Author Archive

National Leadership Forum, November 2017

Posted on December 11, 2017 by Catherine Ross

In late November 2107, twenty-three Canadian camping leaders met for two days at Camp Elphinstone on the Sunshine Coast of beautiful British Columbia. The group included five recently-elected provincial Presidents and two newly-appointed Administrative Staff, all keen to learn and to share.

President Stephane Richard led us through a packed agenda, which included items of importance to every camp in Canada.

We celebrated our successes:

  • Working with Tactix, a lobbying firm, camps are now exempt from the Labour Market Assessment requirement and may hire temporary foreign counsellor staff.
  • Biannually, Tactix provides a federal and provincial audit of all anticipated legislation that could affect camps. This enables our industry to be proactive rather than reactive.
  • Stephane Richard and Donna Wilkinson ran a successful International Camp Directors Course for a maximum twenty-six participants at Elphinstone in November.
  • We now have five qualified Lead ICDC trainers, two of whom are bilingual, which will allow us to offer a bilingual course in 2018.
  • Gabrielle Raill, creator of the National Marketing Campaign, Thanks to Camp, reported that we have exceeded our goal for the number of camps participating in the first year while urging the camps that are not yet involved to get on board NOW! When the campaign was presented at the International Congress in Sochi in October 2017, it attracted international interest, opening up the possibility of revenue generation. The second phase of the campaign, More Than Just Fun, is on track to be launched in February, 2018.

We were invited to participate in two important initiatives:

  1. Dr. Laurie Browne, American Camp Association Director of Research, described ACA’s current groundbreaking Five -Year Impact Study, Research 360 and invited CCA’s participation as an oversample. The purpose of the study is to explore if and how camp experiences prepare youth for college, career and adult lives outside of camp. A decision to participate must be made by December 2017.
  2. Eric Shendelman, OCA President, attended a meeting of the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition and offered to share their October 2017 report with the NLF. To assist them in their task, Co-chairs, Lisa Hanson Ouellette and Dr. Steve Beerman are asking the CCA to provide data on their camps, campers and water based programs. Eric will circulate an online survey to the provinces to achieve this purpose.

We accepted a challenge:

A newly formed committee will seek alternate resources to enable us to continue to finance our programs and initiatives that benefit all camps. Marketing, research and lobbying have been identified as important national programs. With additional funding, we could accept the offer of the Quebec Camping Association to translate their newly created Emergency Procedures and Inclusion documents.

Michael’s Story

Posted on December 4, 2017 by Catherine Ross

Do you need a reminder of the tremendous importance of what you do as a camp director? Whether your answer is yes or no, I encourage you to read Michael’s story.

At thirteen, Michael, an indigenous teen from Parry Sound, Ontario, attended camp for his second summer with assistance from the Kids in Camp charity. Here, in his own words, is Michael’s story.

Dear Kids in Camp,

Michael Camp Wapun

Michael on a canoe trip at camp.

Hi, I am Michael. I am 13 turning 14 in September. I live in Parry Sound, Ontario and I am in grade nine. I used to live on Bear Island that is one island away from the summer camp I got funding for. Bear Island is a small community that was fun to live on. Going to camp this year was like going home. My camp is a canoe trip camp and you learn how to make campfires, chop wood, and cook on a fire. There are other things you can learn as you get old enough to do it, being a stern in a canoe, and doing higher levels of rapids. I made so many friends this year, like people from America (mostly from Ohio) and I saw my friends.

On my group’s first seven-day trip, we went to the second highest point in Ontario, Maple Mountain. My second trip was down the Temagami River, and my last trip was for 21 days, which was up to New Liskeard and then down to Wanapitei Lake – that’s near Sudbury. Then on our way back to camp we went cliff jumping- that’s when you jump off cliffs into the water- and my staff jumped off a waterfall and it was awesome. This summer I learned a lot about how to carry a canoe, and also to stern the canoe. That made me lose a lot of weight and gain muscle. I have never been in better shape, ever.

Camp is important to me because over the last two years I have been in a bad place with my friends. I think I would have gotten into a lot of trouble this summer if you guys didn’t give me the money to go to camp this year. At camp I am with kids that don’t get into trouble because we don’t have time to get into trouble. My summer was so fun and I thank you for making this happen for me.

