Fellow camp professional, I think you’ll understand …
Even after 15 years of being a Camp Director, I would often fall into bed saying “Just one thing, please give me one thing that I can control!”
I’m Travis Allison. You might know me from Summer Camp Professionals on Facebook, Camp Code & CampHacker podcasts. My colleague Joanna Warren Smith (Camp Consulting Services) and I have created our 10 Commandments of Camp Marketing. (sign up here)
This article is yours for free and when you download it, you’ll also receive our monthly ‘Marketing Mondays’ Tips, each of which includes two items to help you get control of your camp marketing madness.
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 email@example.com.
Here’s My Canada is a Canada 150 Signature project and is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada and the Bank of Montreal.
Please visit HeresMyCanada.ca for more information on how your camp can participate.
From the Globe & Mail: “In her new book Camp Food Matters, Margot Perlmutter recounts her quest to improve the nutritional quality of food at Camp Tamakwa in Algonquin Park, Ont.”
My way of dealing with most issues in life is not to create sides, but to listen to both. This works whether it is a fight between two campers, or whether it is a misunderstanding with regard to a First Nations or LGBQT issue. That being said, there is no methodology in place at all by which to categorize any dispute. Nor should there be!
Categorization is the worst enemy of disputes. This is well worth repeating. Nobody wants to be labeled. In fact, most disagreements become issues because someone feels undervalued, and sharply so.
Through years of experience, I have learned several factors to be true in all disputes. Bearing these in mind during the time of an altercation can often serve as a way to bring it to closure well before expected and with better results. Additionally, if I consistently approach others with actions that support these factors, it is much less likely that the issue will occur.
There is intrinsic value in every person. Everyone matters, and everyone has something good to offer a family, community, nation or world. I agree that not everything offered is good. I also agree that some things that are believed are not true. But the right to have beliefs and the right to choose – these are the freedoms that we all should be able to possess. They are of greater importance than any disagreement that can arise between me and another person.
No two people agree on everything. This only means that it is actually possible to further create argument and divide until community is extinguished and self is all that is left. Tragic!
If I listen, I will learn. So listen to their story, to their reasons for believing and valuing what they do. While I may not choose to adapt their belief structure into my own, at the very least I should learn something of what matters to them. Perhaps they want to lobby for a cause that completely misses what I have usually thought. Perhaps their reason is loyalty, or fairness, or something that I also value. If I shut them down because I disagree with the campaign in general, then they are hearing that I disagree with loyalty or fairness.
We are amazing people. We are capable of going to the moon and back, of building space stations, and of inventing cures for diseases that used to obliterate whole communities. Why is it so difficult to believe that we all have something of value for which to give honour?
Always ask questions before offering a defense. “Are we really in disagreement in this matter?” Even a question like that can create enough doubt that the other person will calm a bit. Follow it up with, “Could I please ask you to share your main concern again? And then, “Could you tell me what underlying values you hold onto that cause you to support this concern? Never consider your own response at all while listening. Listening is for learning, hearing and understanding.
Always create space for accepting a different view, while maintaining the value for the person. The way we talk must also model that this space is available. Bears attack when their escape is cut off. If people have the right to choose, then let them choose.
What you feel defines your concerns, not theirs. Sharp feelings such as jealousy, rage, fear or hatred are signs that we have unresolved issues in ourselves. So the next time that feeling arises, it should be another opportunity – not to set someone else straight – but to resolve what we haven’t in ourselves. If it came out of someone’s criticism, or exaggerated disparagement, then quietly ask yourself what part is true, and begin to change that part.
Defense strengthens offense. Karate teaches me that when the opponent senses that I am resisting, they will tighten their grip. But if the opponent senses that I have relaxed, they can’t help but do the same. So in every situation no matter who is upset with you, not only listen, but also explain that understanding them matters to you and that you are thankful for voicing their
concern. Follow that up with actions that support it. What this really amounts to in the face of the heat is that we must relax our grip and show love.
Finally, when mediating, reset the focus with questions. It’s very difficult to get someone else to show appreciation for the other person’s view. So if two boys are brought into my office after a fight, getting them to tell their side of the story will become a never ending nightmare of trying to prove the other person to be wrong. Now deep inside they both know that they could have done something differently… that at some point they made a choice to fight back. Rather than focus on the part that creates division, focus on the part inside each of them that they would rather not admit. The question I often use is, “So tell me what you could have done differently?” or “What did you do that you know you should not have done?” I always begin with the one that I think is more likely to spill first. When he starts with, “Well he…” I stop him and say, “No, what did you do that was wrong? He will have his turn to tell me what he did wrong.” The first admission almost always encourages the second. And by the time the second is done, the boys will often ask each other for forgiveness before I even get that far, and then they leave as friends.
If we embrace our differences, we actually, at the same time, are embracing our similarities.
In addition to processing camp employee background police checks efficiently and economically, Sterling Talent Solutions (BackCheck) also offers complimentary webinars:
Tuesday June 15, 2017 2:00 p.m.
Register online at sterlingtalentsolutions.com
All past webinars are archived and can be accessed at any time.
Should you have questions about any of Sterling Talent Solutions services or require assistance, please contact CCA’s account representative Linda Ferens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After nearly three years of hard work and lobbying, our CCA government relations committee is excited to report the following, newly created Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exempt permit category for staff working at camps: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/unique/camp.asp
All foreign workers who wish to secure a temporary work permit as a camp counsellor should be processed under this recently created category.
