IN THE BEGINNING
In 1970, Thomas McGovern was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His dream was to find a charity that would operate a residential summer camp for “less fortunate children” on a property he owned on the Niagara Escarpment north of Orangeville.
He approached several organizations but they declined the responsibility. He subsequently approached Big Brothers of K-W and after some consideration the agency entered into an agreement to run a camp for 80 little brothers for two summers. At that time Big Brothers of K-W was only 7 years old and did not have 80 boys in the program, much less 80 who would want to go to summer camp. In order to fulfill the wishes in the trust, Big Brother agencies in Cambridge, Guelph, Hamilton and others were invited to send little brothers to this new program. Now we found ourselves running a “provincial program”.
The program became very popular and expanded first to 200 campers per summer and then 300 campers per summer. In 1999, the camp was moved to its current site on 120 acres alongside the Saugeen River between Durham and Hanover.
This relocation happened about the same time that Big Brother and Big Sister agencies began amalgamating at both the national and local levels. McGovern became co-ed when “little sisters” were included in the camp program.
In 2006, a grant from the K-W & Area United Way allowed us to expand our service to children from local United Ways and Family & Children’s Services. These new groups found the program to be very beneficial for their children and their families and they continue to send children to McGovern to this day.
In fact, since 2007, children from other social service agencies have surpassed the numbers from Big Brother Big Sister agencies. Of particular note is Family & Children’s Services of Waterloo Region who have been our single largest client since 2007. In 2010 they sent 125 “foster children” to McGovern which represents over 25% of our campers!
A 45 YEAR HISTORY OF SERVING YOUTH