Sterling Talent Solutions has posted a blog article that may be of interest to Canadian camps.
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.”
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.
Register now online for the 2017 International Camp Directors Course to be held on November 22 to November 26, 2017 at YMCA Camp Elphinstone, Gibsons, on the beautiful Sunshine Coast just north of Vancouver, British Columbia.
This professional development course is equally valuable for novice and experienced camp directors, managers and operators.
In 2016, twenty-six camps across the country and thousands of campers participated in the Summer Camp Bondar Challenge. With direction form trained staff (training material available online), they took their cameras outdoors to explore, observe, appreciate, and photograph nature.
After attending an International Camp Directors Couse at Camp Tawingo in Huntsville, Ontario in November 2016, Camp Director, Barb Weeden, with twenty-five years of experience, recommends that “every camp director, new or seasoned, should attend the International Camp Directors Course.” John Savage, Owner/Director, Camp Centennial, New Brunswick agrees:
Barb Weeden, Executive Director of Sparrow Lake Camp writes: “I am so thankful I got to attend the ICDC at Camp Tawingo in November 2016. It was so wonderful to spend time with other like-minded camp professionals for an extended period of time. This course confirmed for me that I can never stop learning and networking! It is so important to keep up with the issues and trends the industry is facing and also share openly with your camping peers. I wish I had the chance to take this course when I was first starting out. It covered every aspect of our responsibilities. We even got to start our own camps and present our business plans to “camp investors” on our last morning!
“Our class of twenty-five had participants from across Canada and two from the USA. We now have our own Facebook group and a new network of camping friends. Connie [Coutellier of Ohio, Past President of the American Camp Association], Donna [Wilkinson, Executive Director of Saskatchewan Camping Association] and Jen [Dundas, Executive Director of Camp Couchiching] were a great team! Jorgi [John Jorgenson, Director Camp Tawingo and President of ICF] was an amazing host and spread his joy of International camping with us. We all learned, loved the experience and sure did appreciate the resources we came away with.”
John Savage also enthusiastically endorses the course. “For an industry that is so entrenched in interpersonal connections and educational development, it is truly inspiring to be a part of a course that fosters both those connections and development to the highest level of professionalism in the industry.”
CCA intends to offer an International Camp Directors Course in 2017. Information will be publicized when available.
In the past six years, on three separate occasions, Ted Lockie (Manager, Camp and Youth Programs, Western Canada, Canadian Diabetes Association) received a request from parents asking him if he would register a transgender camper. Ted shares his experience.
When Lockie was asked to register a transgender camper, he did not hesitate. Ted simply asked the parent to identify whether their child chose to live in a female or a male cabin. In all three cases, a female was transitioning to a male. Ted was confident that the child would not behave in any way to make the cabin mates uncomfortable as that would be difficult for themselves as well. In most cases, the other campers were unaware of the gender change. Only the camper’s counsellor and the medical staff were informed.
In Ted’s experience, no problems arose and he received no negative feedback from other parents. He states, “It is not a problem; don’t make it a problem.” Ted is a millennial and completely comfortable with the situation. He speculates that older camp directors may be less at ease because they have had less experience with transgender youth. He considers that the issue may be more of a challenge for those with strong religious beliefs that do not accept gender change.
Ted believes that because camp is an inclusive, accepting, supportive environment, it is a great place for transgender youth to learn how to navigate society. They become accustomed to using a different washroom, have the opportunity to play on a different sports team or even start talking about the changes that they are experiencing.
During World War II, Mary Edgar, Founding Director of Glen Bernard Camp for girls, organized a group of alumnae to offer a camp respite to girls from the UK to escape bombs and horrible air raids. The camp was called Shangri-La. To celebrate their 95th season in the spirit of May Edgar, the camp decided to invite twenty-four Syrian girls to enjoy a Canadian camping experience.
Throughout the winter of 2015/16, Director Joc Palm and Associate Director Kim Graydon began their research and preparations to launch GBC for Syria. After meeting with various organizations and agencies, they began to receive applications from several Syrian families new to Canada. With an album of camp photographs showing the site and the activities, they visited each of the applicants’ families across the province with one or more of their sponsors and when necessary with the assistance of a translator. They spent hours with each family, answering questions and building trust.
One incident was memorable. Kim had answered “no” to one girl’s question, “Is there electric?” because at GBC the girls do not have hydro in their cabins. All of a sudden, the two sisters looked at one another, began speaking quickly to their father in Arabic and rolling their eyes. The father then spoke to them somewhat sternly. When Joc and Kim asked the translator what he had said to his daughters, he replied, “He told them if they could survive a year and a half in a refugee camp in Jordan, they could survive a week at Glen Bernard without electricity!” Amused, Joc reassured the girls that yes, there was hydro to the main buildings around camp just not in the sleeping cabins.
Giving consideration to the language barrier, GBC decided it was not necessary to have translators at camp. Campers learn by seeing and doing. They knew that the Syrian campers with better English could help the girls with little English.
Swimming ability was a barrier. Of the twenty-six girls, only two could swim. Fortunately, the camp waterfront has a sandy beach and a long stretch of shallow water. The girls were advised that if they were concerned, all they had to do was stand up. The waterfront staff discussed how to help the newcomers feel safe. In some cases, everyone wore lifejackets to play in the water.
The Syrian campers lived for their week’s stay with GBC campers in various cabins during all sessions. The veteran campers discovered that the new campers were friendly and enjoyed camp as much as they did. However, one afternoon they were reminded that these girls had experiences foreign to them During a thunder storm, one Syrian camper remarked, “The thunder sounds just like bombs exploding.” Nevertheless, nobody dwelt on this graphic comparison, and the girls continued happily with their indoor play.
The experience was a great success for both the newcomers and GBC campers. It is the camp’s intention with support from alumnae to invite all the Syrian girls to return if they choose for the length of time appropriate to their age and also to bring a friend.
Kudos to GBC and the many camps across Canada that welcomed Syrian newcomers to their camps last summer!