A HISTORY OF THE SOCIETY
Handed down from our honoured camping pioneers we have inherited the "art of camping". In 2013, the Society of Camp Directors celebrated its forty-forth Anniversary. The Society was formed in 1969 for the purpose of "directors of children's camp establishing themselves as a profession in the field of child welfare". Dr. Harry Ebbs made this statement in March 1959, to the then president of the Ontario Camping Association, Mr. Bertram Danson, in a letter following his presentation to the O.C.A. Conference, held at the Royal York Hotel on March 1st.
The idea of forming an "academy" spread to the American Camping Association and a Task Committee, chaired by Mrs. Douglas Haskell, A.C.A., Stanley Michaels, president of A.C.A., Fred Rogers, and three Canadians; the late Dr. Don Smith, president of C.C.A., Lorne Brown and Dr. Ebbs. In 1963 A.C.A. finally turned down the recommendations, but the proposal was revived in Canada in September 1967 when Dr. Ebbs accepted the chairmanship of a committee to be appointed by the O.C.A. president, John Latimer, "to establish a Society of Children's Camp Directors with suitable entrance requirements for the purpose of establishing high standards for persons who control children's camping".
On November 29, 1967, an O.C.A. "Open Meeting" was held. The eighty-four persons present tackled three questions, one of which was, "Should Camp Directors be accredited?"
The questionnaire demonstrated that 'the majority of present directors have an amazing amount of experience and background education which encourages the formation of a professional society'. (from the report to the O.C.A. Annual Conference, March 9, 1968.)
In December 1968, the O.C.A. president John Latimer called a meeting of all camp directors interested in forming a Society of Professional Camp Directors. Twenty-one persons were present, fifteen indicated interest but were unable to attend, and seven did not reply (a total of 43 persons had been contacted because they had shown interest previously). There followed a meeting, December 5, 1968, at Labbett's home, chaired by Mr. Cliff Labbett. Three temporary committees were formed: I. Steering Committee: Cliff Labbett (chairman), John Gilchrist, Ralph Raymer, Harry Ebbs, Stan Wild (Secretary). II. Programme Committee, to plan a meeting January 17 - 18, 1969 at Holiday Inn, Hwy #27: Harry Ebbs (Chairman), Jack Pearse, Elsie Palter, and Bill Babcock. III. Forms Committee (for application for Membership): Elizabeth Raymer (Chairman), David Palter and Keith Smith.
The minutes of this meeting were sent to 45 directors, of these twenty-five attended the two day organizational meeting of the proposed Society of Camp Directors. Following this a ballot to elect an interim committee was sent out, the result of which was announced to the next meeting, February 21st: elected were Harry Ebbs, Ron Johnstone, Cliff Labbett, Elsie Palter and Jack Pearse.
At the O.C.A. Conference in March 1969, the interim chairman of the Society, Cliff Labbett, made a presentation giving the historical background which led to the forming of the Society and applications for membership were invited and applications were circulated. The final selection was made by membership committee, and these recommendations were presented to the Board for final approval. It is interesting to note here that already the Society was extending its base geographically to approach members from outside Ontario, in consultation with the other Canadian Provincial Associations. The membership fee was set for $25.00 which covered initiation costs and the price of two dinner meetings per year.
The Founder's Dinner was held on May 21st, 1969 at the Rosedale Golf Club, with Cliff Labbett in the chair. Sixty-two members signed the Scroll of which five were named Honourary Life Members: Misses Mary S. Edgar, Ferna Halliday, Mary Hamilton, Mrs. Ethel Statten and Mr. Charles F. Plewman. Nominations for a new executive were called for and an election was held: Dr. J. Harry Ebbs, president: Dr. Elsie Palter, Mr. Cliff Labbett, Dr. Bruno Morawetz and Mr. Ron Johnstone.
Currently the Society has over 120 members, and continues its work to establish and maintain high goals for persons who influence children's camping.