Chi-Miigwetch [thank you very much]

CCA Past President Opens Enviro-Education Centre

Posted on October 30, 2017 by Catherine Ross

On September 30, 2017 the town of Sundridge, Ontario celebrated the opening of the Near North Enviro-Education Centre. The geothermal heated, solar powered, environmentally designed building is the vision of Jocelyn Palm, Director of Glen Bernard Camp where for years the campers have learned to “live lightly.”

The Near North Enviro-Education Centre, which took years to complete, is a testimony to Jocelyn’s vision, financial support and “persistence, perseverance and sheer determination.”

The participants at the ribbon-cutting event demonstrated Joc’s ability to build partnerships to get the job done. Lyle Hall, Mayor of Sundrige, Chris Ellis, Mayor of the Township of Strong, Norman Miller, MPP Muskoka Parry Sound, and Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs spoke about the three pillars for the project essential to the viability of our rural communities: environmental sustainability, rural economic sustainability and social diversity. Doug Dokis, representing the local indigenous peoples opened with a prayer of thanks in Ojibway and a song in Blackfoot to bless the building.

The mission of the NNEEC is “to help empower rural communities to become models for sustainable living by providing access to education, information and hands on learning opportunities focused on these pillars.”

To learn more, visit the Centre’s website at

CCA Launches National Marketing Campaign!

Posted on October 2, 2017 by Catherine Ross

At noon EST on October 5, 2017, the Canadian Camping Association launches its national marketing campaign, #ThankstoCamp.

View the inspiring result of the contributions from camps, counsellors and campers across the country telling their amazing stories of the power of camp.

And find out how your camp can still be involved!

CCA Past President Harry Edwards Retires from Camping

Posted on September 5, 2017 by Catherine Ross

On July 4, 2017, John H. Redekop, Chair Stillwood Leadership Board, announced the retirement of Harry Edwards after twenty years of exemplary service:

Harry Edward (left) and his wife Gail.

The Stillwood Camp and Conference Leadership Board announces that after slightly more than 20 years of successful leadership, Harry Edwards, our Executive Director, has decided to retire from full-time leadership of Stillwood, a 100-acre ministry centre located near Cultus Lake in Southwestern British Columbia. Harry has provided strong leadership, always assisted by the extraordinary contribution of his wife Gail. Both Harry and Gail have obviously played major roles in enabling Stillwood to become the award-winning Christian ministry it is today.

Stillwood now ministers to approximately 3,000 campers during the summer season and many hundreds of guest groups from early September to mid-June. Under Harry’s leadership Stillwood now also offers a variety of specialized weekend retreats and conferences.

Harry Edwards has played a major role in bringing Stillwood to a whole new level of excellence and ministry effectiveness. Thousands have benefited from his leadership and hard work. Just as many will long remember the outstanding leadership Gail has provided in food service. The Edwards’ legacy is an impressive one and will be gratefully remembered by many for a very long time.

We wish Harry and his wife Gail safe and happy travels as they check off the places on their long bucket list that they wish to visit.

Think Tank on Camp Research Strategies and Strategic Directions

Posted on June 12, 2017 by Catherine Ross

On May 7, 2017 in Toronto, Dr. Stephen Fine, Chair of the CCA Research Committee, chaired a meeting of CCA Executive Members, John Jorgenson (President of the International Camping Fellowship), and several academics representing various disciplines: education, nursing, architecture, sociology and anthropology, and recreation and leisure studies.  The focus of the Think Tank was to share experience and resources to further research in the phenomena of camp.

Academic participants at the Think Tank on Camp Research included: Dr. Troy Glover, Professor, University of Waterloo; Dr. Karla Henderson, Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina; Dr. Deb Bialeschki , Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Catherine Laing, Assistant Professor University of Calgary; Dr. Thomas McIlwraith, Assistant Professor, University of Guelph and Dr. Trevor Norris, Associate Professor, Brock University; Peter Gilbert, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University; and John Blakey, Nature Based Learning Teacher and Educational Researcher, Montcrest School.

The group confirmed that the ultimate goal of research in camping is to assist camp professionals in maximizing the experience for campers. Research results have to be understood by camp directors and seen to have practical applications. Currently research is a strong component at International Camping Congresses.  Local camping conferences can also be suitable venues for researchers to share their work. The Waterloo research project, which proved the benefits of camp, is being used in the upcoming national campaign to promote camp. Research has a role to play in educating the public, informing camp professionals and validating and improving the camp experience.

