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Change Your Life...

Co-operative Young Leaders
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Co-operative Young Leaders (CYL) is located at the Co-operative Education Centre (CEC) on the grounds of the Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Dairy museum. Located near Aylmer Ontario, the site is surrounded by 98 acres of Carolinian forest - a truly serene, safe and inspiring place to play, create and collaborate! The camp is run by the Ontario Co-operative Association (OCA), which designs and provides a variety of co-operative education opportunities for youth and adults, as part of its mission. Thousands of young people have participated in the camp since its inception in 1967, thanks to all the amazing organizations that have supported it over the years.


Empower youth by equipping them with the change-making tools and skills they need to succeed in the world. Participants develop self-confidence, learn from inspiring guest speakers, and have fun with traditional camp activities!


Being a volunteer facilitator at CYL is an incredible professional development opportunity, and a chance to further your own leadership and communication skills by engaging the minds and hearts of the next generation of co-operative leaders. 


Your support helps us provide youth with valuable life and career skills, while gaining important knowledge about the

co-operative sector. There are many ways to support the program through a sponsorship.

The Benefits of CYL...

As the world goes through so much change and upheaval, what better time is there for young people to get together in a safe and non-judgemental environment, have some fun, build their self-esteem, and share their experiences? CYL builds leadership and communication skills, encourages a co-operative mindset and values, and helps youth develop an understanding of the world around them, thereby opening many doors for them both personally and professionally. It truly is a life-changing experience like none other, and its 56-year history is a testament to its success!

The Benefits of Summer Camp...

A summer camp provides a safe environment for youth to develop social skills, decision-making skills, and experience the great outdoors. In fact, socialization during your youth will accomplish more for growth and development than any form of technology could ever deliver.  

Develops lifelong skills

Camp is a great way to acquire skills that will benefit youth throughout their life, such as social and communication skills, while instilling a greater sense of responsibility for themselves and those around them. 

Teaches teamwork & co-operation

At camp, youth learn to work with others in a team, recognize team members for their contributions, and encourage those who are traditionally left behind in a group setting. This fosters both tolerance and inclusive practices and behaviours.

Fosters independence & growth

Being away from home creates independence and builds confidence. Campers learn more about themselves, and are valued for who they are and what they contribute to the world around them. 

Encourages a connection with nature

Camp is learning about how to respect our environment, appreciate nature, stopping and taking the time to learn about nature and breath in the fresh air.

Creates time for play and fun 

Traditional camp activities like swimming, campfires, crafts and games all have an element of fun, and encourages youth to make new friends -  and more importantly, participating in screen-free activities! 

Builds community & purpose

 Through camp activities, youth develop a greater sense of community and an inclination to make a positive impact on the world around them. Community involvement gives youth a sense of purpose and belonging.

Supports healthy living

Camp programs encourage healthy eating and physical activity. Providing youth with opportunities to participate in all kinds of fun, physical activities at any skill level, is a great way to encourage positive habits into adulthood. 

Builds resilience

Camp provides the opportunity for youth to face challenges, and practice overcoming them. The value of effort is instilled, helping youth believe in themselves and develop confidence as they overcome challenges with determination, patience and a drive to succeed. 

Make a Donation

Your gift to CYL will help us provide opportunities for youth to develop leadership, communication and teambuilding skills, while instilling in them co-operative values.  

Our secure on-line donation page makes it easy and worry free to donate by e-transfer or credit card. If you prefer to send a cheque, please mail to: Ontario Co-operative Association, 30 Douglas Street, Guelph, Ont. N1H 2S9. Kindly indicate that this is for a donation to the Co-operative Young Leaders Program. Please note that at this time, we are unable to issue tax receipts.


"As a facilitator, CYL continues to fill me with awe as I watch youth transform in one short week. Over the years I have worked with our youth and seen the changes take place; I have seen the unsure step forward; I have seen the loner group; I have seen the uncaring move to compassion, and I have seen the sure add empathy. I go and facilitate and always come away with life lessons taught to me by our youth. It is an experience for our youth and our facilitators." 

Longtime Facilitator and Program Supporter,

Michael Barrett, CEO, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative


Director, CYL

Carol Fleming (click for bio)


519-763-8271 x. 25



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