THE PLAY MAKER
When I was younger, I always loved working with kids, so it was an easy decision for me to choose a career in camping; a place where I can guide and support children in their development. Camp provided me with a better understanding of teaching and learning, and showed me how to create a space for children to learn and grow for themselves, and as themselves. What I love most about working at summer camp are the moments when I get to work with campers and discuss alternative strategies and tools to promote their own personal successes. Having been a quiet kid with low self-esteem, to now being a camp director running programs and activities with hundreds of participants, I know that the lessons I’ve learned through my years of camping are ones that have shaped me as a leader, as well as an educator.
I love problem solving, and camp gave me the confidence to tackle things for myself. Camp encouraged me to find the tenacity and the gut instinct that is needed to continuously focus on the bigger picture, whether it be in camping, the Royal Lifesaving Society, or environmental education. My lifelong passion and career is in camping, and these experiences have allowed for me to develop the perspective to innovate within our industry to meet the needs of tomorrow and also ten years from now.
Camp fundamentally shaped who I am. Camp was where I said yes to something that I may never had said yes to. It was the first place that I held a guitar, the first place I stood on stage, and the first place I was told that I could sing. Camp isn’t something that I need to reference on the day to day as something that has influenced me, because it actually feels as though it became part of my DNA. By getting to know kids from all over, and not just those from your neighborhood, there’s a certain emotional intelligence that you develop, as well as a deeper empathy for human beings. You have to make connections with other campers in ways that are different than making connections with classmates in school. High school is more about fitting in, and camp is more about accomplishing things together. You also learn very quickly that it’s harder to disappear when you’re at camp. In high school, we tend to suppress who we are in order to get through it. At camp, we get through it by being who we are.
THE RISK TAKER
Camp has completely shaped the way that I enjoy spending my time. Being outdoors hiking and camping with friends is what I love to do whenever I have the chance, exploring beyond my boundaries and feeling safe to do it. As someone who was quite homesick when I was a younger camper, I always knew that I had the support and care of my counsellors, which helped to foster an environment that inspired confidence and trust. With every new learning opportunity, there was always someone right behind me, cheering me on the whole way. I quickly learned that I didn't need to feel afraid to try new things, and camp became a safe home where I could take risks. Looking back at these moments as an adult, I know that camp has influenced my understanding of what "home" looks and feels like.
The Rising Star
As a young girl, camp provided me with the tools to help build confidence in ways I've never seen before. In a world cluttered by stereotypical female TV characters, ads promoting unrealistic body image, and the mentality that we as women are "weak", camp gave me the ability to see past the stereotypes and live how I wanted to be seen, all at the age of 12. I can't express how grateful I am to have experienced that growing up, and I'm proud that I'm able to carry those lessons in my everyday life now.
The CHANGE MAKER
Since I was 8 years old, I've been going to camp every summer. I am shy by nature, but last year, I stood up in front of my entire school to talk about the environment and asking them to think about how careful they are with their waste. I think camp has helped me to be more confident in myself, and I've even been nominated for the New Leader of Art and Music for 2017-2018 at school. Without my experiences at camp, I know that I would not be who I am today.
Camp was the only place during my childhood where I got to choose for myself how I wanted to move through the world. In the city, I carried labels such as sister, daughter, and student, which dictated how I would behave in any given situation. At camp, these labels were removed, and I was able to take on my own identity. I come back to this lesson daily, asking myself, “what is my truth?” I carry camp lessons with me into the outside world, especially in the male dominated industry that I work in. My camp experiences taught me how to own the fact that I am a woman who can be in charge. I don’t need to divest myself of my femininity to be successful, and there is a female authority that exists in me that was definitely fostered at camp.