History and scouting fun meet at Camp Samac

Photograph by Kirsten Jerry

(From left) Dave Reid, 68, chair of the camp committee, and Jamie Lovell, 48, camp warden of Camp Samac in the board room.

“I was just flabbergasted when he pulled out money and gave it to me,” recalled Jamie Lovell, 48, camp warden at Camp Samac, a Scouts Canada camp in Oshawa.

Lovell remembered a generous act from someone impacted by Camp Samac when he went to pay for and pick up an order of pellet guns for the camp’s shooting range.

“There happened to be a gentleman there buying some guns as well,” Lovell said. “As soon as he overheard where I was from, he actually gave me money to pay for one of the guns as a donation.”

Lovell said the man didn’t want a tax receipt for his donation, he just wanted to help the camp because he had gone to Camp Samac himself as a child.

Camp Samac, as well as being a Scout camp, is full of historical significance for Oshawa.

Sam McLaughlin, who founded General Motors with William Durant, donated the part of Camp Samac’s property once known as Brookside Park, to the Scouts in 1943.

It officially opened on September 5, 1946. McLaughlin bought more property in 1963 from George James, a man who had an asphalt plant right next to the camp on the land McLaughlin bought. He purchased more land from a Ross E. Lee in August 1965, according to the book Camp Samac History by Robert Holden.

The main entrance to the camp is at 1711 Simcoe Street North. Camp Samac is the headquarters of the White Pine Council, which has territory along the border of Algonquin and from Pickering to Napanee. There are 20 councils involved in Scouts Canada.

While Dave Reid, 68, chair of the camp committee, doesn’t know where scouts went for their activities before Camp Samac was created, he recalls spending his time with the scouts in fields and provincial parks as a boy.

He is not the only one in Oshawa who was with the scouts.

“There are different companies, different individuals in Oshawa,” Reid said, “and they have fond memories of coming here as a kid.”

For example, Reid recalled going to get a pizza one day, when someone called out “Hi Lightning!”

Lightning was his camp name from when he was a beaver leader. The scout had grown up, but remembered his time at Camp Samac.

The scouts are divided into five groups – beavers, cubs, scouts, adventure and rover scouts.

Reid said, “Having fun and learning, at the same time, are the main objectives for all the groups.”

Camp Samac gets visitors from age 5-26 and from many places.

Lovell said groups have come from as far England and China to visit Samac.

“We’re probably one of the busiest camps in Ontario,” he said.

The camp is open year-round.

The camp’s pool, which is run by the City, is open in the summer. Campers can access the pool for free. There is also canoeing, a sports field, a chapel, hiking trails, cabins and tenting areas.

In winter, scout groups are able to rent cabins.

Leaders often plan activities in advance. Reid said the camp offers a “program in a box” for leaders. The program is complete with instructions and all the materials needed for the activity.

McLaughlin donated Camp Samac to the Scouts 75 years ago and the property continues to thrive today.