CampOut Blog

Enjoy A Backcountry CampOut

Enjoy a Backcountry CampOut!

Whether you are a seasoned camper or a weekend warrior, getting out to adventure in a national or provincial park this year seems even more awesome with Canada 150 to celebrate.

Absolutely nothing beats feeling one with our great Canadian outdoors, roasting marshmallows over the open fire, under the stars with friends and family.

If you’ve never backcountry camped before, here are some good safety tips provided by our friends at Ontario Parks:

  • It is important to plan out your entire route in advance of the trip. Park staff and local outfitters can help with trip planning.
  • Leave a travel itinerary with a friend or family member not going on the trip. Include expected return time, date, and location.
  • Carry a stocked first aid kit, compass, map, GPS, and other safety equipment. Ensure you know how to use your equipment before you leave for your trip.
  • Paddlers should be strong swimmers and wear a PFD at all times.
  • Only explore backcountry opportunities that suit your skill and knowledge level.
  • Consult accurate weather forecast and prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies. Remember it is unsafe to be on the water during a thunderstorm.
  • Bring proper clothing and equipment for any situation.

If you’ve already planned a camping trip, then consider turning it into a mini CampOut. That’s what Alex Merwin from Team Algonquin – The Brent Run did. Our first #BackcountryCamper.



Join The Couch CampOut!

Are you one of those people that cringes at the idea of bugs, dirt, and rainy weather? Or maybe you just have too much on the go?

Instead, does your idea of a good time find you thinking of a cozy spot by the fireplace surrounded by family and friends? Or maybe it’s making something delicious to eat and sharing it with those you love most?

If you prefer the comforts of your home, don’t worry, you are not alone! And we’ve got you covered because CampOut for Cancer was designed with you in mind too! Go ahead and cozy up on your living room couch with a sleeping bag and a good book for your CampOut for Cancer. We applaud all Couch Potatoes!

Three must haves for your #CouchCampOut:

  1. Camp inspired activities. This is the perfect time to dust off and pull out board games and cards and challenge your friends to a games night.
  2. Good food is a must! Don’t forget to include at least one recipe from the Official CampOut Cookbook. The S’mores Mess sounds perfect.
  3. And your camera. Definitely share your photos, because we all want to see those big, beautiful forts made with blankets, couch cushions, pillows and everything you can think of!

Be a proud Couch Camper and invite friends and family to join you in supporting Camp Trillium. What’s that saying again?…”If You Build It…The Fundraising Will Come!”




The Hope Family’s Story

On August 31, 2004, our family was changed forever. Our youngest daughter, Kristen Hope, then 19 months old, was diagnosed with Leukemia —cancer of the blood. That day we embarked on a journey that has taken us places we never would have imagined, and sometimes pray to forget. Childhood cancer is one of life’s cruelest tragedies, innocence is striped away, families are thrown into turmoil, siblings are devastated, finances are uncertain, and life will never be the same again.

Outsiders reacted differently to the discovery of Kristen’s cancer: some rushed across the street to be a part of the drama….”Your daughter has cancer?” amid curious stares; some looked the other way…uncertain or unwilling to get involved; worse yet the standoffish “She’ll be okay” without concern, not realizing that we were living out a parent’s worst nightmare.

With Kristen’s diagnosis we entered a new world; where conversations of treatment time, prognosis, and blood counts were and are standard.  This world has a language all of it’s own, and is not understood until lived by another.  We have watched families wait for their children to die, and cried with them, and for them, as our darkest fears are lived out in the lives of others.

In one of our stays at Sick Kids, Mark spoke with a hospital volunteer, he spoke of Camp Trillium, where he had worked the previous summer. We began to read up on the Camp, and were intrigued by what we read. This was a place where our whole family could go, and spend some time away together in the summer.

We learned that Camp Trillium runs a Youth Group program in the fall- spring. We signed Alex (8) Jamie (9) and Spencer (12) up for youth group. Once a month, the camp runs an activity, at no cost, for cancer patients and their siblings. The kids had a great time at the couple of events they attended.

When the summer registration packages came out, we decided to try to attend a Family Camp at Rainbow Lake. We also signed the 3 older kids up for a 1-week residential camp at Garrett’s Island.  None of us were quite sure what to expect as we pulled up to the gate. We were met by a bunch of VERY enthusiastic young people…. a race into camp, full of pit stops and craziness.

We were assigned 4 ‘special friends’, one for each child.  These young adults were amazing, they went beyond what we expected to make us feel at home, and to look after our kids.  The camp facilities were wonderful, the staff unbelievable, and our experience was unforgettable.  Mark and I were able to spend time together, in an environment where our children were safe and well taken care of.  Our kids had the opportunity to experience activities that they had never done before.  In that one-week, we met new families whose life experience now paralleled our own.  Some had kids off treatment, some on treatment, and sadly we met families whose children had not won their fight against cancer, but each of us had something to give and teach the other.

