June 21 – Norfolk County summer camps are a lot like the Hotel California, folks check out anytime but never truly leave.
Take Simcoe’s Jenna Schott for example. After attending as a child she went on to become a leader – a position she still holds ten years later.
“I’ve never left,” laughed the Simcoe Composite School grad.
“There was maybe one summer that I ventured off to a different camp and then came right back the next summer. My parents both worked so it was the only option for me and it was always really fun. I’ve always liked working with kids, and with my career path right now as a teacher, this was the perfect fit.”
Schott isn’t the only camp leader who has been inspired by a leadership role, Ryan Foster, the regional coordinator, switched majors at Brock University to pursue a masters in recreation after working for years as a leader.
“My first summer, there was a really shy camper that came in Week 1 and would only cling onto me or a couple of the other leaders,” Foster, a Holy Trinity grad, recalls. “He was with us for five weeks and by the end of that time was playing with other kids and I keep always thinking of that story to get me through any rough moments or early mornings.”
Both Schott and Foster knew working alongside kids for a summer would be an enjoyable experience, but understanding how much influence they’d have on youngsters was impossible.
“I think I took it for granted coming into it, but one thing that made me realize how special it is was when kids who have outgrown the program, some of them will stop in and say hi because they miss it and just want to see the leaders they grew up with,” said Schott. “That makes you realize the impact you’ve had.”
Added Foster, “We have a great team of coordinators and leaders that are all great with the kids and foster those relationships in their own unique ways. Different leaders that we have connect with different kids with different personalities. There’s always a personality that will line up with a kid.”
Day camps this summer will be held in Simcoe, Delhi and a new Outdoor Adventure Camp in Waterford. Participants range in age from 4-13. Each child is placed in a group with programming tailored to their age. Activities include arts and crafts, swimming, and outdoor play.
All leaders are trained in first-aid, CPR, emergency procedures, bullying prevention, inclusion, healthy eating, aquatic safety and more.
Families interested can attend a Summer Camp Open House June 22 at the Simcoe Recreation Centre from 2-4 p.m.
To book a 15-minute staff appointment, contact Recreation Coordinator Merisa Kriwez at 519-426-8866 x 2222.
The roster of leaders, Foster said, is one of many skills and personalities.
“We’ve got a great, close-knit team, we really do,” he said.
Schott advised any parents thinking about enrolling their children to take the plunge.
“I’m a little biased maybe because it’s been my life but I think camp is one of those experiences that every kid should have because of the memories they make here,” Schott added. “I remember things from when I was a kid at camp. It’s a great part of the summer and a great way to meet kids that they maybe don’t see in school.”