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50 Years of Presbyterian Music Camp
  By the Rev. Angus Sutherland who, along with his family, has been part of Presbyterian Music Camp for 30 years.
It was 1972, and excitement was building across the church. The first new Book of Praise since the edition of 1918 was due to be released.
The Book of Praise committee, chaired by the Rev. Wilf Moncrieff, wanted to promote the new books ef- fectively. They knew that many con- gregations, wary of change, would hold on to the 1918 edition. One of the options was to host a week-long camp, with the intention of introduc- ing the new book.
The event was held at the United Church camp at Golden Lake, near the south-eastern edge of Algonquin Park. Campers came from Ontario and Quebec and filled the air with enthusi- astic singing. It was “a test camp” un- der the auspices of the Committee on Camping for the denomination, with the express hope, noted on the 1972 brochure, that “it may be the first of many in our church across Canada.”
The first camp began on a Sunday and concluded on the following Sun- day. The brochure names a staff of two: Allan Cowle, manuscript editor of the new Book of Praise, and the Rev. Gary Morton, who would lead in contemporary songs. Enigmati- cally, the brochure adds the words “and others.”
Alison Stewart-Patterson of Mon- treal (later ordained to the ministry) had brought some of her youth group. As she drove them home, the story
goes, one of the young people said to her, “I can hardly wait to go back next year.” Although that first camp had been considered a success, it was the only camp planned. Aware of that fact, Ms. Stewart-Patterson started making phone calls almost as soon as she got home. Largely through her efforts, the camp returned to Golden Lake the following summer.
Because of the Presbyterian Music Camp, the church was encouraged to create its first youth song book, Praise Ways, which came available to the church in 1975.
The camp grew and developed in vision and in participation, the lat- ter only limited by the space at the site. In 1990, the camp committee, realizing that they were turning away almost as many people as there were at camp, negotiated for a second camp. The year 1991 saw two weeks of camp, one following the other. The two diverged somewhat in 1993, choosing different themes. Golden Lake was the home of both camps through 1995.
In 1996, the camps moved. One, designated MEO (Montreal and East- ern Ontario), settled at Wesley Acres, near Picton, Ont., and the other, des- ignated SWO (Southwestern Ontario), found its home at Camp Tamarack, near Bracebridge, Ont. The camp at Tamarack continues today, under the auspices of the Synod of Central, Northern Ontario and Bermuda.
As the name makes clear, the primary focus is music. And as the camp has developed, so have the
available workshops. At first, there were opportunities for choirs and for learning the basics of guitar, re- corder and hand bells. Present-day camps offer five choirs: camp choir, for everyone; youth choir, for teens and early twenties; children’s choir; chamber choir, for those who want something a little more challenging; and show choir, for those who long to move as well as sing. Workshops have expanded to include Celtic, folk, drumming and garage band, and added instruments such as fiddle, banjo and even bagpipes.
But Presbyterian is also in the camp name, which means that there is not only music, but also worship in the morning and evening. There are regular prayer and Bible study groups, and occasionally discus- sion groups. The camp opens with a gathering ceremony and ends with communion.
And there’s the last word in the name: camp. What would camp be without swimming? Canoeing, kay- aking and tennis are routinely part of the experience, and so are “arts and crafts,” which can take differ- ent forms depending on those who take on leadership in any given year. One doesn’t have to be a musician or even be particularly talented musical- ly to enjoy Presbyterian Music Camp.
The first camp did not allow for any campers under the age of eight, but since then the Presbyterian Music Camp has been a camp for people of all ages. Campers have ranged in age from a couple of
Scenes from Presbyterian Music Camp through the years: 1972, 1994 and 2019.
  months to some in their eighties, all contributing to the enjoyment of fel- lowship and music. The camp has also been a camp without barriers. The camp welcomes many people of different denominations, not to mention new Canadians, along with various differently abled campers. All have contributed to the rich fab- ric of the Presbyterian Music Camp
Now the Presbyterian Music Camp
is celebrating its 50th year of exist- ence—an anniversary that owes everything to those who got the camp started and kept it rolling. Much more could be written about this awesome place, but the best way to find out more would be to come and be part of the experience.
 WMS Mission Areas
    The Montreal holding centre for refugees to Canada.
projects. St. Paul’s Mission Circle in Simcoe, Ont., built a small replica of the nurses’ school in Lahore with a removable roof, which was placed on a table at the front of the sanctuary. In a short time, donations from the congregation had reached $1,000 to- ward the new roof.
The Paris WMS auxiliary raised over $450 as an energetic member
baked apple pies prior to Thanks- giving. Members of the congrega- tion gave a donation toward Action Réfugiés Montréal for the pies they purchased.
There are many ways a resilient faith will carry us through these dif- ficult times. For information about the Together We Can projects visit
By the Women’s Missionary Society
Every two years, the WMS chooses an international and a national mis- sion program on which to focus our fundraising projects. It is our belief that, working together, we can make a difference.
For the past two years, the WMS International project has been the MIBE Graduate School for Nurses in Indore, India. After heavy rains, the school building’s classrooms were flooded and the nurses’ hostel was damaged. Thanks to WMS do- nations, a badly needed tin roof has been installed.
Our national project for the past two years was Action Réfugiés Montréal (ARM)—a voice for refugees who ar- rive in Montreal, and an organization that seeks justice for asylum seekers and refugees. ARM promotes part- nerships between refugee and faith communities as well as the public at large for mutual empowerment.
Since the beginning of the pan- demic, synodicals and presbyterials have not had in-person meetings, which is where much of the funds were traditionally raised for WMS To- gether We Can projects.
Two auxiliaries in the Paris (On- tario) presbyterial undertook small
Nursing students at the MIBE Graduate School for Nurses in Indore, India.

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