We were not certain how the kids would react to the camp, how much fun they would have.  Alex and Jamie cried for ½ hour as we drove away, Spencer at 12 said “That was an experience of a lifetime”, and Kristen a 2.5 year old still remembers her ‘best Holly’, and cried to see her (Holly was her special friend).  Mark and I had a week where we were “normal”, and that in and of itself was priceless.  We had the opportunity to meet many wonderful, kind and selfless young adults, many of whom have survived cancer themselves, or experienced childhood cancer as a sibling.  Two of our ‘special friends’ had survived the same type of cancer that Kristen is fighting; this gave us hope and encouragement.

The kids counted down the weeks until their time at Garrett’s Island for their 1-week camp without us.  They were excited to go again, and made wonderful friends.  Once again, Alex and Jamie’s tears to leave their ‘special friends’ were a testimony to the great job that is done at camp.  One of the first things the kids asked was if next year they could go away for the 12-day camp.

The kids have all enjoyed camp over the past 8 years.  It is still a highlight of our summer, and we are excited to be able to attend camp.  Each year we are encouraged, and try to encourage other families dealing with childhood cancer.

The summer of 2012, brought me another VERY special memory.  We joined a few families for a small campfire and s’mores, there was a child there – a brain tumour survivor, and sometimes the long term effects are great with brain tumour survivors.  He was difficult to understand, but I watched my son leave with him, and later watched from a distance as Alex interacted with this boy, listened intently, and played basketball with him.  Camp has provided many learning opportunities for our family, especially the siblings who thankfully didn’t experience much of Kristen’s hospital life.  Camp has enriched their lives beyond what I can measure; they have experienced growth as individuals that I could never put into words.

Camp Trillium is a wonderful place, amid a terrible circumstance.  We and many other families have benefited from this camp experience.  The option for whole families and/or siblings to enjoy the camp experience is wonderful.  Childhood cancer destroys so many faucets of your life; camp gave some of that back.  We are grateful for the opportunity to attend Camp Trillium; we have already begun to plan for next year.  I don’t think that I can fully explain the effect that going to camp had on our family, but as the saying goes “Until there is a cure, there’s camp”.

We CampOut for Rowan Langille!

Rowan Langille’s journey began May 13, 2010 at the age of 18 months. Rowan was diagnosed with an Ependymoma brain tumour and severe hydrocephalus. He immediately had surgery on the 14th to resect 95% of it. About 3 weeks later he had surgery to insert his g-tube and port a cath and 1 week after that we began chemo.  Rowan had endured 2 rounds of chemo and 33 radiation treatments on his brain. He had finished treatment on the Thanksgiving weekend of the same year! We were very ecstatic that we had made it through. Rowan ended up having to have a VP shunt put in his head in January 2011 to help drain the excess cerebral fluid that remained. He then continued to go for MRI’s every 4 months. Everything was coming up stable!

That was our first summer at Camp Trillium! We were a little hesitant at first but then we had met other families that said we had to go because it was the greatest family experience and everyone there could relate to our story. The week we were there was truly amazing! The kids were all treated like gold and everyone was treated equally regarding the situation. We have 4 children and they all truly enjoyed it. That was the first place where there were other children who could relate to the situation they were in. In the New Year Rowan started to complain that his back was really hurting and we thought it was because he really enjoyed playing hockey!  We took him back to clinic in Feb 2012 and they immediately ordered another MRI.

The next day we found out that Rowans cancer had returned and there was a tumour on his spine and coating all the way down his spine. The only option we had left was to do radiation on his spine. He immediately started within a week of diagnosis. Rowan endured another 28 treatments on his complete spine all the way up to where they had left off from the initial radiation. So far his tumours have remained stable and we are 8 months post treatment. He now goes for MRI’s every 3 months and has continued to amaze the oncology team.

We did attend Camp Trillium again this summer and had a truly amazing time and met even more families. It is a place that you can go and relax and forget about everything that you have endured as a family and just let loose. We truly enjoy going to camp and have the intention to keep going every year as long as they let us! I am hoping that all my children will pay it forward by going back to be special friends to the up and coming new families when they are at the age to do so. We thank Camp Trillium for giving us the opportunity to regroup and have the special bonding with our families that we need to keep going through this journey.

Camp helped bond the Gilman Family together

In September 2007, our lives were ripped apart in less than 24 hrs. After what I thought was a routine doctors appointment and blood work, we received a call. “A bed is ready at McMaster – you need to get your child to the hospital ASAP”. The first three months of the diagnosis was spent living at the hospital with brief periods at home. My two boys did not know how to cope. They were jealous that their sister was getting stuff and more attention than they did. Then a tragic accident happened when my daughter broke her arm and leg. She was in so much pain and dealing with things. During those traumatic times people told us we should try Camp Trillium. I just said we were not ready yet. Boy was I wrong. 

Camp Trillium realizes that cancer doesn’t just affect the child, it touches ever family member. That helped bond our family together. My daughter learned that she is not going to get hurt and learned to be adventurous. The boys are just grateful they get to go to camp. The kids blend in. Everyone at Camp Trillium knows all about nose tubes or bald heads and are okay with it. It’s an environment of comfort and nurturing. Most of all, you feel special! My daughter felt alive again after her first camp experience. Thank you Camp Trillium! And thank you for the memories created and many more to come.