Jeff Green | Jun 26, 2019
By the time all the money is collected, counted and donated after the 15th Buck Lake Boatilla, Camp Merrywood will have received over $250,000 in donations over the history of the event.
Not bad for something that only came about because of vandalism on Buck Lake back about 20 years. According to a history of the boatilla that was written by Buck Lake resident Duncan Sinclair, a neighbourhood watch program was instituted after a rash of break-ins and fuel thefts from boats, etc.
The crimes stopped when some people moved away from the lake, but instead of disbanding, the group decided to look around for something else to do. They decided to start a ‘send a kid to camp’ with the goal of raising the $2,000 that it costs for one child with physical disabilities to attend Camp Merrywood.
The camp is located on Big Rideau Lake near Perth. It was opened in 1948 as a camp for children with polio, and has been providing traditional summer camp programming, tailored to physically disabled campers, ever since.
It was a bit of a precarious first year, highlighted by the fact the one of the organisers, Ross Trudel, spent much of the day trying to collect $5 per person from each of the boats, while they were on the water on a pretty windy day. He survived, and $3750 was raised, almost enough to send two kids to camp. Soon after the money collection issues were ironed out, and the focus of the Boatilla has shifted somewhat over the years, with one of the the focal points now being a BBQ at the Hidden Valley Road Campground (off Perth Road).
Over the years the scale of the event, and its fundraising success, has grown. For the last few years over $25,000 has been raised each year, and the participation of some of the Camp Merrywood campers has also added a new focus to the Boatilla.
This year’s event once again provides kids an opportunity to spend a day on the water experiencing camp and boating fun. The afternoon will begin at 1pm. and feature boat tours of the Lake, including over 30 boats participating from the community. Boatilla attendees will then enjoy a complimentary community BBQ, followed by the grand finale, a cheque presentation announcing the total raised for 2019. And again this year there will also be live entertainment by The Kasaboski Family Trio.
Easter Seals Ontario, the organisation that runs Camp Merrywood, has been an enthusiastic and grateful supporter of the Boatilla over the years. They also help to promote the event.
For further information about the Boatilla or to donate, go to easterseals.org/buck-lake-boatilla