Recently I had the pleasure of visiting a Syrian family of seven that arrived in Toronto in March 2017 after time spent in Iraq. In two short years, the father has secured full time work in his field as a cook. The mother attends English classes five days a week where her youngest daughter also attends daycare. She has learned to drive and has recently passed her license. The other four children attend school. As well as learning English (which at present they are speaking very well), they are also studying French, thereby adding two new languages to their current fluency in Arabic and Kurdish. I was impressed!
The four older children, ranging in age from five to fourteen, are anxious for winter to end. They are looking ahead excitedly to returning to day camp for a week at the end of August. They are not fond of the cold weather; Nihad told me that he liked camp because “every day there was sun.”
For the past two years the children have experienced camp thanks to the generosity of Seneca: King Day Camp one of the eighty day and overnight Ontario Accredited Camps that are making the experience available to newcomers to Canada at no cost.
The children eagerly talked about their summer experience. For Shahid, canoeing was the best thing. She also described the excitement of rock climbing. “Going up was fun; I made it almost to the top, but I didn’t like going down.” Shahid is excited about the possibility of going to an overnight camp for a week with her school class next year.
Appreciative that the counsellor was responsible for putting the worm on the hook, the three older children went fishing. While the others were unsuccessful, Mohamednour mentioned that he caught three fish. However, he was not particularly excited because he doesn’t like to eat fish! Not a problem ̶ they were all released and thrown back into the lake.
Without a doubt, the best thing about camp for Nihad was soccer. He is an ardent Real Madrid fan. When I told him that my grandson’s favourite team was Arsenal, he grinned and replied, “They are a weak team.”
The first summer, their camp was on a college campus with mostly indoor activities. Last summer they were in an outdoor setting with a lake and woods, which they liked much better. They loved being outdoors swimming in the lake almost every day. Camp has become an important part of a new life in Canada for these children contributing to their feeling of welcome and safety as well as introducing them to exciting new activities.
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:
We were invited to participate in two important initiatives:
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.
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,
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]
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 nneec.ca.
View the inspiring result of the contributions from camps, counsellors and campers across the country telling their amazing stories of the power of camp.
On July 4, 2017, John H. Redekop, Chair Stillwood Leadership Board, announced the retirement of Harry Edwards after twenty years of exemplary service:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.