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]
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.