Muskoka Woods Alumni Community. Embody. Encourage. Engage.
Summer 2016

I used to hate New Year’s celebrations. There was so much pressure to figure out what to do and where to go. The "most overrated holiday" was its assigned title. As I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve learned to appreciate the end of year festivities…and not just because I have eliminated some of the pressure by staying in my pajamas and going to bed at 10 p.m. New Year’s gives us a great opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and dream about the one ahead.

2016 was a fantastic year at Muskoka Woods. Our year-round ministry impact grew significantly, as we saw more students, teachers and weekend retreat participants come through our front gates. CITYCAMP had its biggest session ever, with 104 guests attending the John Knox site in Oakville. At the end of the summer, we baptized 27 staff at our Cadence service. Other memorable highlights were the successful launch of a new registration system, the Leadership Studio expanding to New Zealand, and hundreds of guests attending summer camp through our "send a kid to camp" program. Great things happened in 2016.

As we look ahead to 2017, we are excited to see what God has in store for us. Our heart is to welcome all youth. In June, we are opening our Sensory Garden, designed to give guests with Autism much-needed respite in the busyness of the camp day. This program has grown significantly over the years and we love that Muskoka Woods can continue to be a safe place for every kid that comes on property. There is so much more happening, but you’ll need to make sure you check out every detail of all the newsletters to catch the exciting developments. Muskoka Woods is "On the Move" and we can’t wait to see where it takes us.


Christina is the Guest Relations Manager at Muskoka Woods. She grew up in the Toronto area and came to work at Muskoka Woods during her high school years. She served in the Camp Store and as a J1 counselor. Christina attended Tyndale University and has since been living up in the Muskoka area for the last 15 years with her husband, Matt, and their two children, Madison and Malachi.


Andi (Smith) Gourlay worked at Muskoka Woods from 2004-2011 in a variety of roles in hospitality and programming including J1 counsellor, Tuck Supervisor, J1 Director and Program Coordinator. Mike Gourlay worked from 2005-2010 as a Golf Instructor, Golf Area Head, General Area Head and Athletic Director.

Andi and Mike were married in 2012. They live in Guelph, attend Grace Community Church, and host a weekly Bible study for past and current Muskoka Woods staff. Mike works at Hamilton Health Sciences as the Corporate Manager of the Medical Diagnostic Unit. Andi is a middle-school teacher in the Peel School Board, but is off for the year on maternity leave after they welcomed their firstborn son, James, in October.

"Muskoka Woods has been an incredible blessing in our lives. It is the place where we have some of our fondest memories and formed some of our deepest friendships. We cherish the fact that we still get to be a part of the Muskoka Woods community by hosting the weekly Project 52 bible study in Guelph"


Jay Whitelaw worked at Muskoka Woods for five summers, from 1997-2001, on Ski Staff, as the Ski Staff Area Head and as an Athletic Director. Jay and his wife Hannah got married in 2006 and live in Guelph, ON, with their 5-year-old son, Jackson. They attend the Meeting House in Kitchener.

Hannah works for Property Guys as their Business Development Manager for Ontario. Jay is the Executive Director and Founder of Givesome, a non-profit start-up that raises money for tangible projects through an app and shares video footage of every project once it is completed.

They have partnered with charities and companies across Canada and are connecting donors with the joy of giving. The free app will be released on iOS and Android in Winter 2017. Check out their site HERE.

"It's a blessing to have spent so many great summers at Muskoka Woods. It was a place of significant personal and spiritual growth. Many of the friends I met at the Woods are life-long friends and I enjoy popping in for a visit every summer and feeling so...old! Thank you Muskoka Woods, and long live Gwitmock."

Jay Whitelaw


We are gearing up for another exciting summer at Muskoka Woods!

Soccer and Leisure Sports have made their way out of the vault, and for the first time ever, we are introducing Musical Theatre. We are also continuing to improve our programs and activities, with the help of our Athletic Director, Daniel Simmonds, and Program Director, Lucas Durocher. It may be the middle of winter, but we already have 1000 guests who have registered for camp, picked their favourite activities, and are expecting to have the best summer of their lives. Daniel, Lucas and I are doing our best to make sure that happens.

Thank you all for your continued support in prayers and friendship.


Mike and Tina Barlow, along with eight Summer Staff, will travel to Romania in early May to work with orphaned children and those in elderly care centres. If you are interested in praying for our team, or wish to contribute financially, please click here.


