Camp Eagle Nest

Camp Eagle Nest aims to provide wilderness and arts camps for children and youth based on cultural knowledge and leadership of Anishinaabek and other First peoples of Canada. We organize opportunities for healthy active outdoor fun and provide employment training in the wilderness camping and Native Arts sector for at risk groups including First Nations youth. We were founded in 2012 and work with numerous associates in the Native community who are willing to be retained for their provision of cultural content in our camps. We have a head office in Cartier, Ontario, north of Sudbury and a base camp in Founder Clyde McNichol’s ancestral land in Benny just a 15 minute drive north of Cartier.

Founders:

Barbara and Clyde McNichol

Board of Directors:

  • Art Petahtegoose
  • Rodney Bowes
  • Jacqueline Ronson
  • Bruce McComber

Mission Statement:

The goal of Camp Eagle Nest is to develop arts and wilderness education camps that improve First Nations cultural literacy for all, and provide employment training for at risk groups including First Nations youth. Through carefully organized canoe camps of 3-10 days length and year-round cultural and educational programming, we provide the experience, knowledge, self-confidence, and qualifications needed to find careers in the wilderness camping, Native arts, and outdoor education sector. Our mission is to give intergenerational groups opportunities to enjoy themselves in a wilderness setting in a safe, healthy way, and provide recreational, artistic, and educational programs throughout the year that improve Native cultural literacy and lead to careers and lifestyles closely connected to the land. We collaborate with elders from the traditional territory where we travel and work and we strive to learn, follow and model the Creator’s original instructions, continuing guidance, and seven grandfather teachings of respect, honesty, truth, bravery, humility, love, and wisdom.

We aim to provide a safe, stable, nurturing intergenerational setting where individuals can gain knowledge and respect for their history, culture, and natural environment. We assist young people in their learning journeys so that they can mentor others in the future with teachings that might otherwise be lost. We engage elders to tell stories and teachings and demonstrate skills as a part of the programs we develop. We seek elders who are willing to be called upon for further guidance and knowledge after the end of our programs. We are devoted to ensuring that the next generations have the knowledge and skills to live lightly on the earth, be happy in creation, and stay in harmony with nature.

We seek balance in physical, mental, social and spiritual domains through medicine wheel teachings. We also seek harmony and truth within the three founding cultural “pillars” of our country as broadly speaking can be described as English Protestant, French Catholic, and First Nations-Native spirituality.[1] We do this in part by making special effort to reach out to Indigenous youth who may no longer have opportunities to learn their rich heritage due to misguided assumptions of the dominant powers, and to all youth who might otherwise inherit fallacious assumptions about First Nations peoples and Canada.  We want to help create a generation of leaders who have the resources and skills to guide all Canadians in right relations to one another, to the Creator, and to the land.  We are committed to working hard, learning continuously, and having fun.

[1] As described by John Ralston Saul in his best-selling book, A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada, (Toronto: Penguin Books Ltd., 2008) and others. 

We offer a unique model of cultural camp:

  •  Camps for children and youth are relatively small (typically 6-8 campers per week) and feature games such as archery and snow snake tournaments, balloon darts, relay races and small, fun competitions with prizes as well as typical wilderness activities such as canoeing, swimming, hiking, craft-making, story-telling, songs, skits, and open-fire cooking.
  • Participants experience something of Native culture and its distinctive world view. Behavioural guidelines emphasize medicine wheel teachings and the seven grandfather teachings of respect, honesty, truth, bravery, humility, love, and wisdom.
  • Love for nature and all the plant and animal families in the area is nurtured.  Participants are encouraged to play a role in the protection and restoration to health of the lands and waters in the area with the assistance of outside experts and other potential allies. 
  • We create employment training opportunities in wilderness recreation, regeneration and arts fields and do what we can to ensure campers can enjoy long, fulfilling lives living lightly on the earth.
  • Esteemed elders with traditional knowledge are involved. They usually assist with opening and closing ceremonies, and make themselves available to answer questions campers may have about Native culture and history and other areas of interest. They also ensure campers can come to them with questions of a personal nature, both during camp and after they go home. Our Elder associates agree to provide an ear for campers who need support for personal issues between camps.
  • We can provide custom-designed camps, with activity and workshop options ranging from Native craft-making to four-colour and medicine wheel teachings, and other offerings from diverse associated elders and youth leaders. 
  • Participants may sleep in a tepee on mattresses made of fragrant spruce bows or similar natural soft bedding and furs as in the old way.  In colder weather, a fire pit in the middle of the tepee can be used as well as an out door cook fire for all seasons. Our sites also have at least one cabin with a wood stove and/or fireplace and beds or cots.
  • Intergenerational groups and opportunities are encouraged in all seasons.  Our camps currently have as a target at least 50% children and youth of Native ancestry but are open to all.  Adult family members are ordinarily welcome to come as volunteers, especially with the younger children. This option is considered important for children of families who have been affected by Canada’s Indian Residential School Policy (as have almost all Native families in some way).  It may also be important for non-Native families and groups who wish to improve their historical and cultural knowledge. Such family volunteers can assist with the  responsibility of site managers for child supervision, care and safety.

