Archive for November, 2009

Global Research by Canadian Camp Director, Dr. Stephen Fine

Posted on November 25, 2009 by spreston

At the 10th Biennial Research Symposium of the Coalition for Education in the Outdoors (CEO) at Indiana University’s Bradford Woods campus on January 15-17, 2010, Dr. Stephen Fine is presenting, Fostering Cosmopolitan Citizenship through Camp Experience: Comparative Research in North America and Central Asia, a paper co-authored with Tulshig Tuvshin of the Mongolian Camping Association.

Dr. Stephen Fine is Co-Director of the Hollows Camp, Cookstown, Ontario. Tulshig Tuvshin is Director General of the International Children’s Centre, Nairamdal, Mongolia, the largest camp in the country established in 1978.

The collaboration between Stephen and Tulshig began through the International Camping Fellowship and a meeting at the American Camp Association’s 2006 Conference in Chicago. Subsequent meetings resulted in Stephen hosting Tulshig at his southern Ontario camp and Tulshig inviting Stephen to visit camps in Mongolia. Early in 2007, Stephen and his wife traveled to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia via Seoul, Korea. After presenting a keynote address at a conference, Perspectives of Children’s Camp Development, hosted by the Mongolian Camping Association, Stephen visited five camps in north-eastern Mongolia. With an ancient nomadic culture and close ties to Russia, where camps are prevalent, Mongolia has approximately sixty children’s camps in a country with a population of 2.9 million people.

The research data was collected in both countries through dialogue with camp directors and Likert-scale surveys (the most widely used scale in questionnaires and surveys in which respondents are asked to state their level of agreement) with open-ended questions for current campers and camper/staff alumni.

The results in both Canada and Mongolia confirmed that “camps are optimal learning environments that transcend national and/or cultural boundaries and can effectively prepare youth for successful community interaction at local and global levels…Camp experience increased self-regulation, self-confidence, independence and recognition of strengths, weaknesses and potentials. Habits of personal hygiene and action towards a fit and healthy lifestyle were established…participants improved communication skills, accepted others regardless of ethnicity or social standing, realized the value and practicality of teamwork, and improved skills in group planning and organization. Learning…included a broader knowledge for sustaining clean air and water locally and globally, the value for contact with nature and a commitment toward environmental responsibility.”

The study concludes, “Perhaps in order to assure the development of cosmopolitan citizens, camp experience should become mandated as a compulsory component of education internationally…Camp offers opportunities for the positive development of youth regardless of cultural background and can assist them to take an active role globally as well as in their local communities.”

– Catherine Ross, CCA/ACC Communications

2009 – A Record-Setting Year With BackCheck!

Posted on November 17, 2009 by spreston

Hundreds of camps from British Columbia across the country to Newfoundland have discovered the simplest, quickest, most cost-effective way to accomplish Criminal Record Checks on camp staff is to use the services of BackCheck.  In the 2009 season, BackCheck processed 7,403 requests from Canadian camps – up from 7,101 in 2008 and well above the 2006 figure of 2,857 when CCA/ACC first partnered with BackCheck.

Of the 7,403 applications processed for the 2008-2009 year, 24 (fewer than 1%) were “Not Clear”; however, the fact that there were some, emphasizes the importance of this step in choosing staff to work in Canadian camps.

Clients have several options: the traditional paper based application or the paperless online version myBackCheck .  A camp can either sign up with BackCheck to use either version, or for the online “Applicant Paid” service, have the applicant access a criminal check directly from the CCA/ACC website, pay for it ($25.00 plus GST) and have the results returned to them online with 24 hours.  This avoids delays and return trips to the local police station.

Thanks to the partnership agreement between CCA/ACC and BackCheck, one dollar of every application goes back to support the work of CCA/ACC and one dollar goes back to the Provincial Camping Association where the application originated.

We are all winners!  Camps are confident in their choice of staff; campers are safe and the national and provincial associations gain financial support.

Our sincere thanks to Brian Ward-Hall, Director of Sales-Specialty Markets, BackCheck for his excellent service to the camping community!

Jacqui Raill Honoured by Association des Camps certifies du Québec

Posted on by spreston

Each year, the Honour Award is awarded to an individual working in certified camps who, through an exceptional contribution to the community and/or within the framework of Association des camps certifiés du Québec activities has contributed to shaping the current image of our industry.

