Father Janíček in 1994 Named after the Holy Hostýn pilgrimage shrine in eastern Moravia (http://www.hostyn.cz), Hostýn camp was founded in 1954 by the Czech Jesuit P. Bohuslav Janíček S.J. (1919-2002). Father Janíček's goal was to provide an affordable summer camp for the children of Czech and Slovak immigrants. For the camp's first year, Father Janíček rented a piece of land in the Laurentians' forest near St-Calixte. The 25 children that participated in the camp slept in tents for the five weeks the camp lasted. The following year, in 1955, Father Janíček bought 23 acres of the land. Then, he started to build permanent summer camp facilities with the help of volunteers such as the Štrbáňek family, Magdalena and Josef Janíkovi, Milan Bojsa, and others.
That year, they built the main building with a kitchen and rooms for the cooks. Then, on May 9, 1955, the camp was put under the administration of the Czechoslovak Welfare Association, a charity organization. In 1956, the volunteers were able to complete the dining room, and in 1957, electricity was installed, a well was dough, and running water was made available in the kitchen.
For the first few years, both children and counselors slept in tents. Then, in 1959, cabins began to be built, gradually replacing tents for lodging.
The cabins each held three beds, one wooden table, an electric light, and a shelf above each bed. The cabins were built in two circles of 11 at different locations, one group for girls and the other for boys. Two additional places were added for counselors. Near each group of cabins, an activity hall was built.
Father Janíček in 1994 with one of his Slovak friends, Mrs. Štrbáňek
In the girl's part of the camp, a little church was built, consecrated to Mary Svatohostýnska. Father Janíček from the province of Saskatchewan brought the bell for the church and was consecrated on August 11, 1961, by Father Bishop J.A. Papineau from the town of Joliette. This consecration was the first annual gathering in the name of Mary Svatohostýnska, a gathering which has been held since and is known today as the annual picnic. For various reasons, the date of the gathering varies slightly every year. Nevertheless, the summer camp continued to have great success, with about 140 children attending it yearly. At first, the children were mainly from Montreal, but later, children from Cleveland, Chicago, Toledo, Toronto, London, Hamilton, Windsor, Ottawa, and even New York, Texas, and Sweden began participating. After the so-called 'velvet revolution' in 1989, the Czech Republic and Slovakia children also attended the camp. These children are now grown and have a Tribute to the Father webpage.
The camp was also visited by some important clergy people like cardinal Josef Beran and cardinal Tomáš Špidlík, which attended the 50-year celebration of the camp in 1999 (see picture).
In front of the girl's activity building in 1999, From the left: Ivan Strážnický, Jiří Horák, Marta Strážnická, Father Janičík from Slovakia, Mrs. Štrbáňová and cardinal Špidlík.
In 1992, Father Janíček decided to retire and donated the camp to the Loyola High School because he thought that the camp's attendance was falling too much. The Czechoslovak Welfare Association was also shut down. Unfortunately, after doing a few repairs, the new owners, a group of Montreal Jesuits, soon abandoned the camp. The camp was left unused and in a state of disrepair until the foundation of the Hostýn Association in 1997.
Birth of Hostýn Association, I.N.C.
In 1992, the Hostýn Camp was donated to a group of Montreal Jesuits because of Father Janíček's retirement and a decline in the number of children participating. The traditional annual picnic continued to be held yearly on the camp's site. People noticed the camp's bad condition during those gatherings and were disappointed. Father Janíček also realized that the camp was not being cared for and began negotiating with the Jesuits to get the camp back. On December 5, 1997, the Hostýn Association was founded to support the moral, intellectual and spiritual development of the Czech and Slovak people.
The Hostýn Association took control of the Hostýn camp from the Jesuits on April 20, 1998. Volunteers worked hard in the first years to restore the abandoned buildings. The camp was used as a recreational facility for families and hosted several special events per year.
There was no plan for a children's summer camp until 2002 when the Toronto Masaryk Memorial Institute (M.M.I.) closed its summer camp and decided to work with the Hostýn Association to create a Hostýn summer camp. The M.M.I. took care of the finances and provided children and counselors. The Hostýn Association repaired the camp's facilities, built a new shower and toilet building, and took care of the cooking and camp direction. The first camp not under Father Janíček's direction was held in the summer of 2002 and had great success. In the following years, the camp was also near its total capacity (66 children at one point). In addition, a new private beach was bought for children's use in 2003 on Lake Lafond.
We hope to continue offering summer camp and community activities for many more years.
A hut in the forest built by children in 2003
Anyone wishing to donate for the camp's maintenance and improvement can do so on the Online payment page.