In the Fall of 2017, the CCA will be contacting member camps across the country as to their interest towards participating in an American/Canadian research project. The project’s  aims and methods align with the National Research Council’s work on college and career readiness, which means that reports on the results of this project will help position camp within the broad context of youth development programs.  Interested parties should contact: Stephen Fine by email at

What Are the Campers Saying?

Posted on May 1, 2017 by Catherine Ross

In the midst of all the work to open and prepare camp for the upcoming season, it is helpful; to remember the reason for all the effort− the campers!

Spring is the season in a camp director’s calendar when suddenly the clock is ticking down.  The time has come to open camp; assess the winter damage and schedule cleaning, repair and/or renovation of buildings.  Back at the city office, there are still a few key staff positions and some camper spots to fill. Lists are created, suppliers have been consulted and the shopping and deliveries have begun.  Another summer season is just around the corner.

In the midst of all the administration and paper pushing, it is revitalizing to recall the reasons behind all the planning and preparations − the campers!

Recently I had the opportunity to read the 2016 reports from the hundreds of campers who were assisted in attending camp last summer by the Kids in Camp Charity.  We all know how important camp is in the lives of children, but sometimes it helps to be reminded in the campers’ own words, why we do what we do.

Let’s hear from the campers:

Camp is “amazing”, “great”, “awesome” and “unforgettable.” “I wouldn’t trade camp for anything.” “I wish I could stay at camp forever.”  “Camp is my favourite place in the world.”

They acquired hard skills – “I got to paddle on white water”, “I learned how to start a fire…flip a kayak…climb thin trees.”  But more importantly, they acquired life skills.  “I learned how to be a better sport.”  “Sometimes even if you miss your parents you can still have fun.”  “I really stepped out of my comfort zone in a way that helped my confidence.” I learned how to conquer fears.” ” I learned that it’s OK to be yourself no matter your differences and imperfections.”  “I learned never to try to be someone you are not.”

Campers with physical, learning or emotional challenges say, “At camp I can be myself and be accepted for who I am.”   “At camp I could be free and not worry about my differences.”  A camper with autism says “I had a few meltdowns but in a non-judgemental place with others who get it.”

These amazing outcomes happen because camp is a community where kids feel that they are welcome, they belong and they are accepted unconditionally. “Camp is a safe place.”  “I’ve never felt more welcomed.”  “Camp is my home away from home.” “I love camp because of the sense of community.”  “At camp they treat you like family right away.” “I feel good at camp.”

Thanks to Isabella, Randeonna, Mandy, Nika, Jude, Morgan, Angela, Taylor, Adam, Cameron, Samantha, Ethan, Logan, Hailey, Annabel, Kira, Parker and Desana for sharing their thoughts about camp.

Thanks to all the camp staff across the country who will be providing amazing experiences for thousands more children in summer 2017.

Cross Country Conversation

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Catherine Ross

In January 2017, Mark Diamond, Chair of the CCA Advocacy Committee, convened a cross-Canada conference call. The participants were: Bronco Cathcart (BC), David Godwin (SK) Jonathan Nyquist (ON), Dara Kahne (day camp director ON), Jacqui Raill (QC), Stephane Richard and John Savage (NB), and Dave Graham (NS).

They discussed minimum wage (now mandatory in some provinces for camp staff), the Early Years Act (a challenge for day camps in Ontario), and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (an ongoing concern for camps across the country). Four times a year, this committee will convene to discuss issues that all provinces should be aware of so that we can be prepared and understand the legal changes across the country. As a result of this sharing of information, this committee will decide what particular issue(s) should be proactively worked on from a lobbying or government relations perspective. On two of these calls, the Government Relations consultant who has been hired by CCA, Allan Young of Tactix, will report on current concerns and updates of all pending and prospective legislative changes across each province and federally.

We are indebted to this group of camp professionals who are working on our behalf to be proactive rather than reactive to government policy and legislative changes.

2016 Canadian Camping Association Research Award of Excellence Winner

Posted on February 20, 2017 by Catherine Ross

Mandi Baker, CCARAE Winner (2016)

CCA is pleased to announce that Mandi Baker, PhD, Griffith U AUS, is the 2016 winner of the CCARAE for her doctoral dissertation: Becoming and Being a Camp Counsellor: a study of discourse, power relations and emotions.

