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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.

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Communications Officer at Canadian Camping Association

Catherine’s lifelong love of camping began in 1953 when she accompanied her mother, the new camp cook, to Camp Tanamakoon in Algonquin Park. She remained at Tan until 1978 as a camper and in several staff roles. After five years as a teacher, in 1979, Catherine and her husband George purchased Camp Mi-A-Kon-Da for girls in Parry Sound, Ontario which they owned for 20 years. Catherine has served on the Board of the Ontario Camps Association, and is Past President of the Society of Camp Directors. She is currently Communications Officer on the Board of the CCA. She is past editor of Camps Canada, published by the CCA, and the OCAasional News, the newsletter of the OCA. She is the author of four publications. Her articles on camping have appeared in numerous magazines.