Camp Nokomis (formerly Bellaleo) is on Belwood Lake in the Grand River system; the Grand River opens into Belwood Lake at the town of Belwood and empties back into the Grand River flowing south through the town of Fergus. The camp land is leased from the Grand River Conservation Authority.
The Etobicoke-Queensway Lions Club opened the camp in 1957 and operated Bellaleo right up until 2001; the camp was closed in 2002 as Queensway Lions could no longer fund a project as big as this. Enter Lakeshore Lions, who re-opened Camp Bellaleo in 2003.
George & Norah Petrie 1957-1969
Les & Marg Watson 1970-1990
Peter & Nancy Allan 1991
Jay & Vicki Haddad 1992-2011
Jay & Vicki Haddad, Senior Directors 2012-Present
Zak Haddad 2012-Present
CAMP BELLALEO 1957
When Jay and Vicki Haddad were hired as Directors, one of the conditions was that Bellaleo apply to the Ontario Camping Association to become an accredited camp. After two years as a Provisional Member, Camp Bellaleo was fully accredited in 1995 and remains an accredited O.C.A. camp to this day. In 1992 the camper age was 6-13 years and that age has been increased to 7-16 years.
As well, Camp Bellaleo has an active - and competitive - Counsellor-In-Training Programme where young people go through a two-year leadership apprenticeship experience before hopefully becoming a paid leader. We take approximately 10 males and 10 females per summer now for the C.I.T. Programme.
In 1992, all 6 Counsellors doubled as Activity Leaders and campers signed up each day to attend activities of their choice. Bellaleo now focuses on the "cabin-group experience" and each group of 8 spends almost the entire day together along with the Counsellor and C.I.T. who live in the same cabin (separate quarters) with their campers.
The Cabin names changed in August of 1994 from 1 through 6, to Cree (youngest), Ojibwe, Mohawk, Algonkin, Chippewa, and Iroquois (oldest). The cabin groups have meals together and go to activities together and iron out difficulties together and there's an incredible bond that develops over a 14-day period.
Campers do get to choose some of the time: once a week we offer a sign-up day and include some fairly eclectic offerings: yoga, inukshuk building, aqua-fit, orienteering, boating rides, hiking to the reindeer farm, story time, henna body painting - as well as our usual: swimming, canoeing, archery, creative games, basketball, soccer, arts & crafts and games.
Lakeshore Lions oversaw Camp Bellaleo until the new Mastercard Centre (four-pad complex) was completed in early 2010; lacking funding from Lakeshore, Camp Bellaleo was closed. The parents, alumni, Queensway Lions and Behind the Scenes Services initiated Camp Nokomis (Ojibwe word for "my grandmother"). Camp Nokomis ran its summer camp, L.I.T. program and school groups out of Bancroft (2010) and Mansfield (2011).
John Cherrie, Past-President of Lakeshore Lions, approached Camp Nokomis on September 1, 2011 about reuniting Camp Nokomis with the idle Bellaleo site. Through negotiations and discussions among Nokomis, Lakeshore Lions and Grand River Conservation Authority, Camp Nokomis is thrilled to be "home" at the Bellaleo site for 2012, and beyond
As well, Lloyd Hartley, Director of Volunteer Services for the Home Depot (Etobicoke), is organizing a KABOOM for May, 2012, which will involve Home Depot (Milton) and Home Depot (Guelph) and approximately 200 volunteers to repair and restore the Bellaleo site in order to be functional for June 2012. Welcome home, Camp Nokomis!!