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The Ponacka Program

Ponacka offers a wide variety of accredited courses, activities, sports, special days, and more.

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Daily sign-up activities

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Daily hour-long instruction periods

The wake-up bell at 8am signals the official start to the day, although many boys get up earlier, to go on a trail ride with the horses, play a league game of soccer or basketball, or go for a run. After the morning dip in the lake, everyone gathers at 8:30am to sing O Canada, raise the flag and enjoy a hot breakfast.

During breakfast, each boy selects his morning activities, provided he is not already enrolled in one of his pre-selected courses. Pre-selected courses include canoeing, sailing and English style horse back riding. Every boy takes a daily swim lesson until he has earned his Lifesaving Society Bronze Cross. After breakfast, a daily morning talk and sing-song are followed by cabin clean up, and then first period starts. The five activity periods each day run from 10:15am-12:15pm in the morning, and 3-6pm in the afternoon.

At 12:15pm, a boy’s “free time” options include: playing in or watching the Ponacka Hockey League (PHL) game, doing a swim across the lake, a mile paddle (across the lake and back), a free swim, tetherball, ping-pong, fishing, and the Ponacka Sphairee Tournament. Of course, free time means exactly that – each boy can choose what he wants to do.

Daily Activities: Waterskiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, archery, basketball, soccer, road hockey, a climbing wall, high aerial ropes course, mountain biking, bushcraft, nature, arts and crafts, woodworking, pottery and fishing.

During lunch at 1pm, the boys select their afternoon activities. After lunch and announcements (including cabin inspection marks), there is an hour of rest when campers may write a letter home or read quietly in their bunks.

After three activity periods from 3-6pm, the bell at 6 signals free time for 30 minutes before dinner. Following dinner at 6:30pm, the evening program offers a different camp-wide game, talent show, campfire or special activity night! After singing taps at 8:30pm, the campers sometimes have a bedtime dip before heading back to their tents and cabins.

Thursdays are Cookout days, when the boys choose a day-long adventure activity such as rock climbing, caving, biking, kayaking, sailing, trail rides, paddling to nearby Diving Rock, or hiking to Diamond Lake (two-week campers only). After a hearty breakfast they leave camp for the day, taking along lunch and dinner, returning to camp after dinner.

On Sundays, the wake up bell is at 8:30am, a half-hour sleep in! After sing-song and clean up, everyone gathers in our outdoor chapel for a brief time of reflection, followed by a Free Activity morning. A special camp-wide Sunday program begins at 3pm, which the boys look forward to with great anticipation.

Accredited Course Activities

Ponacka has 4 activities with specialized instruction and accreditation.

Every boy takes a daily swimming lesson, five days a week. We teach both the Canadian Red Cross Swim Kids program and the Lifesaving Society Bronze program. This summer, we hope to offer the new Red Cross Instructor certification to eligible 15 year olds.

Once a boy has passed his “Raft” swim test – a 150m swim around the raft, and 5 minutes of treading water – he is enrolled in a one-week, 5-lesson canoeing course for basic skills. Ponacka is an accredited member of the Ontario Recreational Canoe and Kayak Organization and offers Basic 1-4 and Canadian Style Paddling 1-3 for campers, and Flatwater Instructor certification for CITs. Campers keen on building their skills may enrol for extra lessons.

Boys attending camp for two-weeks have the opportunity to sail, although formal registration in a Canadian Yachting Association CANSail course is available only to four-week campers. For one week, two hours per day, a four-week camper may take a CANSail course, starting with CANSail Level 1. Keen sailors working on higher levels take up to three weeks of sailing lessons. Ponacka’s fleet includes Picos, Laser 1’s, Laser 2’s, a Hobicat and Vago.

Ponacka owns 10 horses and ponies used in our English style riding program. As a member of the Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ponacka follows strict safety guidelines and procedures. A one-week riding course costs $85, the only course program at Ponacka that has an additional charge. Boys can select up to three weeks of riding lessons. The boys learn stable management, how to tack up their horse, walk, trot, canter, and have the opportunity to go on trail rides, both on Thursday cookouts and before breakfast. The more experienced riders can learn jumping skills and basic dressage.

Sport Leagues

Ponacka offers 3 sport leagues and a camp-wide Sphairee tournament each month.

Every boy is automatically drafted onto a Ponacka Hockey League (PHL) team, coached by groups of counsellors and the CITs. Each team plays 5 regular-season games. Playoffs take place at the end of the month, culminating in a hard-fought final between the champions of the Mansfield and Granger divisions. There are awards for MVPs, Goaltender of the year, Best Defenseman, and more. Each month’s champions get their names engraved on the PHL plaque that hangs in the Dining Hall.

Boys in the Rover section or older (ages 10 and up) may sign up for the Ponacka Basketball Association (PBA). These boys play most of their games at 7:30 a.m., with some games played on Sundays. Playoffs are held at the end of the month, and there are awards for MVP, Best Rebounder, Best Defender, and more. Each month’s champions get their names engraved on the PBA plaque that hangs in the Dining Hall.

Our soccer league, the Ponacka International Football Association (PIFA), is available to all campers, who can sign up at the start of the month. Games are held at free time and before breakfast at 7:30am. Teams compete in a formal playoff series and earn awards for sportsmanship and dedication.

All campers can sign up for single-knockout elimination tournament. Campers compete either in the Junior or Senior division. The two winners each month get their name engraved on The Munnfellow Cup.