In 2009, Muskoka Woods started sending a team of CEO guests to New Orleans to help respond to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. 2017 marks the 12th anniversary of the hurricane and yet there is still so much with which we can help. So, in March we are sending the largest group we have ever sent to date, with a total of 31 people, including 26 CEOs from this past summer! We had our first meeting in December and the energy is building. We welcome all forms of support including school supplies, hygiene kits, sponsorships, and, of course, your prayers are much needed. This is always a huge point of learning and growth for the CEOs, and our prayer is that God will do some amazing work in their hearts and the people we interact with in New Orleans. Regarding any questions, please contact Lucas Durocher at or call, 416-495-6960 x 353.


If you and your family are interested in volunteering this summer at Muskoka Woods, the deadline for applications is February 12, 2017. If you would like information about how to apply, please e-mail us at with the subject line “Volunteer Program”.


We are so thankful for a great fall season in the Leadership Studio. God has abundantly blessed us with ministry partnerships and deep friendships.

One story, name changed for his privacy, will give a glimpse into how He is at work. On his first visit to the Studio, Chris barely spoke or participated. On his second visit, he opened up a bit, but still would not share anything during the debrief of the inner critic work we had done. However, the next day, when I was least expecting it, this young man held out both hands as if holding something precious. In them was a crumpled piece of paper on which were written the words "Puny, useless, should not have been born. Dad".

These were his thoughts on the inner critic who lives in his head, influencing him every day. That same visit, he learned to drink tea - something he mentioned frequently and that represented, not only growing up, but also belonging, being part of us. On his next visit, he began to make cups of tea for others and serve them.

During his most recent visit this fall, he grinned when we asked him to make us a cup. In a few short visits, Chris had gone from the outside to the inside. From an observer to a contributor. From someone hidden to someone seen.

What an amazing reminder that God cares about every child and gives each one a special envoy angel (Matthew 18). What a privilege to partner with Him to bless kids. This is a work we can all do, wherever we are and whatever we do. May 2017 be a year when 100s of us make it a priority to bless 1,000s of kids in Jesus' name.


We would like to take this opportunity to update you all with what has been happening within the Muskoka Woods Youth Foundation. It has been a busy fall, and we have much to celebrate

We had a wonderful evening with the Masson Family at the Mackenzie's Hope Gala. Once again, the evening was transformed into a Muskoka-like setting and fun was had by all. The vision of Mackenzie's Hope was shared with family, friends and new supporters who all came to honour a brave girl. This program continues to impact many young lives affected by cancer, so we're so thankful for the $38,500 that was raised! Below is a comment that a recipient’s parent shared this past year:

"Thank you for creating these memories for my children, and sharing their stories with other children that have come face to face with cancer. In the middle of a storm we must have hope of another day, another smile, another rainbow. With heartfelt love and blessings, we thank you..."

In other news, the building of our Sensory Garden is on track to open for Summer 2017! Once again, this space will be for guests with Autism in our Exceptionality Program, and will provide them a place of fun, laughter and rest.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. Please feel free to reach out to me if you'd like more information on the Youth Foundation at 416-495-6960


Our University Small Groups are starting up again this month in the following locations: London, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

If you live in one of these communities and would like to know how you can get involved, please email with the subject line "P52"


Muskoka Woods entered two alumin teams in the Annual Roger Frey Hockey Tournament in Kitchener, Ontario on January 6-7, 2017.


Thanks to our seasonal staff who came out to our Christmas Reunion hosted at Capstone Community Bible Church on December 18th. It was an awesome evening at a beautiful venue, reconnecting with friends and reminiscing about 2016.


You can find our full-time opportunities here. If you have any questions, email Leslie at


We're looking forward to spring at Muskoka Woods and are hiring 68 seasonal staff to create an unforgettable experience for our Schools & Groups guests. We offer contracts starting April 2nd or April 21st. Please encourage young adults in your network to apply.

Apply online today. If you have any questions, email Theresa at


We have 348 positions to fill for our Summer Camp on beautiful Lake Rosseau. We are looking for amazing staff who want to bring Muskoka Woods programs and activities to life! Join us this summer for the experience of a lifetime.

Apply online today. If you have any questions, email Diane at



CITYCAMP is bringing eight weeks of summer camp excitement to communities access the GTA. This is a day camp unlike any other, located in the hometowns of guests and staff. The activities we offer rival those of the resort, including Spider Mountain, fun with food, bubble sports, laser tag, slip 'n' slide and much more. Check out for more details.

Apply online today. If you have any questions, email Anna at

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