The First Breaths of Spring Awaken Camp Schlegel at Shady Pines

Residents, team members and friends roll up sleeves for spring cleanup

Arnold George was raised on a farm in the sprawling countryside north of London, Ont., near the village of Lucan. He was brought up to know the value of hard work, never shying away when someone needed a hand because in the countryside, helping out a good neighbour was simply part of everyday life.  

Team members in a golf cart at Shady Pines Cmpground
Arnold George with some of the Glendale Crossing team
members at the Shady Pines Cleanup day April 19.

So when on April 19, not even a week after moving into The Village of Glendale Crossing, Arnold was asked if he wanted to help with a Spring cleanup at the Shady Pines Campground outside of Ailsa Craig, he was happy to put on his work clothes. Shady Pines, where the three brothers who own and operate Schlegel Villages once played together as boys, is mere kilometers from Arnolds’ boyhood farm. It felt good, he said, to be out in the fresh air with the scent of the springtime soil all around.

The Schlegel family, whose intention is to create a camp where people of all ages and abilities can experience the comfort of nature, bought the 110-plus acre property last summer. There are sites with trailers that have been a summer haven for families for generations and there’s plenty of room for growth, says Bernie Burnett, who was brought in to manage the property shortly after the Schlegel Family bought it last year. Bernie envisions accessible cabins and yurts to house campers with mobility concerns, and paths through the woods along the winding creek that will guide young and old alike to the best fishing holes in the area.

Camp Schlegel at Shady Pines will be for all who are part of Schlegel Villages and the cleanup day that brought nearly 50 residents, team members and friends from five villages together alongside Arnold, created a sense of connection to these grounds. Teams cleaned up debris left behind after winter’s throws under maples planted by Wilfred Schlegel, grandfather to Rob, Brad and Jamie. Wilfred’s kind nature and dedication to community were passed through his son Ron to his grandsons, and the camp is another way they hope to honour his legacy.

A capital campaign is now underway through the Schlegel Foundation to raise funds in support of the infrastructure upgrades required to make the grounds wholly accessible, but on April 19 this was a distant vision. This day was about coming together to start with the simplest of steps – the equivalent of opening the windows on the first nice day of spring to air the place out. Seeing residents involved reminded Bernie of the wonderful possibilities that lie ahead. 

“The neat thing for me was getting to know the residents on a first-name basis,” Bernie says. He points to a resident named Peter, who came from the Village of Riverside Glen and immediately let his good humour fly.

“He came in and started joking so I joked back and suddenly we’re best friends,” Bernie says. “When residents come in it’s just a lot of fun, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Arnold says he’s looking forward to going back at the first opportunity; to work or to fish for trout makes no difference in his mind, for the outdoors, he says, is where he really belongs, and Shady Pines is the “perfect place.”