What started out as a simple canoe trip has evolved into something much more meaningful for Bill McBay and, he notes, the entire community.
In fact, what is now the annual Family Fun Weekend has led to the formation of the area’s newest service club. The festivities planned for Aug. 20 and 21 at the West Montrose Family Campground mark the first big event for the Kin Club of Woolwich and its president, McBay.
The weekend features a carnival for the entire family, a car show, movie nights under the stars, a silent auction, raffles, a casino, a gourmet barbecue, and live music all day Saturday provided by local musicians.
The Woolwich Kin Club was chartered on June 20, but this event goes back much further than that – in fact, the club started because of Family Fun Weekend.
Ten years ago, McBay organized 10 father-and-son/daughter pairs to canoe down the Grand River. He collected enough money for two days of canoeing, but when rain forced them to cancel the second day, the group decided to donate the rest of the money to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kitchener-Waterloo. The following year, he organized the same trip, this time with the charitable donation in mind.
“My wife was a Big Sister and her Little Sister was a big part of our lives,” he explained. “We saw there was a huge need there, so we approached Big Brothers Big Sisters and started raising money just for the kids.”
The event, which has undergone two name changes in the past decade, continues to grow. At first known as the Big Person, Little Person Canoe Trip, it became the Family Camping Weekend before its current incarnation as the Family Fun Weekend.
Last year’s event was so big, McBay and the rest of the organizing committee decided they needed some help.
They looked into the Lions Club, the Optimist Club, and the Rotary Club, but decided that the Kin Club provided the best fit – so they chartered their own club, and now have 28 members.
Their goal this year is to raise $20,000 to help support the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. This is the third year of a five-year pledge to raise $125,000 to help rebuild Anselma House, a shelter for abused women and their children in Waterloo Region.
And they really need the community’s help. The downturn in the economy, and last year’s poor summer weather, meant many of their sponsors and public support dried up. As a result, they’ve only managed to raise about $23,000 in the past two years, a long way from their goal.
“I hope people will come out and … acknowledge that it’s a community event. It’s just down the street from Elmira; you can come out for the whole day and have a good day.”
The Family Fun Weekend is at the West Montrose Family Campground, located at 6344 Line 86 in West Montrose.