LongBay Camp Art by the Lake
Westport Ontario 2009 - 2017
Imagine if I told you that there was a place in Ontario that existed where your kids, teenagers and young adults get the chance to discover and explore their creativity and ingenuity in direct contact with nature for a week or more. A magical place where they could foster their self-confidence, their imagination and their sense of communal life with others and explore their amazing potential in various art activities such as visual art, hip hop and contemporary dance, rock band and drama, amongst others – great activities taught and facilitated by professional artists in their respected field. You would probably say where is this? I want in!
Well this place did exist and it was called Longbay Camp.
Situated somewhere between Toronto and Ottawa, Longbay Camp was an art summer camp created by Ott Renolds and her family from 2009 to 2017.
I first heard about this place in the winter of 2011 when an acquaintance at the time contacted me asking me if I would be interested in teaching art at a summer camp. The idea sounded amazing; however, being a city kid that had never camped or taught in such a setting made me nervous. Furthermore, the thought of living in a cabin with basic amenities such as a rustic room and showers in the middle of nowhere kind of frightened me.
But the challenge of getting out of my comfort zone and a new challenge exited me. So I hopped on a 3 hour bus ride towards Westport that dropped me at a gas station where I got to meet the owner of the camp, Ott, a wonderful and kid-spirited soul whose sole purpose for the camp was to provide an unforgettable art experience to everyone who would be there.
What I ended up discovering was a place where no kids were judged by their background, nationality or the way they looked but valued for who they are: their creativity, uniqueness and individuality.
Throughout my 6 years there, I made some great friends, discovered a great appreciation for nature, but more importantly, I’ve seen young kids grow up to be responsible teenage camp counselors to beautiful young adults.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Long Bay had to close its doors in 2017. However, the memories of being woken up by the campers coming down for a polar bear swim in the morning, rediscovering my passion of the arts through my workshops, hanging out with my homie Joey, singing in front of camp fires, barn dances, warm summer night fireflies, the classic barn dance shows and emotional goodbyes will never be forgotten.