Hazy summer days by the lake. First loves and first kisses. New friends, and no parents as far as the eye can see. For those lucky enough, summer camp can be a formative and even life-changing experience. The chairs of the Intercamp Classic are working to make this an experience all Toronto kids can enjoy, even if their families may not be able to otherwise afford it. The annual event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward this goal, and this year’s fundraiser promises to be the biggest one yet.
Intercamp—a sports competition between rival camps—is often the climactic event of the summer, with bragging rights and camp pride on the line. In 2010, Josh Howard (along with co-chairs Noah Sliwin and Spencer Hoffman) saw an opportunity to recreate the Intercamp experience in Toronto, and organized a charity softball tournament to benefit anti-malaria efforts in West Africa. Twenty teams made up of campers, staff and alumni of various Ontario camps participated. The event had served as an unofficial camp reunion for its attendees, so it seemed only fitting that the next year’s funds go toward making the camp experience available to more youth. Howard has had plenty of opportunity to witness firsthand the impact camp can have on a child’s life; he grew up attending Camp Walden in Bancroft, Ontario, and his family runs Muskoka’s Camp Tamarack. “Obviously you have the ability to make friends and make memories, but you can really learn lifelong skills. Things like confidence, perseverance, self-esteem, social skills that you really can’t get in many other places.”
Since 2011, the Intercamp Classic has been a major fundraiser for Kids in Camp, a charity that provides need-based subsidies for children attending overnight, day, or special needs camps in Ontario. Howard estimates that his event has sent about 150 underprivileged kids to camp thus far, and he hopes to double that number this year. A total of 1700 players, spectators and volunteers are expected to turn out this May for softball, handball and flag football at the Powerade Center in Brampton. Teams compete on the field and off, with winners named in each sport and also in funds raised. Howard and his team of co-chairs, who have been joined by Elissa Grossman and Jennie Howard, hope to raise $175,000 for Kids in Camp this year.
This isn’t Grossman’s first rodeo; she met Josh Howard when the two worked on the charity event Jam 4 Israel, raising funds to open a summer camp for at-risk Ethiopian youth in Israel. Of the Intercamp Classic, she says, “People feel loyalty to their camp and they want to play for their camp. And at the same time, they really feel passionate about this cause, because they can relate to it. They went to camp, they had the amazing experience, and it’s really easy for them to say, ‘I want to be able to help a child, and give them that experience’” The 2013 Intercamp Classic presented by Fred and Linda Waks takes place Sunday, May 5th. Register your camp’s team or donate at www.intercampclassic.com.