Mandi attended camps in Southern Ontario as a camper, counsellor and program director. She obtained a Recreation degree at the University of Waterloo and is currently a lecturer at Torrens University, Blue Mountain International Hotel Management School NSW, Australia.

Mandi writes, “While camp counsellor experiences can be immensely positive opportunities for young people to mature and learn about the needs of others, the emotional demands can create pressures that staff struggle to manage.”

Mandi’s paper challenges camp directors to recognize the emotional, physical and mental demands of a counsellor’s job and to provide the necessary support and understanding.

CCA 2016 Award Winners

Posted on January 31, 2017 by Catherine Ross

CCA is proud to recognize camping leaders from across the country who have made exceptional contributions to our industry within their own province and nationally.

Ron Johnstone Lifetime Achievement Award

Joe Kronick

Joe Kronick (second from left) with family and CCA Past President Jill Dundas (centre).

Joe Kronick has been a very active member of the CCA Insurance Committee for well-over 20 years and has made an immense contribution to the great policies that we are now so proud to offer to our CCA and Provincial camp members.

Joe was one of the prime members of an original group of camp professionals who saw that camps needed their own specially written insurance policies to fit their needs quite distinctly from any then available general commercial/business insurance policies.

When CCA made the decision to develop and offer proper insurance coverage to accredited camp members, we were able to benefit from a great deal of the work that Joe and his group had already done. We were extremely pleased when Joe accepted our invitation to join the CCA Insurance Committee and work with us to further develop and hone the policies.

As a committee member, Joe is a tireless worker and took on projects at virtually every meeting. He is the first to complete his tasks and is a huge storehouse of information and sage advice.

Jack Pearse Award of Honour

Mark Diamond

Mark Diamond (right) with CCA Past President Jill Dundas

As Chair of the CCA Government Relations Committee, for the past several years, Mark has devoted countless hours communicating with government officials and meeting with lobbying organizations as he and his committee worked on behalf of all camps affected by new government regulations. He has tackled boating and foreign worker regulations and the Child Care and Early Years Act. In addition, Mark is a member of the OCA Board and in 2016 spear-headed an initiative for Ontario camps to invite new Canadians to attend camp at no cost.

Award of Excellence

Howard Martin

For over 55 years, Howard has worked with children and youth in education and social services. Some of this work has taken him overseas to a South Africa Educational Management Project, an Educational Leadership Project in Trinidad and Tobago and closer to home, the Special Education Pilot Project with the First Nations Educational Council in Quebec. In 2005, he provided support and guidance to the Directors of Youth Protection in Nunavik for four years.

For the past 35 years, Howard’s passion has been Camp Weredale, in the Laurentians, a summer camp for children and youth at risk from foster homes and residential services of the Batshaw Youth and Family Centres in Montreal as well as other referring social agencies. Established in 1934, Camp Weredale is a summer camp for boys and girls, aged five to seventeen, who are receiving youth protection social services.

In the 1980s it became a special needs camp for both boys and girls from the Youth Horizons Reception Centre

In the 1990s (respite) programs of support to foster children and families were added to accommodate this growing category of children

Rob Tiessen

Rob Tiessen (left) with Paul Bailey.

Rob has been a constant example and inspiring leader and mentor for camping in BC for many years. As a counsellor, program staff and now an Executive Director, Rob continues to promote inclusive and traditional camping for all children while also creating space for diversity and progressive change. Rob has continued to push Camp Squeah to be a friend and ally to local Indigenous children, youth and families. Rob has been a long-time volunteer with FCC and BCCA including a number of years helping plan the annual BC Camping Conference

Nick Kitchen

Nick has helped run the, New Brunswick provincial canoe course for the past 15 years. This program has trained countless counsellors, thereby helping camps reach and exceed accreditation standards. Nick has also become the NB representative for Paddle Canada and the advocate for camping on that board. He now works permanently for Camp Centennial, encouraging the growth and success of camping in the province.

Kathy Koehler
Kathy and her husband Gary have provided leadership to the United Church’s Camp Kasota West for over 20 years. Kathy has served on many camping boards including the Canadian Camping Association Board of Directors. Currently Kathy sits on the Alberta Camping Association Board as Vice-President.

Kathy is a strong, calm and quiet leader that many in the camping industry in Alberta and across Canada can look to for wisdom, guidance and support.