Camp Loon off to Fantastic Start

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Master Corporal Donny Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation dances on the opening day of Camp Loon.
Master Corporal Donny Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation dances on the opening day of Camp Loon.
Junior Rangers enjoy cooling lake waters in high temperatures.
Junior Rangers enjoy cooling lake waters in high temperatures.

By Peter Moon

CAMP LOON – The annual Camp Loon for Junior Canadian Rangers from across the Far North of Ontario recovered quickly from a slow start caused by bad weather delaying the arrival of some of the Junior Rangers.

The Junior Rangers fly to the camp on chartered aircraft from 25 remote and isolated Cree, Oji-Cree, and Ojibway First Nations from across the Far North of Ontario.

“Unfortunately the weather delayed some of our aircraft,” said Captain John McNeil, the Canadian Army officer who commands the Junior Rangers in Northern Ontario. “So we got off to a little slow start this year. However, when all the Junior Rangers hit the ground at the camp it was a fantastic go. We were able to make up some of the training for those that missed it so, all in all, all of the 141 kids at the camp will receive the training that we proposed.”

Junior Canadian Rangers react to a fast boat turn.
Junior Canadian Rangers react to a fast boat turn.

Camp Loon provides a range of training activities that are not normally available to Junior Rangers in their small home communities They include specialized instruction in first aid, shooting (both rifle and paintball), boating (power boats and paddle canoes), driving all-terrain vehicles,  mountain biking, archery, and traditional arts and crafts.

The Junior Rangers are a national youth program run by the Canadian Armed Forces for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in Canada’s remote and isolated regions. There are 1,000 Junior Rangers in Northern Ontario.

Master Corporal Donny Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation dances on the opening day of Camp Loon.
Master Corporal Donny Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation dances on the opening day of Camp Loon.

“We’ve tried to transition away from classroom learning at the camp to more hands-on learning,” Captain McNeil said. “It keeps them invigorated and more active. They stay active and enjoying themselves until we put them to bed. They are having a good time, learning, meeting people, and making new friends.”

Junior Canadian Rangers, Canadian Rangers, and military support staff gather for Camp Loon's opening ceremony.
Junior Canadian Rangers, Canadian Rangers, and military support staff gather for Camp Loon’s opening ceremony.

The camp, he said, is helped greatly by the support it receives from Geraldton and the Municipality of Greenstone. The army is provided with free storage space for sea containers, gets its drinking water from the Geraldton Fire Department, and qualified lifeguards for the evening swimming program.

A washout on the logging road from Highway 584 to the camp was repaired with the assistance of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  “Without that assistance,” Captain McNeil said, “we faced a 90-minute diversion if we had a casualty we had to get to the hospital in Geraldton.”

On the camp’s first day Junior Rangers spent a morning cleaning the graves of veterans in Geraldton and placing Canadian flags in front of them.


(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)

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Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Canadian Rangers are army reservists who provide a military presence in Canada's remote and isolated regions, including Northern Ontario. They provide skilled assistance in emergencies such as searches, plane crashes, forest fires, and floods. They also operate the Junior Canadian Rangers, a youth programme for boys and girls aged 12 to 18.