October 31, 2013

Summer Camp Registration 2014

Message from our Summer Camp Director,

2013 will be remembered as a special summer for me in many ways. It was the first summer that my son was able to participate as a camper, the weather was wonderful – pleasant and comfortable, and we grew as a staff. After 9 years as summer camp director, I am amazed that our spirit as a camp and the mission to our families is bigger than any one person. The successes of the past are incorporated into the next summer while the lessons and feedback from parents are scrutinized and new initiatives put in place to deliver even higher quality to our campers and parents for the upcoming summer.

The best people I've ever worked with are our staff. Most grew up at Camp Kawartha; first as campers, then as staff and then when their talents have demanded them elsewhere, they've moved on, but always with a "foot," in the door with a summer visit and inspirational words to the current staff. These are the people who are nurturing your children and helping them grow into confident individuals and team players.

At Camp Kawartha, I believe we mostly get it RIGHT, but we strive to get EVERYTHING right. Surveys each summer give us a lot of positive feedback as well as comments of areas we need to work on.   This is why we cherish feedback from parents and reflect on our most recent performances with end-of-summer evaluations, reports from each camp program, post-camp meetings, and continuous discussions in person, by phone, text and e-mail.

In what areas do I want to improve your camp experience? In years' past, I reiterated the importance of maintaining the camp as one of the last outlets for children to have a holiday from technology. A campaign to parents discouraging cell phones at camp was at the front of this initiative. We expanded our leadership programs to ensure no campers were left behind. We implemented a late spring open house and a Mini-Kawartha camp day for campers and parents to discover the camp and ease the transition for both campers and parents.

For 2014, I'm initiating a "no clothes left behind," campaign. It's inevitable that campers (and staff) are going to lose clothing items over the course of their summer, and we do our best to channel these items back to the owners through our lost 'n found bin, our regular lost 'n found  sessions in the Dining Hall (your children should be familiar with our "re-united," chant each time an item is successfully returned), with our lost 'n found table on pick-up day and calls home for items found after campers have left (and the occasional "home delivery" drop-off). These efforts are so important because I feel they are an extension of the camp experience and the care we invest in each camper.

With all these efforts, we still end up with bins of lost and found at the end of the summer. There are 2 types of lost and found – labeled and unlabeled.  You can probably guess which type we retain. Labeled lost and found is easy to return whether it's to a camper in the dining hall or calling a parent after their session is over. While locating unlabeled lost 'n found is a great challenge and results in much lower returns.

For 2014, I make a case to all parents to LABEL what they send to camp. If you are part of my generation, mid-40s (age, not World War 2 era), who remembers labels as a child, you will recall the ironed-on labels that scratched the back of your neck as it rested unevenly on your collar, or worse, the marker that smudged and was no good anyway at identifying the owner.

I'm happy to tell you that times have changed. I became a believer when my wife purchased labels from a company that specializes in the industry. They came in all sizes and customized with my son's name and a cool icon (in my son's case, his favourite animal). She put them on everything – rain boots, water bottles, shoes, hats, shirt, and sweaters. The labels have saved me from my sloppy ways of collecting my son's belongings at the end of school. Retrieving them has never been so easy.

So if we can all commit to labeling our children's clothing, not only do we enter a lost-free zone at the camp (ohhhh, I'm excited to see what this looks like), but we also act as greater environmental stewards by avoiding having these lost items go into landfills or into repurchasing. Together we can make camp a better place!

On that note, we do donate the clothing after 60 days at camp, but some items do need to be thrown out and we won't know how much more is thrown out after it goes into the donation bins.

Here's the labeling company that my wife went through and others that work closely with summer camps:
Mabel's Labels, http://www.mabelslabels.com/
Loveable Labels http://www.kawartha.lovablelabels.ca/

On a final note, check out an article on Camp Kawartha in the Peterborough Gazette and cool photos of campers using some new equipment we purchased through the support of a generous donation at http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/2013/08/27/anonymous-donor-helps-camp-kawartha This donation allowed us to update the equipment on our basketball court and purchase some great toys and equipment for the waterfront and tripping programs. They include new canoes, kayaks, spinal boards and tents. It has given a great boost to the camp and a platform for campers to shine, as you can see from the photos.

I look forward to preparing for another summer, answering all your questions along the way and emerging into another great summer. 2014, we can't wait! We look forward to seeing you on opening day!

Adam Strasberg
Summer Camp Director