Wanapitei 101: What is… the Chateau? Banquet Night? Community Weekend? Harvest?
When an organization has been around for as long as Wanapitei, it can be easy to take for granted that not everyone understands what you are talking about when you throw around phrases like Harvest Night, Chateau, Community Weekend or Banquet Night. These things are so ingrained in our culture that we can sometimes be guilty of not explaining them very well to those who are new to our community. Today’s blog will focus on demystifying these terms and letting you know how our camper families can take part in the fun of summer camp.
Our child and youth programs are definitely the core focus of Camp Wanapitei, but we don’t think our campers should be the only ones able to enjoy our site. We also recognize that because we are unable to offer a traditional Visitor’s Day due to the duration of our canoe trips, it can be hard for some families to feel part of their child’s experience. This is why we provide opportunities for our families to join us at camp for the beginning and end of sessions.
Jointly managed by Camp Wanapitei and the Hodgins Family, the Chateau is our ten-room heritage lodge located where the Red Squirrel River meets Lake Temagami. Rooms in the Chateau can be booked by families dropping off or picking up their campers, or by anyone looking to spend a few days in the beauty of the Temagami area. The lodge features a large common-room and big front porch. Accommodations are basic, and are supplemented by a beautiful setting, close proximity to the Camp, gorgeous beach, and delicious meals prepared by our Chateau hosts. Tenting is also available on the site, with full access to the Chateau’s facilities (showers, toilets, and meals).
We host Banquet Nights on the last day of each of our two week sessions. More than just a dinner, Banquets are a celebration of our campers’ accomplishments and a way to see and hear about your child’s experiences. Most families arrive early to mid-afternoon, in time to settle in on the Chateau side and catch a glimpse of the Regatta. The Regatta is a themed afternoon of activities with all campers participating on one of up to four teams. Past themes have included Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Super Heroes. The culminating event, and a favorite of participants and spectators, is Sink the Swiss Navy, where campers get to participate in a giant water-fight in their canoes. Once everyone has dried off, campers, staff and families come together in (or, if we’re lucky, outside) the Dining Hall for a delicious dinner. After dinner, each trip group is invited up to receive their paddling awards from their leaders and every camper is presented with a certificate and crest. We end the night with a presentation from each group, usually a skit or a song, highlighting special moments from their time at camp. Campers work incredibly hard on these presentations and let their inner performer shine!
Taking place between the end of our July sessions and beginning of our August sessions, Community Weekend is an opportunity for camper families, alumni, staff and friends to enjoy Wanapitei together. Starting last year, we have begun the “re-envisioning” of Community Weekend, allowing for visitors to use their time as they would like. Guests are welcome to explore local hiking trails, take boats out for a paddle and catch-up with friends at the Chateau. On Saturday evening, camp hosts a barbeque dinner followed by an intimate night of songs around a campfire featuring some of our gifted alumni vocalists. Tenting for Saturday night is free of charge at the Chateau. Families picking up or dropping off their campers often choose to “make a weekend of it” just for Community Weekend.
Harvest Night is our final Banquet Night of the summer. This night is incredibly special for many reasons. It marks our final night of camp for the summer and the “coming home” of our Voyageur II campers from their 52-day trips through the Territories. It is an emotional experience for all and an event that has come to define what Wanapitei is all about. Harvest Night is a bit of a misnomer, as it has expanded to a weekend event. The majority of our guests arrive by Friday afternoon, in time to welcome home the August Bay Trip and River Adventure campers. On Friday night, the Chateau chefs pull out all the stops for our Gourmet Dinner for guests, while campers “bow to their partners” at the Square Dance on the camp side. On Saturday morning, the Bridge and surrounding area swells with people to welcome back our Voyageur I and Voyageur II trips. Voyageur II families are front and centre to see their campers paddle our fleet of wood-canvas canoes under the Bridge, with smiles and tears in great supply. We strongly encourage Voyageur II families to join us for this experience – it is a landmark moment for campers that many will remember vividly for the rest of their lives. In the afternoon, the VIIs share stories of their trips followed by the traditional Regatta events. The evening follows the same schedule as our other Banquet nights – tasty food, awards and skits – but there is something that is extra magical about this night, with everyone gathered outside under the stars one last time. While much of the weekend’s focus may seem to be on the VIIs, all campers are given their chance to shine and be recognized for their experiences, as well as giving them new goals for their coming years at Wanapitei. Many a Temagami and Coureur de Bois camper can be heard whispering “I can’t wait until my VII” as the evening comes to a close.
Advance reservations are required for all our Camp events in order to ensure enough space and food is available. Chateau booking forms (to be used for Chateau visits, Banquet Nights and Community Weekend) and Harvest Weekend Booking forms can be found here: https://www.wanapitei.net/parent-resources/forms-and-downloads/ We hope you will join us!