Toronto Star


Friends are as plentiful as trees at an all-girls camp on Georgian Bay.


PENETANGUI­SHENE, ONT.— It’s Christmas in July at Marygrove and the girls are celebratin­g with their camp friends and their finger friends.

The latter are the characters the girls have painted on their fingers. Cora, 7, has named hers Izzy, and has painted her in vibrant colours. Kadence, 6, has created two — the first she dubbed Ariel, the second is yet to be named. They’re finger puppets and everyone has them.

Everyone also has camp friends at Marygrove. They’re as plentiful as the trees.

Cherie Naseiro has been coming to camp for years. “I’ve never really left Marygrove.” She was 9 when she first came, moving up the ladder as leader and counsellor in training. She’s been on staff for eight years.

She lives in Markham and attends Wilfrid Laurier University where she’s majoring in child and youth studies with a minor in psychology and criminolog­y. “Being at Mary- grove is about changing lives. I’d rather have input into the lives of young people than a big paycheque.”

For Athi, 12, Marygrove is her home away from home. This is her fifth summer at the camp on Georgian Bay for girls ages 5 to 13, which is owned and operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Toronto Central Council, which also has a boys camp, called Ozanam, located in York Region.

“Marygrove has everything I could ever want plus it’s an all-girls camp,” says Athi. “The best part of camp is making friends and powwow.”

That’s a challenge between cabins to determine which is the best at setting a good example. Her cabin — Crossed Arrows — even has a rap. Here’s a taste: “Oooh, all we eat is mac and cheese “Cheering our way down to the beach “And we lay out, way out “Don’t stand in canoes, so we sit down, sit down. “It’s not our fault we’re gonna win it. “Powwow is ours in a minute.” This is Abigail’s second time at Marygrove, and the 8-year-old loves all the traditions — such as Christmas in July, where the dining hall looks like Santa’s living room, decorated with trees and faux snow.

“It’s so much fun to be here and so many things to do,” says Abigail, whose mother Moyo used to work at Marygrove and is currently studying medicine. “Everyone here is my friend.”

She recommends the camp to other girls, promising they’ll have the best time ever. “There’s nothing hard at Marygrove,” adds Abigail who says no one makes a fuss at camp if something goes wrong, “It’s perfect here.” Goal: $650,000 To Date: $600,216 How to donate: With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvanta­ged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives these children much more than relief from summer heat — it gives them a break in life and memories to last a lifetime. Our target is $650,000. By cheque: Mail to the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6 By credit card: Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or Discover, call 416-869-4847 Online: For instant donations, use our secure form at:­nd The Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September If you have benefited from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email

 ?? LESLIE FERENC/TORONTO STAR ?? Athi, 12, left, and Abigail, 8, love all the activities at Marygrove, including canoeing and swimming.
LESLIE FERENC/TORONTO STAR Athi, 12, left, and Abigail, 8, love all the activities at Marygrove, including canoeing and swimming.
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