Frequently Asked Questions

We have a cottage - why should I send my son to Kilcoo?

Kilcoo provides a valuable experience in group living. Campers learn to become more independent, responsible, tolerant, understanding, and cooperative, traits which cannot be developed to the same degree at a summer cottage. Time away from parents also allows campers an opportunity to gain insight into their own strengths and weaknesses and grow their confidence and sense of self as an individual. Of course, we also offer a wide range of activities and programs kids aren’t likely to find at their cottage, including archery, high ropes, and full size sports fields and courts.

How many campers are in a cabin?

Cabins generally have between 8 to 10 campers, as well as a Counsellor and LIT (Leader in Training) who stay in their own private quarters at the back of the cabin. Campers sleep in bunk beds and have their own cubby for clothes and other belongings. 

What is the two-week program all about?

Our two-week program is a great way to introduce younger kids to the idea of summer camp and provides a great taste of what Kilcoo has to offer. While our overall camp program is still build around our four-week sessions, two-week campers will still try all of the activities available to them and will still take part in a short canoe trip out of camp. The two-week program is only open to kids 12 and under. The year your son turns 13, he must go for a month.  

Is there much homesickness at camp?

There is actually much less homesickness than you might think. As soon as the campers arrive at Kilcoo, they are immediately integrated into the cabin groups and begin the program of camp. We find that in general, campers “get over” homesickness after the first few days of camp. Of course, there will always be some kids who are more prone to homesickness, and that is totally normal! All of our staff and LITs undergo training to help kids through experiencing homesickness – it isn’t something we want to suppress or hide, but something to overcome! Campers who start their time at camp feeling homesick often end up feeling the most proud of their time at camp by the end exactly because they persevered through it and did something they didn’t think they could. It helps the campers and the staff enormously by starting to work through homesickness at home. Let your son know it’s okay to be homesick and that you know they can get through it and will have so much fun at camp! We recommend never telling your son that they can come home if they are homesick; it makes any efforts by the Kilcoo staff much more challenging to get them to want to work through it if the camper feels it’s easier and totally okay to go home early, which doesn’t help anybody in the long run. 

How old are the Kilcoo staff?

The majority of our counsellors and instructors are between 18 and 22. Most are in University or just completing high school. Nearly all of our staff are former campers themselves and have successfully completed our two-year Leader in Training program. 

How is the program organized?

Our day is broken into six periods – three in the morning and three in the afternoon. Every cabin is assigned a mix of instructed and uninstructed activities for the day, including a daily swimming lesson. The campers, LIT, and counsellor all travel together and complete the activity as a cabin group, sometimes paired up with a second cabin in the same age group. Every camper is encouraged to fully participate in every activity. After dinner, we have Evening Program, where the activities are all open and campers may choose what they want to do that day. This system allows campers to experience everything Kilcoo has to offer while still allowing them freedom to focus on their favourite activities and really hone their skills, with many activities offering levels campers can earn over time! The last three days of each session are all in this Open Program format, allowing campers to focus on their special interests and wrap up and levels they may be working on. In addition to our regular programming, there are lots of planned special events like Section Sports, regattas, skit nights, campfires, and more!  

Is the Sunday program different?

Kilcoo is a non-denominational summer camp; we are proud to have campers from many different religious and cultural backgrounds. On Sunday morning, we hold a service at Chapel Point delivered by members of our Senior Staff. These are based on moral and values-based lessons like the importance of team work, accepting failure along with success, and the importance of personal growth and reflection. Chapel Point becomes a very important spot for many campers and staff over their time at camp. Sunday afternoon is usually dedicated to a camp-wide game or theme day. In the evening, the entire camp gathers together for Kilabaloo, Kilcoo’s songs and skit night. Both campers and staff are encouraged to perform in front their peers… more than a few careers in the entertainment world have been launched on the Kilcoo stage!

What is Kilcoo’s policy for non-swimmers?

Given that many of our activities centre around the waterfront, we strongly encourage your son to have some experience in the water before he comes to camp. Every camper completes a swimming test when they first arrive at camp to assess his swimming ability. Non-swimmers are permitted in sailboats and canoes under strict supervision and must wear a lifejacket at all times, as every camper does regardless of their swimming ability. Every day, each cabins has an hour of Swim Instruction. Non-swimmers are taken to our beach area where they work on fundamental skills with our trained swim staff. Campers can arrange for extra lessons during Evening Program with the swim staff if they are keen in improve. Campers of all swimming abilities must follow the same waterfront safety rules, including  wearing lifejackets at all times when in a boat, no swimming without lifeguards, and no waterfront activities after dark. 

What is the camp's policy on lifejackets?

Every camper is expected to bring their own government-approved lifejacket to camp. It is important that it fits properly; the waterfront staff will be checking proper sizing on the first day of camp. Campers must wear their lifejackets at all times when using canoes, sail boats, kayaks, windsurfers, paddleboards, or any other camp watercraft. If you cannot send your son to camp with a lifejacket, we have a limited number available that can be used when needed. 

What is the Camp Uniform, and should I be buying new clothes for camp?

