A cast of many to plan and run U of T Camp

A last-minute scramble to clean newly built facilities at U of T Camp, prior to the arrival of students, the morning of Saturday, August 14, 2021. (Photo by Phill Snel)

For over a century U of T students have been making a summer pilgrimage to cottage country as part of their course CME 358, known as Civil And Mineral Practicals (CAMP). Last year’s start of the worldwide pandemic saw the cancellation of the beloved event for 2020.

The annual August trek for Civil & Mineral Engineering third-year students to U of T Camp always takes some planning and preparation. This year, however, the hurdles to overcome safety concerns and pandemic protocols took a great deal more coordination than usual.

Besides the professors and instructors present at Camp, on Gull Lake, near Minden, Ont., many others have worked to ensure a safe return to in-person classes for all those involved. Planning and preparation began months before, with an optimistic view the province would allow overnight camps come the summer.

As we all now know, the path to ensuring a safe in-person experience at Camp has not been easy and is ongoing. The following people are some of the many who made Camp possible for 2021.


Brent Sleep, Chair
Leadership from the top comes with the responsibility to coordinate with many other individuals and groups. The countless meetings, as well as diplomatic efforts, resulted in a successful plan and execution of Camp for 2021.

Loreto Caprara, Director of Technical Services
Charged with the monumental task of logistics to supply Camp, Loreto Caprara set out not only to source the usual needed gear, such as a surveying equipment, but also PPE. He sourced rapid testing kits, N95 masks, eye protection and a large array of disinfectant dispensing paraphernalia.
A few days before the first students were to arrive for Camp 1, Caprara drove a load of supplies to Camp himself, ensuring a full supply of PPE was pre-staged at the site.



Finance and Administration

Michelle Deeton (Supplied)

Michelle Deeton, Director of Finance and Administration
George Kabanov, Financial Manager
Mirna Eljazovic, Financial Assistant
Fannie Yu, Financial Administrative Assistant
Diane McCartney, Administrative Assistant

Everything runs, of course, on funding, so logically everyone in the Finance and Administration Office held a part in preparing and running Camp.

Some highlights from the Business Office, as listed by Michelle Deeton, the Director of Finance and Administration, are: catering, new boats and the team effort on all the bits and pieces.

Catering – through 2019 – 2021 we worked on a tender to purchase three-years worth of catering.  There’s a new catering for 2021 – 2023 and the reviews for the new catering have been fabulous. The tender evaluation committee include Prof. Karl Peterson and Loreto Caprara.

Selling and buying boats – we sold two boats and bought a new one.  Procurement, trips to Service Ontario, getting letters from Governing Council, Transport Canada licensing – working with the marina on delivery. With tremendous input from boaters Professor Emerita Brenda McCabe and Prof. Lesley Warren.

Tara Nelson (in Prof. Warren’s group) and Diane McCartney did a lot of the purchasing of supplies, including many COVID testing kits. Plus Mirna Eljazovic has reviewed all those expense reimbursements for items people bought for Camp. George Kabanov paid invoices and Fannie Yu helped with the payroll for Camp.

Student Leadership

Civ Club
Civ Club held a live information session online, the week before Camp 1 was set to depart, for all participants. The live Q&A event helped to fully answer questions for students.


New Buildings at Camp

Kian Zehtabchi, Project Manager, Capital Projects – U of T
Mike Carere – Property Manager, Facilities & Services – U of T
Lisa Neidrauerformerly with U of T, University Planning
Prof. Emerita Brenda McCabeFaculty & Project Lead
Tom Saint-Ivany
, Director, Facilities & Infrastructure Planning – FASE
Mike Moro, Nick Moro and Scott Giroux  – Morosons Construction, General Contractor
Terence Van Elslander & Davide Gianforcaro, V+A Architects

A photo from U of T Camp on Gull Lake, near Minden, Ont. on Saturday, August 14, 2021. Newly built facilities, include the HCAT Bunkhouse (right), MacGillivray Student Lounge (centre), as well as new washroom and showers. (Photo by Phill Snel)

The new HCAT Bunkhouse, MacGillivray Common Room and new washroom facilities were ready for Camp 1 on Saturday, August 14. The long-term project was launched with a ceremonial ground breaking September 2019 at Camp, with actual construction beginning during the pandemic the summer of 2020.

Just over a year later, the flexible-use facilities assisted in the physical distancing, and separation, of the participants. With six separate bunkrooms, each with two separated spaces, have made it possible to create smaller cohorts of roommates as part of pandemic protocols to safeguard the health of campers.

In addition to the new buildings, also included in the new infrastructure was a new state-of-the-art sewage treatment system.

With the new insulated facilities, it might be considered more as “glamping” than camping now. Take a tour of the new buildings.

Environmental Health and Safety

L to R: Andrey Shukalyuk, Genalyn Lo and Irene Tang. (Supplied)

Andrey Shukalyuk, Health and Safety Advisor – FASE 
Genalyn Lo, Occupational Health Nurse, EHS
Irene Tang, Joint Health & Safety Committee Manager , EHS

The combined efforts of Environmental Health and Safety professionals within the University and the Faculty allowed for planning and ongoing support. Andrey Shukalyuk was instrumental in providing assistance with planning the protocols required and General Assessment Tool (GAT). Irene Tang provided the loan of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to CivMin for the duration of Camp. Genalyn Lo held continuous involvement with health & safety assessments and ensuring U of T & public health protocols are followed. Currently she is leading the COVID-19 contact tracing management and acting as the University’s Public Health Liaison.

