Its always a proud moment when a Project D.A.R.E. alumnus reaches out, unsolicited, to extend their gratitude for our program and particularly to the exceptional cast of instructors that make the experience a transformative one. Even decades after, participants’ positive experiences continue to resonate. Below are a few letters we have received highlighting the impact of Project D.A.R.E. on individuals and families. Feel free to share your experience – we look forward to hearing from you!
Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education published an article in Winter 2019 written by a past student in the Project D.A.R.E. program, supported by one of our exceptional frontline instructors. Here’s a link to the article: https://projectdare.com/wp-content/uploads/Pathways_31_2.pdf
I spoke with [my son] Wednesday evening. (I’m tearing up as I write this…) […]. It was the first time in YEARS where I heard my son talk about dreams and goals. The first few times we spoke, he talked about wanting to leave there and how unhappy he was…well that all changed. There was nothing negative in his voice! He sounded happy!!! He was cracking jokes, being charming and sweet, and was so optimistic. I have no idea what you or your team has done- but thank you. Even if it doesn’t stay this way, just having that one conversation with him meant the world to me. I wish I had it recorded! I was doubtful that this would work. I’ve tried everything offered and nothing has impacted him/helped change his direction. This is the first time I’ve had hope :) I’m not sure if you could ever understand just how much that means to me.
C.S. – Parent 2018
“I never thought I could find help anywhere until I found out about this program. I do have to admit when I first showed up I wasn’t into it I didn’t think anyone could help me or even understand me… I really miss the staff there they helped me out a lot… man were they great people to talk to …thank u guys still to this day I use the skills I learned from there and they work they really do and I still trip to this day lol good old Project DARE.”
J.B. – graduate, 2013 (sent 2014)
“The time that I spent there has left a life time impression on me and memories I will carry for ever…I strongly believe that Project D.A.R.E. was the foundation to the building blocks that got me to where I am today. Miigwetch (Thank you).”
J.G. – graduate, 1980 (sent 2014)
“I went to Camp DARE from St Johns Training school in Uxbridge Ontario. I was there for about two months. I still remember a lot of camp Dare. I remember one canoe trip in July it actually started snowing. That was an experience.”
D.G. – graduate, 1980 (sent 2014)
“The work was tough, emotional and draining in every sense. (Your staff) were amazing. Supportive, energetic when needed and a calming gentle hand to hold us and guide us. …We appreciate your investment in our son’s rehabilitation process and in our family’s renewed sense of hope.”
T.D. – graduate (sent 2013)
“I was in the custody program about 6 years ago now. I wanted to thank you and all the other staff for everything. You guys have a special way of connecting with people and getting even the most closed off people to open up and overcome their fears and personal issues. I have so many great memories and experiences from up there… You all would be please to know after I left your program I did great. I got home and things were better then they ever were.”
D.H. – graduate, 2007 (sent 2013)
“I was at Project D.A.R.E. in 1976, I was in with the first group of girls there. I see it’s only for males now, why is that? I think of all the things I did there and am very proud of my accomplishments. Just wanted to say hi and Thank-you.”
Anonymous – graduate, 1976 (sent 2013)
“My name is J.L. and i guess you could say that Project D.A.R.E is my old alumni. More like I was a troubled kid and spent 4 months as a member of “Thrush’ in 1979.I hailed from Regent Park in Toronto and was deemed by the courts as pretty much lost to the system. Some of the things i saw and learned there stayed with me and helped to better serve me in my on-coming years.I continued to get in trouble with the law afterwards, but things were never quite the same. Eventually,i got my life together, went back to school and received a degree in English and started a family of my own based on the exact opposite of my family life, as well as some of the values i learned… I can only hope that the work you do there is as important as ever.I know the first 2 weeks of regular routine there drove me crazy, but eventually structure and regular wilderness scenery took over and i learned to like it.”
J.L. – graduate, 1979 (sent 2012)
“I would like to give you an update on A.B.’s progress since returning home 2 months ago. Without a doubt there have been so many improvements in his behaviours and attitudes. We have an undisputed reduction in stress, including in his own! He continues to mature and grow… I believe we see him differently, too, which adds to his successes.
He is not the strongest student but he is up to speed in all his classes and every teacher LOVES (him). I specifically asked about behaviours and everyone said there are absolutely no behaviours! He is a great student to have in the classroom.
Apparently he has been very vocal about telling his teachers and peers about his experiences at Wendigo Lake and they have all been very interested to listen. He is proud of what he did there…Thank you will never be adequate but we want to say it anyway – a sincere thank you to each one of you for recognizing (our son’s) potential and nurturing and directing his life. We believe he really is a happy person now.
I apologize for this lengthy note – as you can see we are grateful to each of you for the part you played in A.B.’s success. ..At anytime, if you need someone to sing the praises of Camp Dare, please call on us – we could write a symphony :)
God bless you all as you continue to take on what for some may seem like the impossible. We believe!”
S.B. – parent of graduate, 2012
“How are things going up at DARE? I am sorry that i didnt contact sooner things have been very busy around here. I just wanted to let you know that i am doing well and that i am on track to finish my highschool next year. I fell a few times after i left and used again but i remembered what you told me about it not being the end and how it doesnt have to escalate to my old situation and i found the strength to get back up. I am clean even though it is there for me to use. I dont need it anymore and i want to give you and the entire staff team all the thanks i can for helping me find my potential and let go of my past. Tell the staff team that i say Hello, thank you, and i miss you guys. I look forward to hearing back from you.”