Our camp uniform consists of a green Kilcoo T-Shirt and gap-style (aka not cargo) khaki shorts Campers wear their uniform on Sundays and special occasions like Visitors’ Day. The T-Shirt can be ordered ahead on your camper forms or can be purchased at our tuck shop at any time. We do not sell uniform shorts and don’t worry too much about subtle differences. While we do offer weekly laundry service, we do not recommend sending new, expensive, or sentimental clothes to camp. It’s a great opportunity to wear out some older items! We recommend everything your sons brings to camp is clearly labelled to ensure the best chance that it all makes it home. 

What is your policy regarding the Tuck Shop?

The tuck shop is open at specified times, twice per week for each camper. The boys are permitted to choose two items from an assortment of juice, pop, candy, chips, and frozen treats. These items are built into your camper fees and will not appear on your tuck bill. Anything else, from our great Kilcoo gear to toiletries and batteries, will be added to your bill that is sent at the end of the session. For some of our more expensive goods like jackets and sweatpants, you will receive an email or call home to ensure it’s alright for your son to buy them. Campers do not need to bring any money camp. 

Do the majority of campers use a sleeping bag or blankets?

We recommend campers come with a twin or single-sized fitted sheet, a sleeping bag, and a pillow with pillow case, plus an extra blanket for some added comfort and warmth in the cooler August nights. If your son does come with a blanket or duvet, please also send a sleeping bag for him to bring on trip, as bulkier items will not fit into his pack. 

Do I need to buy a classic camp trunk?

Definitely not! You can send your son to camp in whatever luggage you have – hockey bags, suitcases, duffle bags, etc. are all just fine. The campers each have their own cubby, so their bags are typically just kept under their beds. If you go buy a trunk or some with a hard suitcase, make sure it’s less than 14” tall so it can fit under the bunks! 

What are the procedures in case of accident or illness?

Kilcoo’s medical team is made up of a rotation of trained medical professionals, always including at least one Doctor or Nurse Practitioner. The rest of our team include nurses, medical students, and advance wilderness first aid instructors. In the event of am accident, our medical team will decide what course of action to take. 

If the concern is minor – scrapes, bumps, colds, etc. – treatment will be administered at our camp infirmary and monitored until resolved. Most issues campers face can be treated on site. It is to be expected that many boys will visit the infirmary at one time or another throughout their time at camp.

If required, Kilcoo is close by to several medical facilities, including the Minden Hospital and the Haliburton Emergency Department.  If a hospital visit is required, you will be notified, and regular updates will be given. 

For campers requiring daily doses of medicine, allergy shots, etc., all medicines will be kept and administered in the infirmary. The medical staff will establish a routine with each camper and ensure that he is following his medicinal schedule properly. Every camper in camp will meet with the medical staff upon arrival at Kilcoo.

What is a typical day at Kilcoo?

8:00 – Wake-up and optional Polar Bear dip in the lake
8:30 – Breakfast
9:15 – Cabin Clean-Up
9:45 – Period 1
10:40 – Period 2
11:35 – Period 3
12:45 – Lunch
1:45 – Rest Hour
2:45 – Period 4
3:40 – Period 5
4:35 – Period 6
5:45 – Dinner
6:45 – Evening Program
8:30 – Campfires & Bedtime 

What are your policies on letters, parcels, etc?

We strongly encourage all of the campers to write home regularly, and we hope that you will do the same! However, we do not recommend you write to your son every day. It can be hard for them to become fully immersed in the camp routine when they are constantly being reminded of home. We also recommend not sending your son too many care packages, and never send any food items – these will be confiscated and not returned! We suggest using classic snail mail, but for international or out of province parents, we do accept letters through Bunk1 – you can sign up here [link to Bunk1] If you want your son to be able to write back using Bunk1, please make sure to click the “add reply” button to your letter! There is nothing we can do on our end if your note does not come with a reply sheet. We do not allow campers to call home or receive calls except in the case of an emergency. 

What is your policy on visiting parents?

We have one designated Visitors’ Day per month. This is the only occasion where parents are encouraged to come and visit their son. Parents can meet their son’s counsellors, meet his favourite instructor, and maybe try his favourite activity. We offer a variety of Visitors’ Day programs that alternate year to year, including a carnival, a Kilabaloo (skit show,) and a buffet lunch. There is no Visitor’s Day for two-week campers, the time is simply too short. Parents are certainly welcome on arrival and departure day.

Do all campers go on a canoe trip?

Every camper is expected to go on a canoe trip as part of their time at camp. Trips are designed to be challenging but appropriate for each cabin’s age group. Trips range from one night to upwards of two to four weeks and could be as close as across the bay on Gull Lake to British Columbia or the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories. If your son cannot go on trip due to medical concerns, he will join another cabin for the time his regular group is away. Please contact us if you know your son cannot go on trip so we can prepare accordingly. 

Camp Office

Kilcoo Camp Ltd.
150 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 403
Toronto, Ontario M4P 1E8

Tel (416) 486-5264
Fax (416) 486-3854


Camp Address

Kilcoo Camp
10735-10737 Hwy #35
Minden, Ontario K0M 2K0

Tel (705) 286-1091
Fax (705) 286-1206