Friends Helping Friends

Provincial park co-operating associations, or Friends groups, are community based, not-for-profit, charitable organizations which work to enhance the interpretive, educational and recreational programs of the park with which they are associated. Friends groups comprise of a volunteer board and membership. There are 26 Friends of Ontario Parks Associations, with over 2,500 volunteers. These Associations provide capital and/or staff for projects like trail development, publications, special events, children’s programs and research projects.

On September 25-27, 2009, the Friends of Killarney Provincial Park hosted the Circle of Friends Conference, which was attended by 58 representatives of Ontario Parks Friends Associations and staff from Ontario Parks. The conference, which was held at Killarney Mountain Lodge, saw representatives attend workshops which helped create a tighter network of support for the recreation and protection of Ontario’s valuable system of Provincial Parks. The conference featured sessions on “green” retail strategies, parks & tourism trends, strategic planning and leadership and fundraising principles.

According to Ron Speck, Partnership Development Specialist, Ontario Parks “This conference is designed to help the Friends Associations of Ontario Parks manage their operation, such as merchandising, fundraising, strategic planning, volunteer recruitment and managing special events. As well, this conference allows Friends to connect with one another, to share their successes, resources, ideas and future goals. It is absolutely invaluable.”

The conference wasn’t all work, as participants had a chance to learn about and enjoy the Killarney area. Pictured here are a group that hiked “the Crack” in Killarney Provincial Park.

In the next month or so, there are a couple of Friends events that people may be interested in:

Saturday Oct 18, the Friends of Pinery are hosting, as part of the Run Piker Series, a 5km and 10km road race, through the roads of Pinery.

Saturday Oct 24, the Friends of Pinery are hosting a Halloween Weekend. Events include campground trick or treat, bat box building, scare crow competition and owl prowls.

Nov 7,8,11,14,15, the Friends of Presqu’ile are celebrating the 18th season of Christmas at Presqu’ile, one of Eastern Ontario’s premier juried Arts and Crafts Shows. Free entrance to the park during the Show.

Proceeds from these events support individual Friends projects.

For these and other Friends events, as well as information on  Friends Associations, go to www.OntarioParks.com/english/friends.html.