Troost ILead

Prof. Patricia Sheridan (left) and Albert Huynh on Saturday, August 14, 2021.. (Photos by Phill Snel)

Prof. Patricia Sheridan, Associate Director, Undergraduate Curriculum and Albert Huynh, Leadership Education and Curriculum Coordinator

For the first time ILead (Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering) held a workshop for students at Camp. The session delved into teambuilding exercises and methods of establishing mutual trust in work groups.

Some creative license with plastic building blocks, with students assigned to different roles, made for an exercise in conveying how important communication is with project management and teamwork.


Cleaning Crew

Cleaning crew (L to R: Tammy Alton, Debbie Sisco and Beatrice Alton take break outside of the new bunkhouse U of T Camp on Gull Lake, near Minden, Ont. on Saturday, August 14, 2021. (Photo by Phill Snel)

Tammy Alton, Debbie Sisco and Beatrice Alton

What in the past was routine daily cleaning, has turned into thoroughly sanitizing many high-touch surfaces multiple times a day. The usual rigour of  cleaning was heightened by the new requirements for preventing the spread of COVID.

Kudos to the cleaning crew for Camp 2021.




CivMin IT

Derek Boodoosingh, Computer Network Manager; Matt Wong, Service Coordinator; Dave Seto, Computer Systems Administrator

CivMin IT staff (clockwise from top left): Matt Wong, Derek Boodoosingh and Dave Seto. (Photo by Phill Snel via Zoom)

The entire CivMin IT team prepared student and faculty laptops for Camp well before the instruments left the St. George campus.

Additionally, as an unseen component to most, the IT team lent expertise to the CivMin Shopify store set up specifically for this year’s Camp. A special shoutout to Matt Wong for unscrambling some unforeseen issues.

Student Services Office 

Nelly Pietropaolo, Director of Student Services (along with husband Domenic Pietropaolo)
Shayni Curtis Clarke, Undergraduate Student Advisor
Rebecca Logan, Communications Assistant;
Phill Snel, Communications Officer

Nelly Pietropaolo with her homemade chocolate chip cookie bars. (Photo by Phill Snel via Teams)
Shayni Curtis Clarke. (Photo by Phill Snel viaTeams)

Nelly Pietropaolo took on the unenviable task of organizing students into their various camps, but sent a bit of herself to Camp too. Each student received a gift pack of a CivMin mug with a card and a serving of homemade cookies from Nelly too. As well, Pietropaolo personally saw students board their bus for Camps 1, 2 & 3.

Shayni Curtis Clarke coordinated with the undergraduate CivMin students to ensure all who needed CME358, in order to fulfill graduation requirements, attended Camp.

Rebecca Logan and Phill Snel lent a hand with rapid tests prior to bus boarding for Camps 2, 3 and 4, as well as coordinating logistics via online spreadsheets, questionnaires and more.


Camp Kitchen Staff

Bonnie Kubica, Head Chef; Amanda Harrison, Cook; Lachlan McLellan, Prep Cook; Henry Hackbarth, Prep Cook

Kitchen Staff 2021 (L to R): Bonnie Kubica, Amanda Harrison, Lachlan McLellan and Henry Hackbarth. (Photos by Phill Snel)

Similar to creating a battle plan, a white board in the kitchen outlines the week-to-week schedule and dietary needs of those attending Camp. Tackling the challenges, and embracing the opportunity, the team delivers delicious options daily for their diverse audiences.

An additional complexity, dealing with overlapping arrivals and departures of students, saw the solution of providing boxed lunches to departing students so new arrivals could be greeted with a hot lunch.

Watercraft Maintenance

Chad Grimbly.

Chad Grimbly, Sturgeon Lake Marine Repair

The “boat guy” puts the boats (Sir Veyor and Morning Star) in the water for Camp and takes them out to transport for winter storage. He also fixes anything on the boats  – like adding second gas tanks and attaching fish finder aerials, as well as trawling motor.




Site Management

John Sisco, Site Manager
Scott Loughnan, Site Maintenance

John Sisco (left), Site Manager at U of T Camp and Scott Loughnan, Site Maintenance. (Photos by Phill Snel)

Ongoing maintenance at U of  T Camp involves so many complex systems, including an independent water filtration system providing on-site potable water, which are largely unseen by most who visit. As part of fire prevention measures there are fire hoses throughout the grounds, all feeding from the lake, with a dedicated pump at the shore.

Preparing for the arrival of students had an added twist of relocating beds to the new HCAT Bunkhouse. The new buildings have added more complexities to the existing facilities, including new plumbing and weeping systems for the added bathrooms and showers, but John and Scott are handling the challenges superbly.

Instructors, Teaching Assistants & Research Technicians:

James Arrey (PhD Candidate), Wenxi Liao (PhD Candidate), Felicia Liu (Research Technician), Jad Saade (MASc Candidate), Jody Scott (PhD Candidate), Lauren Twible (PhD Candidate)

(L to R): James Arrey, Wenxi Liao, Felicia Liu, Jad Saade , Jody Scott and Lauren Twible. (Photos Submitted and by Phill Snel)


Professors Evan Bentz,  Jennifer Drake, Karl Peterson, Lesley Warren

Professors (L to R): Evan Bentz, Jennifer Drake, Karl Peterson and Lesley Warren. (Photos by Phill Snel)

Finally, of course, are the students to be recognized. For it is without their presence Camp would not be held. Everyone turned out to Camp with at least one vaccination, some with a PRC test, and with a tremendous amount of fortitude.

Enduring a pre-entry rapid test, then multiple more rapid tests at Camp, combined with ever-present protocols to socially distance and constantly wear a mask, created more of a mental demand than had been required over the previous century of Camp.

Thanks goes out to this incredible cast of many, who together allowed Camp to go ahead this year.

~ CivMin