With this award, the Association des camps certifies du Québec seeks to pay homage to an entire career, recognizing the generosity, effort and commitment of this individual to his or her camp and involvement in our association.

This is the ultimate recognition of our appreciation for the remarkable achievements of this person in the service of camps.

Jacqui Raill (gauche) reçoit Récompense de Marco Gendreau

Canada Healthy Camps Study Update – November 2009

Posted on November 16, 2009 by spreston

In summer 2009, twelve Canadian camps participated in a first year pilot of the Canadian Healthy Camps Study to research health in Canadian camps by submitting weekly data online of illness and injury at their camps.

Several years ago, research began in American camps.  The preliminary results and data are beginning to supply useful information, which could be applicable to staff training or the review of procedures.

  • Both campers and staff were more likely to become ill at camp than to become injured.
  • Communicable diseases accounted for 42% of camper illness and 41% of staff illness.
  • Head injuries accounted for 29% of all injuries to day campers and 20% of injuries to resident campers.
  • Injuries were more likely to occur midweek (Wednesday and Thursday) and between noon and 6:00 p.m.
  • A significant number of finger injuries were reported among staff caused by knives used during food preparation.
  • In resident camps, failure to wear protective equipment was reported in 15% of camper injuries and 16% of staff injuries.

The Canadian Healthy Camps Study team is:
Jeff Bradshaw, President CCA/ACC
Stephen Fine, Ph.D., CAIS/Simon Fraser University
Charles Tator, C.M., M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.S., University of Toronto/UHN
Sandy Wells, B.P.H.E, M.Sc., Thinkfirst/Pensez d’abord Canada

The team is meeting in November 2009 to begin the process of amending the U.S. study to the Canadian context and also to identify and approach potential donors.

Consider participating in summer 2010.  Camps learned some valuable lessons after a summer coping with H1N1.  A thorough gathering and analysis of data will serve to provide better information to ensure the future health and safety of our campers and staff.

For more information on joining the study contact Dr. Stephen Fine

Campers Plant ‘Wish Trees’

Posted on November 5, 2009 by spreston

Andrea Koehle Jones, Executive Director of Love Trees is a journalist, author, environmental entrepreneur and mother of two children, living on Bowen Island, British Columbia. Her company offers a unique educational tree planting program, which combines Andrea’s two passions: children and the environment. When a child plants a tree, a very meaning and powerful experience, they get to make a wish for the planet. Andrea calls them Wish Trees. Recently, Andrea traveled to Africa to plant trees with the native children. A video of this experience can be viewed on Andrea’s website.

In spring 2009, Love Trees became a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Billion Tree Campaign and Andrea pledged to plant 5,000 trees by December 2009.

As a former Ontario camper, counsellor and program director, on May 24, 2009, Andrea contacted her former director, Catherine Ross, for support. Andrea was willing to deliver tree seedlings, free of charge, to camps that would commit to a planting program involving their campers. The deadline for ordering seedlings was the first week of June.

Given the tight timing, Catherine contacted Jeff Bradshaw, President of CCA/ACC for his help. Together they emailed the information to camps in their immediate areas. In no time, twelve Ontario camps signed on: Ak-O-Mak, Cairn, Glen Bernard, Kahquah, Manitou, McGovern, Mi-A-Kon-Da, URJ Camp George, Tamarack, Tapawingo, Tawingo and Wenonah. Catherine put Andrea in touch with BC President, Hartley Banack, which resulted in Easter Seals Camp Winfield near Kelowna participating in the program.

In late June, Andrea arranged for the delivery of 2300 seedlings to Camp Wenonah, Ontario. These were then quickly distributed to participating camps. Shortly after arriving at camp for the start of the summer season, hundreds of Ontario campers had the pleasure and satisfaction of planting their tree and making a contribution to the environment. In future years, campers will enjoy watching the growth of their trees!

With sincere thanks to Andrea for supplying the seedlings and to all the campers and staff who planted them and helped to make the world a better place.

