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Youth walking at the grounds of the Co-operative Education Centre in Aylmer Ontario


Co-operative Young Leaders (CYL) is a leadership camp that takes place 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 produces and provides a variety of co-operative education opportunities for both 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!

Youth participants being creative and having fun during a camp activity

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.  

Camp develops life-long skills in youth

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. 

Camp develops skills in youth

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. 

Camps provides lots of time for fun and play

Creates time for play & 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! 

Camp focuses on good health

Supports healthy living

Camp programs promote 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. 

Camp focuses on team-building skills

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.

Camp focuses on community-building
Camp activities take place in nature

Connecting with nature

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.

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.

Camp builds resilience

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 and a greater understanding of the world around them.  

Donations to CYL can now be made through Co-Unity Education Co-operative and qualify for a charitable receipt.  To learn more about Co-Unity visit or donate directly below. 

Camp Fire


As a long-time supporter of the Ontario Co-operative Association’s CYL program, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative is pleased to express our gratitude and endorsement for this exceptional youth leadership program. As a proud sponsor and home of the CYL camp at the Gay Lea Co-operative Education Centre (CEC), Gay Lea Foods has had the privilege of witnessing the positive impact on the young minds enrolled in this youth leadership program. The commitment to nurturing and developing the next generation of leaders is evident in every aspect of CYL.

Gay Lea Foods firmly believes in investing in the future, and the CYL camp provides a valuable platform for young individuals to discover their potential and channel their energy towards making a meaningful impact in their communities. The program actively encourages participants from diverse backgrounds to participate, creating a rich tapestry of experiences and perspectives that enrich the overall learning environment.

Gay Lea Foods is proud to be associated with a program that is shaping the leaders of tomorrow and making a significant contribution to the development of our youth.

Corporate Secretary/Executive Director of Member Relations

Ove Hansen

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