K. H. – graduate, 2012
“This program saved (my son’s) life. I cannot stress how great this program was for him – it gave him his life back – his self-esteem, belief in himself and his morals are strong once again. It put him back on the right path again – I am very grateful to the wonderful staff and to him for buying into it and working hard – Thank you”
T.S. – mother of graduate, 2011
“We wanted to extend our sincerest thanks to all who were involved in the care of D.B. It was with deep sadness and great trepidation that we sent him to your program in sept. What we quickly learned was that the program became like a second home and that that staff were extremely nurturing and caring, and he was able to develop some very close relationships. We believe that all of you are hero’s. To spend the energy and time caring for kids who are at risk takes an incredible group of people and we firmly believe that your program offers this… Thanks to each and every one of you for choosing a field that has such benefits to the future of these youth.”
D. & R.B. – parents of graduate, 2011
“Please tell everyone i say hey and im doing good, i got a job working in a factory,and studying for my g.e.d test, i just wanna say thank you… for helping me with my anger,ive noticed that i dont get mad anymore, and if i feel the anger coming on i take a drink of water and breath. i can honestly say that pd changed my life for the better, you and all the staff helped me a lot and i would just like to thank you all for that.”
D.H. – graduate, 2010
“You guys changed my life in ways I can’t even explain, before I went to camp dare I didn’t like anybody with authority my teachers my mother any body that told me what to do, half way before my stay was over my mom and grandpa came to see me and right away could tell a difference, I was smiling, looking them in the eyes when I talked and told my mom for the first time in years that I love her. You guys changed my whole life I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for camp dare and the amazing staff. Thank you camp dare for making me a better person and son I LOVE ALL AND YOU’LL ALWAYS BE IN MY HEART.
I was wondering if you could forward this to all the people that worked with me while I was at DARE.
I’m currently working full time for the local co-op, I’m in the process of applying for an assistant manager spot and applying for a spot as a corrections officer (ironic I know). I’ve grown a lot since I left you guys. I moved out of my mom’s house at the beginning of October and my relationship with my mom has gotten a lot better. We see each other a few times a week and we haven’t had a fight for a long time (a few months before I moved out). The distance has really helped our relationship.
My time at DARE left me with some funny stories to share with my friends, as well as a lot of serious ones.
I having a hard time putting what I feel into words. I learn’t a lot while I was at DARE and it has really helped to shape me into the man I am now. I’ve had many talks with my brother (we’re actually brothers now, not enemies who are forced to live together) about how I’ve grown and how you guys (and gals) helped me.
Once again thank you for how you all helped me.”
A.K. – graduate, 2011
“I was at Camp D.A.R.E. in the summer of 1985 for three months where I was received as a rebellious child with a very big chip on my shoulder. …I can tell you that over the years I would reflect upon my adventures and misadventures in the program, and these reflections always seemed to bring a smile to my face. As the years have passed and I am now an active businessman in this challenging world, I can’t help but recall all the memories of my time spent at D.A.R.E. and I am convinced that the time spent was exactly what I needed. I was taught to respect others, respect myself, the land, and to work as a group while maintaining a positive outlook towards the future. Not an easy task to teach ten troubled kids from all over the Province.
I would like to compliment the program itself, but also the counselors who with great patience and certainty helped mold the man I am today.
One key thing I have learned is that respect is something we should all show each other, the land we are fortunate to live on and those who have put themselves in a place to help others heading down a troubled path.
My sincere appreciation goes out to counselor C.E… She was absolutely unconditional in her approach to help us. As were all the other counselors but she was very special to me.
Anyway, I just read some of the testimonials from past students and felt I would like to share my thoughts with you. Please feel free to post this with my utmost respect and admiration.”
C.C. – graduate, 1985 (sent 2009)
“I was a student at camp D.A.R.E. aprox. 27 years ago.I often think of my time spent at the camp,as one of the most challenging and rewarding times of my life. I am now 42 years of age and have my own company have been with my wife and her 3 kids for over19 years. For some reason the camp crept back in to my mind and I thought I would look on line to see if I could find something. Seeing some of the pictures brought back so many memories. I don’t quite know why I am writing this letter, I guess I wanted to let you know what a impact your program has on ones life. I don’t remember much from that long ago but I remember camp D.A.R.E. like it was yesterday.
Keep up the great work you are changing kids life.
T.R. – graduate, 1982 (sent 2009)
“I was a graduate of project dare back in 1981 and I thought it was the best thing that ever happens to me in my life. It got me turned around.
Thanks keep up the hard work.”
J.R. – graduate, 1981 (sent 2009)
“I was in Project DARE in I think 1986 or 1987. At 46 now I can say that I have thought about project dare in a positive manner all my life and still remember all the good times there out in the wilderness. I remember the canoe trips, jumping in the lake after we cut a hole out of the ice, making an outdoor sauna, learning how to use compass, and all the outdoor adventures as well as school, I still use some techniques to this day. Four main counselors I recall very well […] but I can honestly say that they have all made a difference. THANK YOU.”
M.L. – graduate (sent 2015)