In-Camp Program

Summer days in camp are filled with laughter, fun, tradition and learning

Summer at Pathfinder is for enjoying the activities and rhythms of north woods camp life. Morning activity periods are for instruction in core activities like swimming, paddling, ropes and camping skills. At afternoon "optionals" campers choose their favorites activities to attend. How about archery, kayaking, art, biking, fishing, climbing and ropes?

Swimming is an important focus. Instructional swim teaches Red Cross skill levels. 'Polar Bear' swim is a refreshing optional dip before each breakfast. Free-swim periods are offered each afternoon and evening.

The entire Camp joins together for all meals, and each evening, for one of many games and traditions unique to the Island. Evening Program ensures that the Camp as community is observed

Some of our camper experiences are unique to an Algonquin camp experience – working in the canoe shop, trout and bass fishing, Park ecology and low-impact woodsmanship skills (for all ages). Other popular Pathfinder Activities include: arts and crafts, tournaments, evening council fires and trip reports, Swim & Canoe Regattas, free time on the water (FTOW), scavenger hunts, 20-ft tower jumps at free swim, paddles around the island, hiking & biking day trips, capture the flag, and the ultra popular 'Treasure Hunt' and SURVIVAL game. 




Canoeing is a pillar program and mainstay of Camp Pathfinder. For Pathfinder boys, paddling is a lifelong skill and joy. Campers work on canoe skills for their age. Canoemanship leads boys to explore and venture throughout the Park and beyond on canoe trips.


Campers learn basic stroke work, rescues and safety on the water, advanced strokes and techniques, and for the older boys, whitewater paddling.



Kayaking is a favorite for campers of all ages. Campers new to paddling love the solo control of the kayak, and easy maneuvering in wind and waves. We have a choice of flat water kayaks (from Necky and Swift), sea kayaks and whitewater kayaks "play boats" (from Jackson Kayak) that provide endless paddling fun.


The play boats introduce our boys to the emerging world of whitewater kayaking. Senior boys can work up to introductory experiences on nearby rivers like the Madawaska and Gull, under expert instructors.


Additionally, Pathfinder has six new Bic SUP boards, which have added to the paddling excitement!

Ropes & Challenge 

Our Ropes and Challenge courses have been making a huge impact on camper skill and confidence over three decades at Pathfinder.


Pioneered here in the 1980s by owner Mac Rand and alumnus Gerry Taylor of Project Adventure, the Pathfinder Ropes course was redesigned in 2006 with Challenges Unlimited, including a massive rock wall, giant's ladder, pamper pole, zip line, and cat walk.


Just as important as the high elements are Pathfinder's low elements and staff leadership. The entire Ropes-Challenge program emphasizes teamwork, trust, and problem-solving as much as alpine climbing skills or pushing personal envelopes. Campers come away from each Ropes session with a renewed awareness of what a group of motivated people can accomplish.



Pathfinder has taught swimming and aquatics as a pillar program since her founding in 1914. Swimming at camp includes daily instruction, free swims, and 'soap baths' throughout the summer.


The program teaches campers with both Royal Lifesaving and Red Cross swim curricula. Swim games and meets, long distance swims, canoeing safety, aquatics and pre-lifeguard skills are all part of the experience.


Creating a lifelong safe waterman and swimmer is our goal here at Camp Pathfinder.


Sailing has made a come back to Pathfinder Island in recent years! Camp is currently equipped with five Sunfish and Laser sailboats, with full size and radial rigs. Campers learn how to rig the boats and sail both as crew and captain.


Summer 2019 introduced three new AA levels for sailing. When there isn't enough wind to get out on the water, knots and parts of the boat are practiced.


When Source Lake winds are challenging, campers enjoy learning to hike without falling out of the boat.


A crowd pleaser on both windy and calm days are capsizing drills, a skill that can come in handy once upper level sailors gain their confidence to take out boats without a staff.



A classic summer camp program that has always been a fun tradition at Pathfinder. Our archery program is set up for novice, intermediate and expert shooters. The range located on the back of the island is surrounded by the Algonquin woods.


Boys here work on their AA (Achievement Awards) and an array of fun shooting challenges.


Archery training for camp staff is conducted each June by former Canadian champion archer Bill Embury of Saugeen Shafts. Bill helps our counselors get archers off to a great start.



Algonquin offers smallmouth bass, speckled and lake trout, splake and walleye. We also catch far north fish on the long river trips our oldest campers take.


The staff all are asked to get their Ontario Fishing License in the beginning of every summer to ensure that we can catch as many fish as the kids are interested in and that it is all done legally according to Ontario Parks.


The fish in Algonquin are plentiful and while we can't always say the same thing for Source Lake, most of the time you will hear of someone going on a late afternoon or early morning troll and getting some laker at the last minute that was enough for three people.

Arts & Crafts


Arts & Crafts is located toward the back of the Island, behind the Rec Lodge.The shoreline and cedars offer great inspiration for artwork.


While at arts & crafts boys can work on various projects including dreamcatchers, trip journals, leather stamping, watercoloring, printmaking, and more.


Plus, they get to bring their masterpieces home to cherish for years to come!

Traditional Skills

& Earth Lore 

The practice of woods skills and appreciation of ecology and natural science at Pathfinder has been called many things over a century's history in Algonquin. At the century mark, we have brought a group of topics under the umbrella of Traditional Skills or "Trad Lore."


Trad Lore includes survival skills, map and compass, nature education, rope work and knots, shelter, fire, and open-fire cooking. • Earth lore has always been a big part of camp, and thrived under director Lance Kennedy in the '70s, '80s and '90s.


Earth Lore grew out of a Lance camper Chris Brackley, who brought a new method to teaching an appreciation of Algonquin in the 2000s. •


Both activities are available to all camper ages. They combine with canoeing and tripping in service to the idea that Pathfinder campers make a personal connection with the natural world, and are inspired to protect and preserve it through knowledge and low impact choices.



Pathfinder's very own canoe shop provides boys the opportunity to learn how work with their hands in a safe environment.


Campers can aid in canoe builds and repairs, design their paddles, work on small projects, and more. Whittling and woodwork is a favorite for our Pathfinder boys.