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
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
Summer Camp Director