I know that most of us are still deep in thoughts of winter, but for me, summer is approaching quickly and my attention is turning to fundraising, camper registration, and hiring. As resumes roll in from previous years staff and participants from our Leadership Program (who will be first time staff this year), I thought I’d take an opportunity to tell you more about our Leadership Program, and why I’m so excited to hire from within it.
Most of you already know about our summer leadership program for teenagers aged 15-17. This program has about 18 participants each summer, most of who have grown up at camp, and becoming an LIT/JC has been a lifelong dream. During the summer, these campers work towards their Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross swimming levels, they embark on a week long canoe or hiking trip through Algonquin Parks’ vast wilderness, and spend time enhancing their leadership skills and building lifelong friendships. It’s an incredible program that I’m tremendously proud of.
But the real gem, and what I think sets us apart is our Year-Round Leadership Program for our summer leadership participants and staff. This group typically meets once a month throughout the year for a whole host of different activities. Sometimes they will cook a healthy meal together, other times they will learn about resume writing, attend each others sporting events, or go to Canada’s Wonderland. It’s varied because we’re looking to achieve two very important goals; the first is to cultivate a strong community so that the positive gains made throughout the summer are maintained year round; and the second is employment readiness. A big focus of this program is setting participants up for employment success.
We offer support through resume writing, interview skills, and access to certifications. In the fall of 2019, we helped 10 participants secure jobs at pools in Toronto which they were able to do because of certifications acquired at camp or through this year round program. Many of them now earn wages higher than that of their parents. You can’t imagine the incredible pride and esteem that comes from knowing you are positively contributing to your family’s income, and that poverty alleviation suddenly seems within reach.
Currently, we have 12 participants working towards new certifications to boost their resumes and employability. Here are the certifications they are currently working towards:
- 2 swimming examiners
- 1 swimming instructor and first aid instructor
- 8 smart serves
- 1 pool NLS (lifeguard)
This entire program is funded by the generosity of donors like you, so please know that you too are a part of these campers successes. You’re a part of the pride, joy and esteem that comes from learning new skills, getting a valued job, and realizing you’re capable beyond what you thought possible!
In January, we hosted my favourite of the “monthly meet-ups”. A winter weekend in Bancroft Ontario. There were 28 of us total, and we spent the entire weekend outside. The group arrived Friday night at about 9pm, and we kicked off the event with burgers and chocolate fondue around a campfire, where we did “circle time” to update each other on school, jobs and life in general. The group played in the snow, giggled, caught up, and a few enjoyed a relaxing sauna before heading to bed before a full day of activities. Saturday morning was spent on the lake playing football, ice fishing, flying kites, having snow fights and eating over a campfire. In the afternoon, everyone snowshoed through the woods where our final activity was GT Snow Racing.
Saturday night we had a big Christmas dinner. I know it was late, but most hadn’t had the opportunity to have one at home, so better late than never! We began dinner with an etiquette lesson in dining. If you’ve never sat down to a ‘fancy’ dinner with a family or friends, how would you know what fork to use, or which plate is your bread plate? It was a full turkey dinner with stuffing, potatoes, veggies, pies and more. I loved seeing everyone break bread together and stay at the table for hours enjoying good food and great company.
As I’m sure you can imagine, everyone fell asleep very quickly Saturday night, exhausted from the busy day. Many of the teens had never been outside of the GTA in the winter, and they said that the entire day was filled with new activities for them, it was so fun to see them giggle and really let loose, comfortable with themselves and others.
Only a handful came with their own gear, so we had extra jackets, snow pants, boots, mitts, hats, and even socks to keep everyone warm throughout the day. I spent a good chunk of my time helping them get dressed properly for the snow. I can’t tell you how often they were reminded to make sure their socks were totally dry before putting on their boots!
It was an incredible weekend filled with new adventures and activities, and it’s a really wonderful way of aligning our teens with positive environments and role models throughout the year. It’s so important that they feel connected to something bigger than themselves because this positivity stays with them, and really does help them make better decisions for themselves, their families and their communities.
What’s important for you to know is that weekends like this, and this program as a whole is only possible because of your generosity and commitment to Camp Scugog, so thank you. I’m so appreciative of the time, energy and effort you put into making Scugog such a powerful force of change in these teens lives. Below are a few pictures so you can get a glimpse into the year round program that you’re helping to create.
As we approach family day weekend, I wish you joy, laughter and love. As always, please reach out if you have any questions. I’m more than happy to tell you more about the great things you’re helping to accomplish!
Yours in camping,