Scott Mission bought a 100 acre farm in Caledon in the 1950s to expand summer camp programs. The land was a working farm and was open fields with few trees. With rolling hills, near the Niagara Escarpment, the farm is close to the Scott Mission’s other camp in Hillsburgh and Toronto, where most campers come from. Today the camp’s semi-forested landscape looks very different from its early photos.
“I was inspired by talking with people who were here when Scott Mission first bought the property and had the foresight to plant pine trees that are now a favourite spot for campers and staff,” says Camp Director Jeff Johnson. The trees now tower above the camp’s central recreation field and main buildings and are affectionately referred to as the “Pine Forest”. Campers play games amongst the trees and camp fires glow there in the evenings. Johnson wants to create a similar gift for future camp generations. In partnership with Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), the Scott Mission has planted over 9,000 trees and shrubs on the property over the past three years.
“It takes over 40 years to grow something like our ‘Pine Forest’ so someone has to show initiative and make it happen”. Prior to partnering with CVC Johnson, who is spending his 11th summer with the camp, started some planting on his own. Concerned about planting the right species, he turned to CVC’s Private Landowner Tree Planting Program for help. In addition to substantial tree subsidies, Scott Mission received free planning advice, technical support and labour. Johnson says they could never have afforded such a large tree planting project on their own. “CVC forestry staff were extremely thoughtful, respectful and sensitive in trying not to infringe on camp activities” he adds.
In 2008, over 8,500 native trees and shrubs such as white spruce, tamarack and red oak were planted. Last year, after calling CVC about algae growing in the camp’s pond, another 600 trees and shrubs were planted to help buffer the pond from excess nutrients running off from the land. This year there’s no algae problem.
“It’s important to tell the kids that we’ve planted thousands of trees here and that we are looking to the future, trying to do something that helps improve and protect the land” says Johnson, who would like to work with CVC on more plantings and care for the beautiful nature that is already there.