Camp Ponacka’s primary aim is to provide a setting away from home where each boy really counts. Learning skills is important to foster self-confidence, one of the keys to a rich life. Ponacka offers each boy many opportunities to learn, grow and challenge himself… at daily activities, during a canoe trip, by swimming across the lake, or participating in our end of month drama production.
The Ponacka Spirit
The Ponacka Spirit – a sense of gratitude and personal responsibility, forgiveness and humility, and an appreciation of the natural world – is embodied by every staff member and CIT, and is both ‘caught’ and taught. It can be found in Ponacka’s “Morning Talks,” shared daily after breakfast by individuals on staff. The ‘Ponacka Spirit’ is why Ponackians say their summers on Lake Baptiste were the highlight of their childhood years, as they formed lifelong friendships.
“There are certain things a boy can best learn at camp: to fit into a group, to live away from home, to care for himself and his belongings, to depend on himself, to develop initiative. To “grow up”. It is important that this learning is accompanied by a feeling of success, a feeling Ponacka aims to provide for each boy, every day.
In many ways, the first camp experience is a boy’s first time facing the world at large. At Ponacka, a tremendous effort is made to make this first step enjoyable, happy and successful.”
— Bruno Morawetz, Ph D., Founder
Superior instruction and skill development
We want every boy to use his time well at camp, learning skills at each activity. The freedom to choose their own activities brings the opportunity to learn new things that are of interest. The only mandatory activities are swimming lessons and 5 canoeing lessons.
Those who love the water can enjoy Waterskiing, Windsurfing, Kayaking, early-morning Rowing, lake swims and Scuba courses. Opportunities for self-expression abound in our superior Arts & Crafts program (stained glass, candle making, batik, copper enamelling, Dream Catchers…), Pottery (wheels and kiln), Woodworking, and Lapidary (stone cutting and polishing) programs. Archery, Bushcraft, Aerial Ropes, Nature, the Climbing Wall and Biking are also popular choices.
The Best Introduction
Before camp, directors Anne and Don visit each first-year camper, distance permitting, to get to know him and his parents. It is an ideal opportunity to have questions answered. New campers are invited to attend an evening to meet Ponacka counselors and other first-year campers. Within days of arriving at camp, each boy is introduced by name and hometown in the Dining Hall. All Ponacka parents receive a scanned handwritten letter from one of their son’s counsellors shortly after arrival, providing an update about his initial camp experience.
Established leadership and continuity
Camp Ponacka was founded by Bruno and Gwen Morawetz in 1947. In continuous operation ever since, their daughter Anne Morawetz and her husband Don Bocking have directed the camp since 1985. Their daughter Laura and her husband Nick Smart are now working with Don and Anne, providing leadership and support as “the third generation”. The camp’s 38 counsellors are all former campers, selected for their skills and commitment to providing every boy with a safe and happy experience.
Many ways to excel and belong
Boys thrive on a mixture of structure, freedom and adventure, with lots of personal choice. Learning to care for themselves and accept responsibility are vital parts of the Ponacka experience. Our road-hockey league (the PHL), and soccer and basketball leagues foster teamwork and healthy competition. For others, acting in the camp play, The Big Show, is the highlight of their stay at Ponacka.
Back to Nature
Younger boys live in cabins without electricity, while older campers live under canvas tents on platforms. Electronics and cellphones are not part of the Ponacka experience. This provides the boys an opportunity to live in and appreciate the natural world.