Quebec summer camp closes after 63 years

Published March 1, 2006

Citing “serious financial problems,” Quebec’s diocesan executive council decided Jan. 14 to close the diocese’s Quebec Lodge Camp and to sell the property, which is situated on the shores of Lake Massawippi in the Eastern Townships, a region of mountains and lakes east of the St. Lawrence River. “It is not easy in a brief letter to convey how difficult a decision this was to make or to describe the exhaustive work which was necessary for many people to do to prepare options and assist in the decision making process,” said Archbishop Bruce Stavert in a pastoral letter read to congregations Jan. 15. “This decision will be hard for the many people throughout our diocese and elsewhere, particularly in the St. Francis Deanery, who have attended and/or worked at the Quebec Lodge Camp over the years.” Diocesan chancellor David Blair said that in recent years, Quebec Lodge Camp had incurred a debt of $400,000 to $500,000 because of falling revenues. “There was a decline in the number of campers and return campers, as well as an increase in operational costs,” said Mr. Blair in a telephone interview. Quebec Lodge faced stiff competition from other local summer camps, which had more resources for new infrastructure and programs, he added. “The competition is fierce; (operating) a summer camp is a sophisticated business,” said Mr. Blair. “People shop around through the Internet.” Founded in 1943 by Archbishop Philip Carrington, Quebec Lodge operated a Christian youth camp and conference centre. Its programs were aimed at helping campers prepare themselves “physically, mentally, socially, morally and spiritually to take their places as Christians in today’s world,” according to its Web site, “Quebec Lodge has a fantastic legacy; it has helped infuse faith in many people. It’s a heartwarming thought but in the end, we had to do something,” said Mr. Blair. There were already plans to shut down the camp 10 years ago when it faced similar losses, but the sale of adjacent land owned by the diocese managed to bail it out, he explained. In 2004, the diocese established the Quebec Lodge Foundation with a mandate to operate the camp and find ways of infusing new funds into the property but the plan did not prosper. “In the end, we had to ask some tough questions: Can we ask our poor parishes to subsidize the camp, which has been a part of our mission and ministry?” he said. “We just couldn’t carry on. If a white knight had come along to rescue us, it could have carried on.” The decision to sell the camp was not easy, said Mr. Blair. “Someone remarked that it’s like a death. There have certainly been emotional reactions.” In his letter, Archbishop Stavert urged for prayers “that this painful decision will not be a cause for division or distress but that it will enable us together to embrace new visions for the mission of the church in our diocese.” Details of the sale have not been finalized. Last year, the property was valued at $4.8 million, said Mr. Blair. Revenue generated from the sale of the property would be used as endowment for ministry and mission in the diocese which would focus on youth, camping and Christian education, said Archbishop Stavert.


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