Our family has had a close attachment to RKY Camp for almost 60 years, through three generations and continuing. As the Camp completes its Revitalization Program, we reflected on our involvement with RKY and on the vision for its future.
We applaud the initiative of the Revitalization Program. The large new main building/dining hall is now finished. This gives the Camp the opportunity to restructure the previous main building for badly-needed functions, particularly those related to the central theme of RKY -- out-tripping and other outdoor-related activities. This year, Maryln and I have donated the funds for restructuring this original building into a fully equipped “Outdoor Centre.” As I write, work is continuing on this $200,000 project, with completion in time for the start of camp in 2021.
Our connection to RKY Camp began in 1962, when Maryln and I moved to Kingston with our three young children – Tim, Carol and Mary -- and I began a 30 year connection with DuPont. Maryln loves summer camp, having been a camper, counsellor and head of waterfront at a Muskoka camp. Maryln joined the Y, where she taught swimming, helped with fund-raising and was on the Y Board, with responsibility for connection to RKY Camp. Although we moved away from Kingston in the 1970s, we have continued to have strong links to the area. I had been manager of the DuPont Research Centre and later, as a senior executive with responsibility for manufacturing, the Kingston plant was one of my responsibilities. We kept our Kingston friendships, our children went to Queens and we have a family cottage on Wolfe Island.
In 1964, when our son Tim was eight, he began going to RKY, soon followed by Carol and then Mary. Tim and Carol were each at camp for 10 or 11 years, as campers and counsellors, and then Tim as Maintenance Helper and Carol as Head of Arts & Crafts.
In 1977, Tim was killed in a car accident. He was 20 and full of energy and high spirits. Not long ago, we heard two lovely stories about him, one about a RKY prank. We decided to keep his memory alive by making a sustained annual donation to RKY Camp, a place he loved. Starting in 1978, two children have been sent to camp each year, children who might not otherwise have been able to go. Now, more than forty years later, a total of 91 Kingston area children have attended RKY in Tim’s memory. Many of the sponsored campers have been from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization (Maryln was administrator of that organization in the early 1970s). For the last 15 years we have also supported a special safety training program for the camp’s out-tripping leaders, a program we proposed after hearing of the dreadful Temagami camp tragedy.
When our daughter Carol married Paul Goodfellow, another connection to RKY was established. Paul’s family is from Tichborne and has a family cottage on Eagle Lake. From the time they were four, their two sons -- Jamie and Jonathan Goodfellow -- came from Vancouver and later from St Louis, Missouri, to spend their summers with us at Wolfe Island. As soon as they were old enough, summers for them included RKY Camp. It was a joy for us to send our grandchildren to RKY, first as campers and then as counsellors. And now Jamie and Alex have told us that they intend that their children, our great grandchildren, go to RKY Camp!
So in total, our family has attended RKY Camp for 45 camper years! It has been such an important part of the lives of our children and grandchildren that many of their close, continuing friendships began at RKY.
Maryln and I are so happy to see the Camp thrive. The RKY leadership is to be commended for the excellent rating the camp achieves among its peer camps and for successfully managing the extensive Revitalization Program in a period of such difficulty.
One of our specific goals is to continue to support RKY Camp and we have made financial arrangements to do so for the future. Perhaps that support will continue for another 50 years!
Maryln & Jim Stewart, February, 2021
Tim Stewart, 1965, at age 9,