Loyalty helping to keep RKY Camp north of Kingston alive during pandemic

Good news and bad news for RKY Camp north of Kingston
WATCH: RKY camp in Parham north of Kingston won't open this year but camp director is looking to the future.

Generations of Kingstonians have gone to the RKY Camp in Parham north of the Limestone City. But that won’t happen this year as COVID-19 is causing the longtime facility to take a break.

No campfires, no canoeing and no jumping from a tower into the water are permitted, as all of those activities have been put on hold because of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Queen’s University cancels summer youth camps due to coronavirus pandemic

“For us in the industry, we were not surprised,” said D’Arcy Munn, the camp’s director.

“It is devastating for campers and families and so we empathize but I think the important message is that it’s not devastating for the camp we will be here next year.”

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That’s the bad news, but Global News has found some good news at Eagle Lake, the site of the camp.

Kingston, Ont., retail stores open doors to customers
Kingston, Ont., retail stores open doors to customers

The pandemic can’t take away the fact that 2020 marks the 90th anniversary of the camp. The non-profit organization was founded by the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and the YMCA of Kingston.

Munn’s optimism comes after a survey sent to parents of enrolled campers showed plenty of support.

“We asked them what they’d like us to do with their fees,” Munn said. “Seventy per cent of the families have either donated their fees completely for a tax receipt or deferred their registration to next year in support of the camp.

“That gives us the confidence to move forward, the motivation to move forward and to know that we will be here next year and our families will be, too.”

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More of that optimism is because of a new dining hall that’s in the midst of being built. Munn says the $2 million-plus project is part of a continuing revitalization campaign.

“This is to bring us into the new normal as well,” Munn said. “We’re going from a 2,000-square-foot dining hall space to a 5,000-square-foot dining hall space. That was a decision made before the pandemic.

“It’s an added bonus now that we have so much more space to accommodate people and be distant and now we’re just looking forward to the build.”

Munn says $1.3 million has already been raised for the new dining hall and some of those fees will go to the project, as well.

A fundraising campaign is underway for Eagle Lake’s RKY Camp refurbishments
A fundraising campaign is underway for Eagle Lake’s RKY Camp refurbishments