Labour United raises a stink for Stevenson Children’s Camp

Stevenson Children’s Camp is up-and-running with renovated washrooms complete with hot showers, just in time for a new crop of summer campers.

The renovation project included eight toilets, six showers, 16 sinks and taps, mirrors, built in benches, custom counter tops and custom lighting systems – all made possible through volunteer time and donations coordinated by Labour United, a group of volunteers from unionized shops working in partnership with United Way Elgin Middlesex.

Post-camp cleanup last summer identified major repairs including busted water heaters – all out of scope for the organization’s operating budget. Labour United stepped in with an offer to not only fix the problems, but to overhaul the washroom complex.

Brian Tansy, Chair of Labour United, says that projects like this are a natural fit for labour volunteers who are good at seeing something that’s not working and getting to work to solve it. “We did it for the kids. Let’s give them a step up and they’ll do the same for us when we’re really old,” he says with a smile.

Labour United volunteers and supporters contributed an estimated $20,000 worth of money, materials and fixtures and over 100 hours of skilled volunteer time. Volunteers also created 160 hand-made “camp kits” filled with a new toothbrush, toothpaste and other goodies for campers. Labour United chooses a project at a different United Way funded agency every year for its annual Labour Gives Back initiative.

Every year, Stevenson Children’s Camp welcomes 768 children and youth from families who can’t otherwise afford to send their kids to camp. United Way funding subsidizes almost half of these campers every year. Families pay $20 per child, well below the actual cost of $365 for a week of overnight camp.

For many kids, it’s their first summer camp experience and an opportunity for carefree adventure, learning new skills and making new friends.

“Camp is transformative,” says Joe Douglas, Camp Director. “Kids get a week away from adult concerns and parents get a much-needed break to re-charge so they’re at their best when the kids come home. The impact is so much more than one kid at camp.”

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