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Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Summer Camp

The Ontario Camps Association (OCA) is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation of camp professionals which is at the forefront of the province’s camping community.  Founded in 1932, the OCA is made up of like-minded individuals and organisations who are dedicated to ensuring that the camp environment is as safe and enriching as possible.  In order to accomplish this, the OCA facilitates the sharing of information and ideas, and sets standards that all OCA accredited camps must meet.  The OCA is also dedicated to informing the public about the benefits of the camp experience, and helping families to choose the best camp for their children.  In the OCA Summer Camps Guide 2009, the OCA recommends questions that parents should ask to help them choose the right summer camp.  This article answers those questions regarding Canadian Adventure Camp.  If you would like to discuss anything further, or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to call Justin at (905) 886-1406 or email him at Enable JavaScript to view protected content. He would love to hear from you!      

Is the camp I am choosing OCA accredited?

Yes, Canadian Adventure Camp has been OCA accredited for over 30 years.  This means that the operation of Canadian Adventure Camp follows over 400 standards that are constantly being redefined to ensure that campers are provided with a safe and enriching environment.  If you are interested in finding out more about the standards, or the OCA, you can find this information on their website at www.ontariocamps.ca  

What is the camp’s staff-to-camper ratio?

Canadian Adventure Camp’s staff-to-camper ratio is better than three to one.   This is a good indication of the excellent level of supervision we pride ourselves on at CAC.

What measures does the camp take to ensure the safety of the campers?

The safety of our campers, both physical and emotional, is of utmost importance.   It is for this reason that we only hire mature, well-qualified staff.  Our staff must be at least 19 years old, but the vast majority of our staff are well into their twenties.  Our staff must have a minimum of Bronze Cross lifesaving certification, but most of our staff have their NLS Life Guarding qualification and Standard First Aid.  Campers are always supervised by a qualified lifeguard whenever they are participating in a water-based activity, and we use a buddy system with larger swimming groups as an added safety measure.  The daily structure of camp including activity periods, mealtimes, and cabin time ensures that individual campers are always accounted for.  All of our counsellors live and sleep in the cabin with their cabin group, so campers are cared for and supervised around the clock.  We believe that by providing this level of supervision we can ensure camper safety by recognising and resolving situations that have the potential to become risky before they reach that stage.  We also believe that having counsellors living in the cabins with the campers provides a safe, nurturing environment where campers can be guided towards developing important life skills through everyday experiences.  During our extended staff training, our staff members are taught to work with the guidelines and policies we have in place to protect campers, and to pass on an understanding of these expectations to the campers.  In this way our staff are consistent enforcers of policies, and our campers are active participants in making healthy, safe decisions.        

What programs does the camp offer?

Canadian Adventure Camp offers a choice of general camping, or one of three speciality programs: gymnastics, trampoline or water-skiing.  The camper’s schedule is determined by their choice of program, with the speciality program choice taking up a part of every day.  Campers have a choice of over 40 activities to fill their day, including old favourites and new additions being added all the time!  Highlights include our exciting waterslides, our great climbing wall, our fun water-trampoline and our European-style  sauna.  During their stay at CAC, every camper will also have the opportunity to go tubing with their cabin group, and try water-skiing, gymnastics and trampoline, even if it is not their chosen specialty.  In addition, every cabin goes on an overnight canoe trip which is a fantastic cabin-bonding experience, a great chance to see some more of beautiful Lake Temagami, and a brilliant opportunity to learn some basic outdoor skills.  Our themed lunches, day of camp-wide games (the Panasmugglican Games) and fun evening programs also bring variety and excitement to their camp stay. 

How do the campers choose their programs at camp?

Speciality programs have to be registered for in advance, and places fill up quickly so be sure to register early!  Once at camp, campers choose and sign up for their activities in “sign-up” books that are passed in rotation from table to table during meals.  In this way campers have a choice about what they would like to do while at camp, and also make friends from out with their cabin group.  Some activities such as cabin tubing and water-skiing are organised ahead of time to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate.  The younger campers are given a bit more guidance and structure when choosing their activities to ensure that they try a wide variety of activities while at camp, and also so that they receive instruction at the correct level.        

