Rich in History and Traditions!
Every summer, we are entrusted with the well being of hundreds of children. We take this responsibility very seriously, and we also feel tremendous gratitude for the faith parents of Oconto campers place in us. We are the parents of two children and we understand what it means to trust in others for their care and safety. We are absolutely committed to making sure Oconto campers are safe, feel welcome, and are given every opportunity to thrive.
Our Camp Philosophy
At Oconto our philosophy is to help each individual grow socially, emotionally, intellectually, and physically in a safe and happy environment under the leadership of mature staff. Bright, happy, and confident, the young girls of today become the strong leaders of tomorrow. Set along the beautiful and clean waters of Eagle Lake, Camp Oconto is where fun and friendship come together in a spirit of adventure. The Land O’ Lakes region is full of rolling hills, forests, fields, marshes, and of course lakes. It is the perfect setting to explore nature and discover yourself. Camp Oconto is the place where lasting memories are made and enduring friendships begin.
Who Are Our Campers
Camp Oconto is non denominational and creates an environment that accepts and appreciates diversity. Most of our campers are from central Ontario, although girls come from all parts of Canada and the world. Our dining hall is decorated with the flags of a wide variety of countries – like Japan, Australia, parts of Europe, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey – all places from which our campers come.
Camp Oconto Campership Fund
There are many unforeseen reasons that a family’s finances would prohibit their daughter from returning to Camp Oconto.
The Oconto Campership Fund is available to girls who have been at Oconto previously but for unforeseen reasons, finances prohibit their return to camp. It is also available to the child of alumnae who cannot afford to send their daughter to camp, but desperately want their child to have the Oconto experience!
Our goal is to continue to advance the child’s education and outdoor adventures through an experience at Oconto. Oconto offers stability, fun and friendship in a time of need.
Camp Oconto History
Founded in 1924 by Ferna Graham Halliday, Camp Oconto has been a summer destination for girls ever since. Miss Halliday dreamt about a place on a beautiful lake with a big sandy beach, set among rolling hills, and with Camp Oconto her dream came true. Set on the spring-fed Eagle Lake in the Land O’ Lakes region of north-eastern Ontario, Camp Oconto is unspoiled, scenic, and one of the longest running camps in the nation.
Miss Halliday ran Oconto each year until 1949 when June Kennedy Labbett and Cliff Labbett took over. Mr. and Mrs. Labbett were very active at Oconto and in the camping industry as well. They served as members of the Ontario Camping Association and were founding fellows of the Society of Camp Directors. Mr. Labbett was also chairman of the Board of the OCA. The Labbetts ran Oconto until 1982, when they handed over the reigns to their daughter Lisa and her husband Bruce Wilson.
The camp has several buildings of historical note. Labbett Lodge, named in honour of Mr. and Mrs. Labbett, is the main gathering place and was erected in the first year of the camp in 1924. It is a building recognized for its architectural significance, and has been studied by historians at the Museum of Civilization and Man in Hull, Quebec. Halliday Hall, named for our founder, Miss Halliday, was also built in 1924 as our original Dining Hall. It now houses two arts and crafts shops, our pottery studio and the tuck shop. We are committed to preserving our history, and several other original buildings, updated through major renovations, are still used by the campers today.
Lisa’s parents took over Oconto from its original owner in 1949, and Lisa and her husband Bruce took over Oconto in 1982. Perhaps the youngest Oconto camper ever, Lisa arrived at the camp at the age of three months.
Lisa earned her degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo. She has taught outdoor education at every level from elementary through to University courses and is an active volunteer with the Ontario Camps Association. She is a past President of the Society of Camp Directors and has been a Board member of the O.C.A. Lisa has broadened her experiences with volunteer commitments with Sick Childrens’ and Markham Stouffville Hospital, Victim Services, and Evergreen Hospice in Markham.
Keenly interested in the lives of her campers, Lisa often continues close contact with Oconto families throughout the winter, and has helped several families with sensitive issues and through difficult times.
Bruce also earned his degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo. He is a certified hockey trainer and coached many years in the local hockey association, and was also the Chairman of the Board at the local church. He has worked on many different committees of the Ontario Camping Association, and is an active fellow of the Society of Camp Directors.
Lisa and Bruce Wilson have been the directors of Oconto since 1982. They have two children, and Camp Oconto is their full-time occupation and lifetime love. Together Lisa and Bruce share a deep concern for today’s youth and strive to give campers and staff alike the tools to be the leaders of tomorrow. They feel privileged to have the opportunity to work so closely with so many young people, and they take this responsibility seriously. Sensitive to and conscious of the challenges and issues affecting youth today they train staff through effective awareness programs to provide hands-on support for our campers.