Antoinette Taranets standing in front of Lake Rosseau at Muskoka Woods.

Catching Up with Former Muskoka Woods Guest and Employee Antoinette Taranets

Found in: Stories

For many, summer camp evokes memories of sun-drenched days, lifelong friendships, and transformative experiences. For Antoinette Taranets — Twon to those near and dear — Muskoka Woods is all that and more. Having spent years as both a guest and an employee, Antoinette’s connection to Muskoka Woods runs deep. From forging enduring friendships to stepping into leadership roles, her journey at Muskoka Woods has been nothing short of life-changing.

In the Q-and-A below, Antoinette reflects on her cherished memories and discusses the profound impact that camp life can have on young people. She also highlights the vital work of the Muskoka Woods Youth Foundation, emphasizing the importance of giving back to ensure future generations can share in the magic. With the 45th anniversary event, WoodsFest, on the horizon, Antoinette shares her excitement about reconnecting with fellow alumni and celebrating the camp that continues to shape lives. Check out her inspiring story, and discover why Muskoka Woods remains a beacon of hope, leadership, and community.

You spent many years working in a variety of roles at Muskoka Woods. Camp memories are currently being made by the next generation of staff. What were some of your favourite experiences as an employee?

As I look back at my years on staff, there are two key life experiences that stand out to me: the friendships I made and the opportunities I was given to lead. I am so fortunate to still consider some of my trailermates, co-counsellors, and bosses as friends! The depth of the friendships you create while on staff are so special and I am so thankful to still call them friends to this day! I can’t go anywhere in the world without making a connection back to Muskoka Woods, and that is something powerful about the reach of this place! Muskoka Woods was the first place I was called a leader and I was given the opportunity to be in a leadership role at the age of 19 — not something most young people can say! I think giving the chance to young people to live up to the expectations of roles with a lot of responsibility deeply changes the trajectory of many lives.

How did summer camp, in your experience as a staff member, benefit the kids who attended?

All kids deserve the best, and Muskoka Woods aims to give that to them at every turn. Muskoka Woods is a magical place for kids because of the importance of giving kids a safe place to be themselves where they aren’t being graded or compared on ability. Kids get to explore the activities they like, their beliefs about the world and God, and most importantly, who they want to become. Staff support them along the way, and those key mentorships help inspire confidence at every age. It’s a beautiful experience for all involved!

You’ve been a long-time donor of the Muskoka Woods Youth Foundation. Why is it important for you to support the foundation?

Muskoka Woods changed my life. I’ve been a guest, seasonal staff, and full-time staff member, and each of those experiences have helped shape me into who I am today. It’s incredibly important to me that Muskoka Woods continues to be able to be a safe place for many to explore their beliefs and gain the mentorship they need in order to grow into leaders.

WoodsFest, our 45th anniversary event for current staff, alumni, former CEOs, Foundation and Schools and Groups connections, and more, is happening on August 10th. What are you most looking forward to at the event?

Having spent half of my life in different roles around camp, I am most excited about reconnecting with fellow Alumni, my former campers and visiting the camp property! There’s nothing like the feeling of driving through that gate, anticipating the activities, connections and fun about to be had — plus, there will always be some sizzle to surprise you!

Your gifts change the course of lives for young people who attend Summer Camp. The investment you make not only creates new opportunities and possibilities for them, but will echo through generations as they return home and influence their friends and family. Give today.

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