coming to camp when I was 4,” she says, sitting on the dock that stretches out into Mary Lake. “I’ve had a lot of great experience­s here and it’s been fun getting to know new people from new cultures.”

A Christian camp, Mini-Yo-We is where kids of all ages strengthen their faith and at the same time connect with nature. Brooklyn likes the Bible stories as much as swimming, playing games and doing arts and crafts. Other activities include sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and high-ropes lessons, as well as campfires and out-trips to wilds beyond camp.

In other words, there’s never a dull moment at Mini-Yo-We.

Beyond the fun things to do, Brooklyn is wild about the friendship­s she has made here over the years. They’ve made camp memorable and that’s why she returns year after year, as do so many campers and staff.

There’s Julia, Sally, Lily and Leal who are always there for her. “They’ve helped me through rough times,” says Brooklyn.

When she was missing her family at overnight camp, her pals made sure she wasn’t alone and cheered her up by rallying around her.

“Sometimes, I was homesick or felt embarrasse­d because of something I had done and my friends helped me.”

Camp has a way of bringing out the best in everyone. “I feel protected here and always have so much fun.”

Her counsellor­s are like big sisters and Brooklyn looks up to them. “The other day, I stubbed my toe and my counsellor made it better,” she says, pointing to the appendage that appears to have healed well.

Her counsellor­s have been such good role models that Brooklyn can’t wait to be one herself, “when I’m older, of course.”

It seems she’s already leading by example, by the mere fact that Brooklyn put her cousin’s needs before her own this summer. Putting others first are words to live by at Mini-Yo-We; it’s a lesson campers take home with them, as are the life skills learned, such as protecting the environmen­t through stewardshi­p.

“It would be a privilege to be a counsellor because I would learn more about my campers and how to make sure they’re having fun at camp,” says Brooklyn, adding there’s no place she’d rather be than MiniYo-We.

She’s confident all kids would be happy there.

“You won’t worry about anything here,” Brooklyn says. “You’ll make good friends that you’ll have forever. Everything and everyone is beautiful, because Mini-Yo-We is a home and heart place.” If you have benefited from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email

 ?? LESLIE FERENC/TORONTO STAR ?? Playing on the beach at Camp Mini-Yo-We is a favourite pastime of Brooklyn, 11, left, and her friend Abbey, 8.
LESLIE FERENC/TORONTO STAR Playing on the beach at Camp Mini-Yo-We is a favourite pastime of Brooklyn, 11, left, and her friend Abbey, 8.

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