Kenesserie Camp receives $10K donation to help during difficult year

Jason Stoner of ENGIE Canada Ontario West Wind (left) and Kenesserie Camp Director Dan Richards. November 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Jason Stoner).

A camp in Ridgetown affected by circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is getting some financial help to keep it afloat this year.

Jason Stoner, site manager at ENGIE Canada – Ontario West Wind, said news of Kenesserie Camp’s struggles due to the pandemic “really struck a nerve” with staff members at the ENGIE Canada Erieau and East Lake St. Clair Wind Farms.

Stoner said he knows first hand the joy Kenesserie Camp can bring to local children as he used to be a camper himself and a camp counsellor.

“We knew we had to help,” said Stoner in a statement. “Kenesserie Camp has such deep roots in Chatham Kent and it would be a shame to let this camp go under.”

The Erieau and East Lake St. Clair Winds Farms donated $5,000 each to the camp this week, for a total of $10,000.

This past summer’s camping season was far from normal as the pandemic put a stop to school-related educational outings, summer camp, and traditional rental services. During a typical summer, there are roughly 600 campers at Kenesserie Camp.

The camp has a regular generated revenue of $192,000, according to a Kenesserie Camp media release. Although most expenses have gone down, there are other expenses to account for.

“Property tax, insurance, utilities, cost of maintenance, some staffing expense – these leave us with a $60,000 shortfall by the end of 2020 and an additional $30,000 shortfall for the first quarter of next year before we start to generate significant income from camper registrations,” read the release.

Camp Director Dan Richards said he was “thrilled” when Stoner told him the wind companies were going to help with a couple of donations.

“I worked with Jason at camp in the late ’80s and it was a powerful reminder to me of the lasting impact that camp has on children and young people’s lives,” said Richards. “[ENGIE’s] donation to Kenesserie Camp is an amazing acknowledgement that ‘Camp Builds Better Kids.'”

“The pandemic has created a total loss of revenue for summer camps in Ontario and at the same time has removed the incredible experience of camp from many children’s summer,” said Richards.

Kenesserie Camp’s annual walk-a-thon will be held virtually in late November in an effort to raise funds.

“We need help to be a place where kids can disconnect from technology and connect with each other. We need to be camp,” read the release.

Kenesserie Camp is a registered charity that has a long history in southwestern Ontario. According to the release, Kenesserie’s history can be traced back to 1903 when Kingsville Methodist Church hosted camp with a circle of tents. The camp was located near Morpeth in 1940 and has been at its current location since 1965.