Our history

"What does Wilvaken mean?"

Probably our most commonly asked question on arrival day – by both parents and campers. Wilvaken is a made-up word, yet it is not a made-up feeling. It’s a combined word, putting together the names of the founders: Dr. Ken and Mrs. Val Willis. With that in mind, Wilvaken has always been a place with a family atmosphere, inviting newcomers to join the Wilvy family, and all it has to offer.

Being a member of the Wilvaken family means that you are a part of its history.

Now in its third generation of directors in the Willis family, let’s discover Wilvaken’s story…

Where it all began…

Wilvaken was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ken and Mrs. Val Willis, with the idea that a camp is the ideal place for children to grow and develop in a natural environment.

This idea has been continued into the second generation by Dave Willis and his wife Maya since the mid-’80s.

In 1958 Wilvaken opened as a boys’ camp with 12 boys, the main lodge, a couple of cabins and a wonderful beach on a lake almost unknown by the local people. The camp has 100 acres which are divided by the lake. One side is kept natural and used for overnight camping trips or excursions, while the other is the main camp site with all the buildings and equipment. Along with the property on either side, we have an island and peninsula that help give the camp its natural look.

In the 1960s the camp expanded and became a co-ed English camp. The international flavour became a major part of Wilvaken as there were always campers and staff from different countries spending time here. All the cabins built at Wilvaken have been named after different countries, in keeping with the international theme.

To this day we welcome campers from all over the world!

Where do our campers come from?

Where are we now?

Camp continued this way till the mid-1980s when Dave and Maya took over. When the camp changed hands, it was decided to make it officially a bilingual camp so that both French and English children could benefit from living and learning together. Wilvaken has kept its original spirit over the years and hopes to continue that way.

Read more about the directors