RKY Camp Governance & History

RKY Camp Board of Directors

RKY Camp is governed by a Board of Directors committed to providing all those involved with RKY Camp a memorable and valuable outdoor experience. The board is currently comprised of volunteers from the camp's founding organizations: Rotary, Kiwanis and YMCA of Kingston.

RKY Camp History

Excerpts from A History of the R-K-Y Boys Camp by David Boyce (March, 1972)

 

Organized camping in Kingston is thought to have been started by the local YMCA in 1902. In that year, a group of 23 boys reportedly had a 6-day outing at Jones Falls. From this time until WWI, outings were held regularly by the YMCA each summer at various locations on the Rideau and St. Lawrence waterways.

Following WWI, efforts were directed towards making the outings a more permanent venture. The local YMCA started a search of area lakes and chose Eagle Lake because of its numerous inlets that would ensure overnight camps and outings were an 'adventurous challenge'. The campsite was located on property owned by a local farmer, W. Goodfellow. It was situated in an area of heavily wooded, high and dry ground, and featured both a deep waterfront and a shallow, sandy section, for good and non-swimmers alike.

 

In the late 1920s, Camp Koch-pur-wani (Native for 'carefree') was held for 2-week periods each summer. The camp was able to operate due to the generosity of W. Goodfellow, who offered his land free of charge. Camp leaders were impressed with the location and took steps to make it a more permanent arrangement. The Chair of the Committee, Professor C.E. Walker of Queen's University, approached the Kingston Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs to finance the purchase. The intention at that time was a joint ownership plan to include as many groups as possible in the organization to ensure continuing financial and organizational strength.

On July 3, 1930, a 25-acres site was purchased from W. Goodfellow and J. Snider by the Rotary Club of Kingston, Kingston Kiwanis Club, and the Kingston YMCA/YWCA. Rotary and Kiwanis split the purchase price and the YMCA used the accumulated equipment as its share of the initial contribution. The original deed was put under the trusteeship of the 3 representatives, one from each of the 3 organizations: J.C. Reynolds (Rotary), C.E. Walker (YMCA), and W.H. Herrington (Kiwanis).

A managing committee and operating committee were formed to manage the affairs of the site and organize a yearly boys camp. The name RKY Eagle Lake Camp was decided to be both 'representative and pronounceable'. The arrangement of the 3 organizations jointly owning and operating a community camp was unique in the province and may have been a contributing factor to RKY Camp's long and successful history.

In the early 1930s, a framed sleeping hut with 11 bunks was built to begin the change over from canvas tents. A dining hall with a huge fireplace, kitchen and office was built in 1931. The facilities grew to include an ice-house, docks, diving tower, rafts, and many other projects. by 1935, RKY Camp operated from the end of June until early September, and included family camping. It was during this period, that the 3 founding organizations began providing sponsorships for boys who needed financial assistance. This became a common practice during WWII when many boys' fathers were overseas.

During WWII, RKY Camp was forced to close down in 1942-44 due to a lack of staff, in particular cooking staff. It reopened in 1945 and, after the war, the army assisted in providing cooks. The years following the war were a time of rapid expansion at the camp - a new extension was built on the dining hall in 1951 and another extension was necessary in 1954; 3 new cabins were added in 1952 and another 2 were built in 1957; an extension on the health cabin provided room for hospital beds and a place for the Camp Director to live; new docking was built; and the water system was extended. Most of the materials and work involved in all of the improvements were either donated or supplied at cost, and many hours were put in by 'old campers' and service club members.

1968 was a momentous year in the history of RKY Camp: a nearby girls camp (Camp Mohawk) was merged with RKY resulting in a session exclusively for girls. This programming and summer schedules continued to evolve over the years.

 

References:

  • S. Lavell, Pioneering with Youth.

  • M.G. Hamilton, The Call of Algonquin

  • Minutes of RKY Camp Committee meetings

  • Kingston Whig Standard, RKY Camp at Eagle Lake is Unique in the Province

  • RKY Camp Archives

  • Rotary Club of Kingston Archives

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