– Catherine Ross, Communications Officer CCA/ACC

‘Living Lightly Lab’ Teaches Environmental Sustainability

Posted on by spreston

Glen Bernard’s “Living Lightly Lab” was completed on June 30, 2009, just in time for the arrival of the campers.  Glen Bernard Camp for girls, founded in 1922 by Mary S. Edgar, is located near Sundridge, Ontario. Owner/Director, Jocelyn Palm, began construction on this latest project on December 1, 2008, after considerable research into alternate energy technology.  The 12 metre square building, which is set into the base of a rock hill, is a completely sustainable classroom.  Joc’s aim is to educate campers in the summer months, and school groups for the rest of the year, about renewable energy and environmental sustainability.  Camp is the perfect place to teach children to be good stewards of our planet and how to act responsibly for the sake of future generations.  The unique structure is equipped to teach about heating, alternate lighting, alternate energy and other aspects of green living.  Joc, a former secondary teacher with degrees in science and education, says: “It is a three-step process; first is knowledge (getting the information/facts).  Then you must care and then you must act to make change.”

Because the design concepts are so new, Joc challenged the architects, engineers and contractors about how to do the job, and then, she quips, she had the privilege of paying them!  The fully accessible “green roof” features two large gardens.  The access ramp and stairs to the roof are fitted with grates to clean campers’ shoes and prevent deer and moose from wandering into the gardens.  On one side, the “extensive garden” is planted with sedum, a combination of several basic, non-vascular plants that do not require watering except in a serious drought (no problem in Ontario in summer 2009!).  This ground cover, which will not exceed a height 10cm, provides insulation for the building and many other bonuses.  On the opposite side is the “intensive garden” for flowers and vegetables.  Seventeen bags of manufactured, organic soil cover an area 9.85m long, and an average of 2.5m wide.  The garden currently produces tomatoes, carrots, radish, beans, peas and basil, and marigolds and petunias for diversity – and because they look pretty!  Next year, Joc hopes to replace the flowers with ones that are not only pretty but also edible. The trusses that support the roof are very strong to bear the weight of groups of people and equipment for some of the activities offered, as well as the two roof top gardens and the retained water they hold within them.

Each garden has its own drainage system which collects any excess rain water for measurement.  The campers can compare the water retention of the two types of gardens to determine the efficiency of each.  The rain that falls on the rest of the roof drains into pipes which are connected to rain barrels at the base of the building.  A hand pump on the roof is used to recycle this water for further watering of the gardens, if necessary.

In the centre of each garden is a ciralight, basically a jazzy skylight whose reflecting, aluminum panels provide enough light to illuminate the classroom below on even the dullest day.  Each ciralight is equipped with a small solar powered motor that the panels to follow the sun, maximizing the amount of light reflected into the room below.

Two large solar panels are attached on the south side of the building near the roof.  A weather centre, positioned between the solar panels, measures air pressure, humidity, temperature, wind direction and speed, rainfall and the UV index. Working with this equipment and recording the results create the opportunity for discussions on global warming, weather trends and the threat of skin cancer.  The camp plans to keep daily weather logs to compare any evidence of climate change.  A third manually-moveable solar panel is installed behind the building.  The campers will direct this panel to follow the sun and realize the optimum energy collection.

Sufficient solar energy is collected to heat and light the building and power any lab or audio visual equipment used.  Excess power is stored in batteries to power the building after sunset and some feeds into the camp’s grid to be used elsewhere on the property.  Joc estimates a savings of 5% on the hydro bill.

The interior of the building is one large spacious room.  The flooring is made from recycled tires, a product manufactured in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.  It is comfortable to walk upon and easily maintained.  Though the double-glazed windows are small, a design feature to reduce heat loss in winter and help keep the room cool in summer, they are positioned high for maximum light.

Sahar Ghafouri-Bakhsh, a fourth year student at the University of Toronto in Environmental Science, and Aliya Hollingsworth, an English and Environmental Studies student at Queen’s University, teach Earth Education and the science of sustainability to the campers in one and one-half hour scheduled classes.  School groups have the advantage of experiencing the required environmental curriculum, not just reading or hearing about it.  Operating the miniature solar or hydrogen cars is popular with the students as they learn about the technology.

Joc expects that as the technology becomes more refined and more widely used the cost will be less prohibitive.  In the meantime, Glen Bernard Camp challenges the camping community to become the leaders in environmental sustainability education and to do whatever can be done NOW to teach campers how to sustain the planet’s resources for the benefit of future generations of campers.

– Catherine Ross