  Program options include:

  • Hand drum making
  • Medicine bag making
  • Native flute making
  • Beading
  • Dream catcher making
  • Hikes 
  • Medicine Walks
  • Canoe camps
  • Archery and snow snake tournaments
  • Tepee pole harvesting 
  • Tepee teachings and more!

Who Are We:

Camp Eagle Nest is an Anishinabek organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors the majority of whom are from First Nations.

Art Petahtegoose, elder and former Chief of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, serves as President and Chair.  He is a retired professor from Cambrian College where he provided specialist services in Anishnawbek Culture, Environmental Science and Community Planning. He served as an elder and advisor with the Canadian Institute for Health Research and North Shore Tribal Council and served as councillor or chief of his band council for twelve years. He was a key contributor to the Assembly of First Nations Declaration: We Are Nations, and Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms related to Aboriginal Rights.  He was raised in a home with parents who were not subjected to traumas of residential school and were able to pass on the customs, practices and ceremonies that served the people for centuries.  He is committed to passing on this cultural knowledge to the younger generations.

Clyde McNichol, Executive Director, belongs to Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and grew up in Benny north of Sudbury. After completing high school, he devoted himself to learning his culture through elders in the Toronto area and on the pow wow trail while working for a variety of employers, and starting and running three businesses. He is an accomplished artist and artisan who works in a variety of media.  In 2012 he returned to his ancestral land in the Benny area and started Camp Eagle Nest with his wife Barbara. He earned his ORCKA canoeing certification in 2008 and has training in First Aid and conflict resolution.

Barbara McNichol, Executive Assistant, is a trained teacher with experience at the high school, adult education, and university levels, and expertise in health promotion, educational theory,  English, history, and Native Studies. She is also an experienced, researcher, project manager, and conference facilitator. She earned a Ph.D. in Education at University of Toronto in 1994. She then served as a consultant at Quantum Solutions Canada for four years; as Fellow of the Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto for five years; as Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Acadia University for two years; and as an Assistant to the Director of Aboriginal Studies/Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, University of Toronto for three years. She married Clyde in 2007 and together they founded Camp Eagle Nest after moving with him to his ancestral land in 2012. Her love of the out-of-doors and camp life was nurtured at Stoney Lake near Peterborough where she spent all her summers growing up. As a student, she spent her summers as a camp counselor at Glen Bernard Camp and Camp Outlook where she also served as Summer Camp Director. 

Jacqueline Ronson, one of Barbara's three daughters, serves as Secretary of the Board.  She lives in Cowichan, BC where she works as a free lance journalist, having completed a Masters of Journalism degree at UBC, and several years of work for the Yukon News.  She was an active participant of the Queen's Band throughout her undergraduate years at Queen's University and held the position of Head Dancer in her final year.  She completed a ten week placement in Baker Lake, Nunavut as part of her final assignment in her program of specialization - Development Studies. Her passion for wilderness activities and way of life came from summers and Stoney Lake and Glen Bernard Camp initially. She also plays guitar, sings, and keeps involved in the Canadian folk music scene.

Rodney Bowes is a designer and photographer whose career has transported him through generations of music innovation, across continents, and through diverse music genres. Born in Santiago, Chile and reared in London, England, Bowes relocated to Toronto, where he graduated from Ontario College of Art and Design.  Throughout the 70's, Bowes traversed the punk rock ephemera of both Toronto and New York City through his camera lens. He is best known for photography of The Ramones, Debbie Harry, Teenage Head, The B-Girls and the Viletones. He continued to design album art for the following three decades, garnering diverse clients like Lou Reed, Pink Floyd, Rush, David Bowie, Shania Twain, Nickelback, Estee Lauder, HMV, Warner music, Blue Note Records, Elvis Costello and many more. Rodney Bowes Design still flourishes after four decades of great design before its time. He recently moved from Los Angeles to Campbellford, Ontario near Stoney Lake where he has summered all his life. He lives with his wife Tracey Reid-Bowes who has relatives at Georgina Island First Nation. He enjoys spending time with their dogs and motorcycling in his spare time. Rodney has been a volunteer Board member since the camp first opened.

Bruce McComber is a Laurentian University student in the final stages of his degree in Indigenous Social Work. He has Anishinaabe and Mohawk ancestry and has lived in Sudbury most of his life. He is widely known on and off campus for his activism for his people, knowledge of history, strategic thinking, and for his ability to navigate the current federal, provincial, municipal and First Nation political scene. He enjoys spending time with his nieces and nephews and family as much as he can. Bruce serves as a Board member at large.

 

Our 2015-2016 Annual Report:

Other Reports and Documents:

 

Contact Information:

65 Spencer Ave.Box 104, Cartier, ON P0M 1J0 (across street from train station)

E-Mail: campeaglenest [at] gmail [dot] com

Telephone: 705-690-3844