You may also find it useful to review information on the web-pages listed below. These resources are included as links in the new camp counsellor work permit policy and they provide additional information regarding potential work permit fee exemptions for international camp staff and employers utilizing this new category:
The process of securing this policy has been a major undertaking and these new guidelines will pave the way for addressing our future needs for foreign camp staff. It will also support our ability to continue to create high-quality, diverse staffing teams as well as develop camp communities that encourage the exchange of cultures. We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the many government policy makers who listened to our case, believed in our cause and helped guide and support us through this hard fought endeavour. The following MP’s, Ministers and their respective office support teams went above and beyond to help with this initiative and advocate on our behalf:
Minister Ahmed D. Hussen and previous Minister John McCallum, MP Michael Levitt, MP Anthony Rota, Roland Parris – previous Senior Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, MP Marco Mendicino, MP David Graham, MP Anthony Housefather, MP Jamie Schmale, MP Ralph Goodale, MP Rodger Cuzner and Minister Patty Hajdu.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to Mark Diamond and Jonathan Nyquist who co-led this initiative, as well as the following members of our Association who dedicated a substantial amount of time on this matter: Barb Gray, Jonathan Pivnick, Adam Kronick, Sol Birenbaum, Leon Muszynski, Craig Perlmutter, Stephane Richard and Mike Sladden.
We also appreciate the efforts of our very competent lobbying company, Tactix, for their exceptionally skillful guidance and support throughout this process.
If you have any questions regarding the exemption then please feel free to reach out directly to Jonathan Nyquist: email@example.com
Take care and happy camping!
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.
Jeff Bradshaw, Past President of CCA and Owner/Executive Director of Camp Wenonah, shares his model for engaging camp alumni. Jeff has close to three hundred alumni actively involved and contributing to the Wenonah camp community. Former staff members enjoy staying connected and camp benefits in many ways.
One of the challenges that most camps seem to have is the daunting task of engaging alumni.
As a younger camp that just celebrated our 20th anniversary, we had the unique opportunity to carefully plan for an alumni association from scratch. After consulting with many of our colleagues in camps across Canada, Friends of Wenonah (FOW) was born.
We discussed the pros and cons of various ways to begin an alumni program and then settled on something that we believed would work for us. And it has worked for us VERY well ever since. We currently number close to 300 on our FOW roster. That’s 300 active alumni who are involved in many aspects of our camp community.
It’s important to note that our alumni association is staff specific. With few exceptions, most of our long-time campers graduate into staff roles. We also struggled with the idea of creating an alumni group with all campers that attend camp each and every year, but we just couldn’t get out heads around how to engage thousands of people in a meaningful way. Recent camper alumni do continue to receive our annual newsmagazine (the Wenonah Warbler) each January.
Rather than automatically becoming a part of our alumni group after working a year or two at camp, it made sense to us to include only those who have had a strong connection to camp and a desire to stay involved with Wenonah.
Our current criteria include three years on staff (full Summer and/or Outdoor Centre seasons) and a minimum age of twenty-one. We did create some further criteria: a significant contribution to/support of camp AND, significantly and importantly, a demonstrated interest or intent to remain involved with Wenonah in the future. A FOW invitation is not a foregone conclusion.
We do our best to keep groups (staff years, leadership groups etc…) together− at times deferring invitations until a whole group can be FOW members together.
An official invitation is sent to each year’s class of FOW inductees and then a follow-up email is sent to the full FOW membership introducing the new group with pictures and biographical information.
There’s no membership fee or related costs to be a FOW member. We host a FOW Weekend each year at camp on the Victoria Day holiday weekend – a great opportunity to enjoy camp with camp friends for three days. As well, there are numerous gatherings of FOW members on a regular basis throughout the year and in all sorts of places literally now around the world. Many FOW members get involved in short term projects with camp including: facilitating leadership canoe trips for one week in the summer; working with introductory periods at camp as the Director or a staff member; counselling at our youngest program (WEEnonah, a three day session for five to seven year olds): new staff interviews; Women’s Weekend leadership; work with specialty groups (we host a national bereavement camp program) assisting with opening and closing weekends; marketing and promotional assistance throughout the year (Camp Fairs and home visits); work on Committees and Task Forces; New Camper Open House weekends and much more!
We typically send fifteen to twenty mass emails annually to update everyone on what’s happening with camp and in everyone’s lives.
Most significantly, with FOW members living in seventeen countries on five continents, there is a real connectedness that occurs through this group. There have been FOW folks at camp with us stretching back (in many cases) now for decades. What many people have realized is that when they leave camp, they can still have a very real attachment to it through FOW.
There are so many positives. Our alumni are not only aware of the evolution of our camp’s experience but often are directly involved in the visioning and facilitation of these changes. FOW members are the best Ambassadors possible and, many find themselves now parents of “next generation” campers.
Finally, there is a tremendous sense of community and connectedness that extends far beyond everyone’s years of active involvement with camp. In this sense, camp truly lasts a lifetime.
Camp Ten Oaks is a celebrated overnight camp for children and youth ages 8-17 from LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, queer) identities, families and communities. Based on Eagle Lake in eastern Ontario, Ten Oaks is the first camp of its kind in Canada.
Julia Wagg was a co-founder of Ten Oaks. The camp community is in mourning after Julia passed away after a 15-month battle with leukemia.