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Volunteers Fuel Youth Camps at Bar Harbour

Bar Harbour Camp, Alberta
A beach bonfire at Bar Harbour Camp. Submitted Photo March 9, 2024 at 8:00 pm

Darielle Rairdan knows how volunteers can inspire youth.

The soon-to-be president of the board of directors for Bar Harbour Camp is herself a volunteer, and a third-generation camper.

Bar Harbour Board Member
Board member and third-generation camper Darielle Rairdan.

"I have been involved with Bar Harbour my entire life," she says. "I was a camper from the ages of six to 17 before I joined staff as a Leader in Training at 16, and I've worked in numerous roles for several years before joining the Board."

Rairdan currently chairs the Youth Camp and Fundraising Committees, which plan camp programs, secure funding, and hire and train staff members and volunteers.

"While our staff are paid seasonal positions, volunteers are what keep camp alive," says Rairdan. "Camp is run by a volunteer board of directors, and we have numerous volunteers that come out to camp as support persons for staff and campers."

Bar Harbour, one of the most affordable camps in Alberta, hosts about 160-170 campers each year. Although the camp has seen 250 campers in summers past, numbers have decreased since the COVID-19 health restrictions a few years ago.

"Numbers have dropped since Covid, particularly the Junior 10-12 age group," says Rairdan. “They would’ve been in the Scamper group when Covid hit, but they missed out on those years, and didn’t have the initial summer camp experience."

Bar Harbour Camp, Alberta
A game of soccer. Submitted Photo

The most popular programs at Bar Harbour are the talent show and dance, Gaga Ball, archery, canoeing, night games, and themed meals, such as crazy utensil night.

Specialty programs are also popular, and have included busking, dance, gymnastics, off-site excursions, survival (fire building, knot-tying, shelter building), sports performance, and yoga. They are run by staff or volunteers with specialized knowledge.

Bar Harbour has offered youth camps since 1935. The land, situated on the south end of Buffalo Lake, was originally donated to the United Church by Fred Holder in the 1920s for the purpose of "youth camping".

"We want kids leaving here with new lifetime friends that they can have through adulthood," says Rairdan. "We're building authentic connections.”

Bar Harbour camp, Alberta
Archery at Bar Harbour. Submitted Photo

For those looking to get involved in the summer camp experience, Bar Harbour is looking for volunteers to help with food preparation, general maintenance, and landscaping.

"There's also a camp clean-up scheduled for April 12-13, 10am to 6pm," says Rairdan. "Come for as little or as long as you would like! Bring a friend, and come tinker away to help us prepare for our rentals and campers. Snacks and refreshments will be provided, but please bring a lunch."

For more information, visit the Bar Harbour website, or stop by their booth at the Stettler Trade Show (April 12-14).


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