What does the Camp Director/staff want the campers to take away with them at the end of their camping experience?

Our goal is to help young people grow into responsible, well-rounded citizens by expanding their skills and knowledge within the fun and friendship of a warm camp atmosphere.  At the end of their camp experience we want campers to leave with fond memories and friends, but also a variety of life skills that will help them succeed in life.  We want children to leave with an increased sense of confidence and a ‘can-do’ attitude, improved social skills and the ability to live successfully with others, the capacity to set and work towards personal goals, and a greater appreciation for the wonder of nature, to name a few!

How does the camp and staff deal with issues like homesickness, bullying, and campers with special needs?

An important part of our staff training and professional development throughout the summer is focused on making sure that our staff are well prepared to effectively deal with the multitude of issues that arise at camp.  At Canadian Adventure Camp we have a number of strategies in place to make children feel comfortable and at home as soon as they arrive at camp, which significantly reduces the likelihood of children becoming homesick.  You can read more about this in the article entitled, “Homesickness: Prevention is Better than a Cure”.  It is a reality that some children will feel a little homesick from time to time, so we make sure that our staff are able to recognise the diverse signs of homesickness and help the child to successfully overcome it.  Bullying has no place at summer camp.  The existence of bullying has the potential to destroy the safe, nurturing community that we work so hard to create.  At CAC we are quick to respond to any signs of bullying – being disrespectful to another camper is absolutely unacceptable.  The level of supervision made possible by having counsellors living in the cabins with the children means that even very subtle “hidden” bullying can be detected and dealt with.  We recognise that all children have individual needs, and we always strive to identify and meet those needs.  Through working with parents we are able to cater to the needs of children with mild learning, behavioural or physical needs.  Our camp environment is not set up to meet the specialised needs of children who face large challenges in their everyday lives, so if your child requires one-on-one attention there are other camps that may be better suited to meet their needs.

What is the Camp Director’s background and what are his/her qualifications?

Justin Gerson, the Director, has been involved in camp since he was a child.  It was his background in gymnastics that originally brought him to CAC as a camper and then as a coach.  Alongside his university degree, Justin enjoyed running a program for under-privileged youth in New Mexico; his first taste at running a camp!  After years of working as Head Gymnastics Coach at Canadian Adventure Camp, Justin began to work full-time for the camp in 2005 and has since worked his way up to become the Director.  He leads by example and fosters mutual respect which results in a motivated and engaged staff team.  His love for working with children drew him into the camping industry, and the children remain his first priority.  He remains committed to building a relationship with each camper despite being pulled in a million directions during the course of a summer!

Skip Connett, the Senior Director, is the founder of Canadian Adventure Camp and started building the camp from the ground back in 1972.  Skip’s involvement in the Boy Scout Association originally brought him into camping.  Alongside creating and developing Canadian Adventure Camp, Skip became increasingly involved in the Ontario Camps Association and is now an Honorary Life Member.  Skip is committed to playing a part in the constant improvement of the camp experience for children and the camp industry as a whole.  He is continually involved in various projects and schemes to meet this commitment.   

What kind of health care facility/staff is available to the campers?

At Canadian Adventure Camp we have a fully equipped medical facility with a doctor and nurse always on site.  The medical staff store children’s meds for them and ensure that they take them at the appropriate time.  Having a facility and medical staff on site enables us to respond quickly and decisively to emergency situations as well as issues relating to everyday wellness. 

Does the camp have a system to transport campers to and from the camp?

Yes, we provide transportation to Canadian Adventure Camp from Toronto with additional pick-ups in Gravenhurst, Orillia and Barrie.  Our camp bus is great fun – we watch movies, stop for lunch and the journey is a brilliant opportunity to start making friends!  For our campers arriving from further away we can also organise a meeting service at Toronto International (Pearson) Airport including fully-supervised overnights at either end of a camper’s stay as needed.  The bus transports the campers to the access dock to Adventure Island where they are met by Canadian Adventure Camp water-taxis – what an exciting way to arrive at camp! 

Categories: Parents

Tags: Summer Camp Life

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