Gilda's Toronto Family Camp 2023

Our first overnight family camp was an incredible success!

Twenty-three families joined us on May 27 on Jacob Island in the Kawartha Lakes. One of the motivations for our camp was to help families, children and youth feel less alone in their cancer experience. Our goal was to create new relationships, make memories and build connections outside of Gilda’s Toronto while enjoying a fun traditional camp experience.

Family Camp 2023 - Collage 1 “Gilda’s Toronto Family Camp helped me feel I wasn’t alone. They helped me realize that other people were going through the exact same thing. I feel like I am not alone anymore. Our Island Guide (counsellor) was amazing and always helped us and showed us where to go.”

– Gilda’s Toronto Member, 13 years old

The weather cooperated on the May 27 weekend, and families immersed themselves in nature. The flexible schedule allowed families to enjoy meaningful activities based on their interests and experiences. Camp Maple Leaf staff created joyful and contagious camp energy, facilitating popular camp experiences such as high ropes/wall climbing, archery, canoeing, art making, swimming and many fun games and songs. Chef Mumma G lovingly prepared the food, and we won’t soon forget the gooey ‘smores around the campfires!

Gilda’s Toronto clinical staff and volunteer team incorporated therapeutic elements, and activities focused on the family’s cancer experience and psychosocial care. These activities included a family tree ceremony, where families shared their cancer journey, family bonds and connections while hearing about others’ experiences. On our final night together at a floating lantern illumination ceremony, we reflected on families’ personal cancer experiences, honouring and remembering all those living with cancer and those who have died.

Family Camp 2023 - Collage 5

Throughout the weekend, children, youth and families made beautiful connections with each other. Families held space for one another, sharing personal thoughts, feelings, grief, memories, wishes, and hopes tied to their cancer experiences. Friendships were formed, memories were made, and feelings of isolation were lessened. We are incredibly proud and honoured to have witnessed a community that came together and showed up for one another in a safe and supportive way.

Family Camp 2023 - Collage 3 It was nice to be around people who know what I have been through. It helped raise my spirit, and I had a very good time. The activities were so fun. I had the best experience!”

– Gilda’s Toronto Member, 11 years old

The Gilda’s Toronto team is so grateful to the families with the courage, compassion and willingness to support others in this excellent family camp adventure. It was a magical and meaningful weekend for Gilda’s Toronto.

The Family Camp would not have been possible without the generous support of many donors, including Ricki and Mark Harris and the Forest Hill Lion’s Club.

To learn more about our family programming, visit the programs section of our website. 

Family Camp 2023- Thank You