This is a short excerpt taken from Seasons of Hope
, the autobiography of James Bartleman, OC OOnt, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
I'm most proud of my role in creating Summer of Hope reading camps on Ontario's northern First Nations. I began by obtaining the support of the First Nations themselves and used a grant from the Ontario government to fund five pilot projects. Scouts Canada, the YMCA, and Frontier College (Canada's oldest literacy organization) worked together to run them in the summer of 2005. The 200 campers and fifty staff loved the program, but at $100,000 per camp, costs in my opinion were too high and joint management by the three organizations too cumbersome. I thus came up with a model that cost no more than $33,000 per camp and turned the inititiative over to Frontier College to run. I then obtained funding from universities, teacher federations, trade unions, banks, power companies, and charitable foundations to support a five-year program in all twenty-six fly-in communities in the province. Frontier College did such a good job managing the program that the money I raised paid for six instead of five years of operation.
After I retired in 2007, Frontier College expanded operations across the country as First Nations everywhere embraced the program. In 2014, 6,000 campers in eighty-seven camps read an estimated eleven books each,
93 percent of teachers noted strengthened social skills, eighty-nine percent noted improved academic skills, and 89 percent of parents said their parents said their children read more because of camp. In 2015, 10,000 campers attended ninety-nine camps. Although summer reading camps cannot fill the gaps in programs provided by the federal government, they offer children the chance to dream dreams of a better life, just as I dreamed my dreams when exposed to the magic world of books when I was a kid.