Remembering Bruce Hodgins (1931-2019)

By Barb & Peter Gilbert

While we were sad to learn of the death of our friend and camping colleague, Bruce Hodgins, it was uplifting to read the obituaries with details of his many accomplishments.  To his academic accomplishments and his leadership at Camp Wanapitei, we can add his significant contributions to camping in Ontario and indeed across Canada.

In the 60’s and leading up to the Centenary Journey in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s Centennial, Bruce was an extremely active member of the committee that organized campers in every province who paddled a section of a cross-Canada route, which the committee laid out from coast to coast.  Bruce’s expertise in Canadian history and canoe routes was a key to the success of this project.

In 1989, Bruce was a founding member of a committee whose purpose was to develop an annual writing award program with the objective of attracting academic papers relevant to organized children’s camping in Canada to the Camping Collections at the Trent University Archives. The Society of Camp Directors Writing Awards Program attracted submissions in both English and French from across Canada and the United States.  Bruce chaired this committee from 1996 to 2010. From 1996 to 2012, Bruce was also Chair of the OCA Archives Committee ensuring that camp records have a place in the Trent University Archives and can be accessed by researchers around the world.

From 2006-2009, Bruce chaired a committee that planned and executed the Ontario Journey to celebrate OCA’s 75th anniversary.  As a culmination of the event, The Ontario Journey, which recorded the various historical trips (hiking, sailing, kayaking, canoeing) taken by campers from many camps across the province, was published in 2009.

Bruce played a key role in setting up in 2013 the annual Canadian Camping Association/association des camps du Canada Prize for Excellence in Research competition which honours, celebrates and promotes excellence in research that contributes significantly to the growing body of academic literature relevant to the organized children’s camping movement in Canada.

In recognition of  his numerous contributions and leadership, Bruce received the Dorothy Walter Award of Excellence from OCA and the Jack Pearse Award of Honour from CCA in 2013.

Always thinking, always enjoying life to its fullest, remembering the past and looking to the future, a true believer in the value of children’s camping, Bruce will be remembered as a true camper and an example for us all.


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