From the Principal

A legacy of student initiative

From The Principal Hero

Photograph by Bernard Clark

In this issue of the Alumni Review, Greg McArthur writes about the Queen’s Journal as it celebrates 150 years of student writing, reporting and critique. Founded in 1873, the Journal is amongst the oldest student-run newspapers in North America, and as Greg observes, it has become Queen’s “secret” school of journalism, over the years training countless students in the required skills and professional ethics of the field. Many have gone on to build distinguished careers: their work fills the pages of publications in Canada and abroad, and their voices are everywhere present in broadcast media.  

For anyone who has worked or studied at Queen’s it is easy to take for granted the exceptional initiative, energy, and commitment of our students – their powerful self-motivation and independence. But occasionally – as now, in pondering the history of a paper founded, run, and funded by students for a century and a half – it is important to pause and admire what they have achieved. One might say the same thing about the Alma Mater Society itself, the oldest student government in Canada, founded in 1858. In fact, much of the strength of our university is derived from the activities, institutions, and clubs that students, by their own prompting, have built within it. 

I was privileged recently to join in celebrating 53 years of Camp Outlook, an enterprise founded by Queen’s medical student Ron Kimberley in 1970. Beginning with a belief that wilderness experiences could help address the psychological and social challenges experienced by young people at risk, Camp Outlook deployed Ron’s classmates as leaders and began taking young people from the Kingston area on challenging summer canoe trips, mostly to Algonquin Park. Even more vital today, the project takes about 140 youth into the wilderness for programs in the fall and winter as well as the summer. Readers may recall an article on Camp Outlook appeared in these pages in 2020. 

Speaking to a group including board members, past camp leaders, members, and alumni, I was proud to note how this student-led initiative anticipated by many decades the university’s formal commitment to community engagement as a strategic priority. In conversation after my remarks, some present seemed not uncomfortable with the idea that Camp Outlook could be thought of as Queen’s “secret” school of social work – or one part of it, at least!  

Like the Journal and the AMS, Camp Outlook commands admiration because of the way in which it brings highly motivated students together in service to a larger cause, educates and empowers them to be of service to society, and provides enjoyment and a positive social experience in the process. At the event, I did take note of two other things: one, that the project clearly inspires intense loyalty and commitment, and two, that today Camp Outlook attracts volunteers who are not necessarily Queen’s students or alumni.  

In that last point there is an implication worth dwelling upon: namely, that our Queen’s spirit can have even greater impact when it is amplified by allies, supporters and partners who come from outside the institution. A commitment to collaborate is now declared in the university’s Strategic Vision. But the main story, reaching back into the past and linking these two anniversary events, has to do with Queen’s students and the characteristics we associate with them: their passion to achieve, their self-motivation, independence, and intellectual curiosity, and their determination to address the world’s most significant and urgent challenges.  

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The Queen's Alumni Review is the quarterly magazine for Queen's University alumni. Compelling stories and photos make it a must-read for all who love Queen's.

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