Archive for October, 2014

SterlingBackcheck Expands Service with New Positions of Trust Check

Posted on October 27, 2014 by Catherine Ross

Rod Piukkala is Vice President with SterlingBackCheck. He introduces the new Position of Trust Check (PTC) program for those camps requiring vulnerable sector checks in his letter below.


SterlingBackcheck_Logo-01Transparent - CopyFinally, a solution to meet your often unmet needs…another SterlingBackCheck industry innovation!

SterlingBackcheck announces a holistic alternative for those employers and organizations who currently utilise or require Vulnerable Sector Checks for applicable staff and volunteer positions. This information is also important for individuals who lead or volunteer their time in the community and the organisation requires a Vulnerable Sector Check.

Please see the attached quick read collateral pieces and the program highlights below.

Position of Trust Check (PTC) highlights :

  • Results mirror the same three part check provided by Local Police Services (Our Canadian Criminal Record Check and E-PIC checks are completed in 1 business day or less, which enables “clear” individuals to continue in the process allowing you the option to await the PardonCheck processes).
  • Built to process clear individuals quickly – while slowing the process and raising a flag in the case of potentially problematic applicants significantly improving on-boarding times for a high percentage of clear applicants
  • Eliminates potential risk of police department paper document alteration / forgery
  • SterlingBackCheck will not charge your Company or Organization for positive “PardonCheck hits”, applicants are referred to their local police service if we are unable to complete
  • Eliminates applicant travel (cost and time)….all Online
  • No fingerprint requirements for the Position of Trust query
  • Human Rights and Privacy Act compliant process
  • Verifiable and reusable certificates available (results from a work related PTC may be re-used in the volunteer community and vice-versa)
  • Services delivered by SterlingBackCheck in co-operation with our Canadian Police Service partner(s) and DIRECTLY with the Parole Board of Canada.
  • Consistent process, consistent pricing, and consistent results
  • Position of Trust check is required once in a lifetime…
    Where your organisation utilises ongoing Canadian Criminal Record Checks and E-PIC (max. every three years) – individuals should never require another Position of Trust Check in the future. This makes “renewal” with a CCRC/E-PIC check (only) much more convenient, lower cost and very fast!

To discuss specific applications and circumstances please contact me directly via email or phone . We can NOW meet all your needs with a customized process. This service can bring order to the chaos you may be facing!

Please call me and we can discuss in greater detail.

All the best,


Phone: (647) 981 5133

Dear Parents & Guardians Alike

Posted on October 21, 2014 by Tamsin Andrews

Dear Parents and Guardians Alike,

Please send your kids to camp.
For your benefit. For theirs.
For the camp and for the campers there.
Please send your kids to camp.

AOuareau-climbingt camp, they will be a part of a community all their own. They will become emotionally attached to burnt rope on their wrist, and have a song for any occasion on cue, and forget how to shower or flush, and think sunscreen is moisturizer. And they won’t bat an eye at the thought that it is weird.

They will fight over who gets to set the table, and 7:00 a.m. no longer sounds absurd to wake up to on a summer morning. They will learn to do things on their own, and they will learn to rely on others. They will learn how to survive on their own for two weeks, and they will learn how to help each other through it.

They will grow up on summers away from TV, and forget Facebook exists. They will relish the joy of sleeping outside, swatting mosquitoes at campfire, swimming everyday. They will savour the feeling of pushing water behind them with a paddle, the curl of earth under their feet as they scale a mountain, the whoosh of air behind the tail of an arrow as they fire. They will forget about appearances, relish tan lines, recognize the beauty of a smile over anything else.

They will strive for a job that fulfills them and pushes them over the final paycheque. Or maybe they will labour all June for money to balance the counsellor job. Or they will leave the camp behind with a heavy heart. Either way, they will learn to pick a job they love over the paycheque they want.

They will branch out further in life, used to leaving home. They will know how to lose track of time, knowing time only by activity change. They will appreciate downtime, but love flurries of activity. They will be there for one week, two weeks, a month, but it will end up influencing their lives.

So please send your kids to camp. Send them so they will learn to set tables and make beds and wake early. Send them so they will know how to be a leader, paddle a canoe, weave a bracelet, and sing as loud as they can. Send your kids to camp so they will learn to love, learn to love themselves, and learn to love others. Send your kids to camp because they will realize who they are, or who they want to be.

And prepare yourselves for a year of camp stories, and for a flurry of songs. Prepare to learn names of kids you’ve never met. And for your kids to have a need for sunshine, a need for campfires and companionship.

Because camp is an infectious melody, and a life-changing time, and a crazy, indescribable summer.

Send your kids to camp.
For your benefit, for theirs.

Please, send your kids to camp.

Your friendly neighborhood camp kid

YMCA/YWCA Director Praises Bondar Challenge

Posted on October 20, 2014 by Catherine Ross

Earthbound Kids 2In 2014, 30 camps (including 16 returning camps) from British Columbia to New Brunswick participated in the Roberta Bondar Foundation photo challenge delivered by a total of eighty-six trainers/leaders. A few camps continued the program into their fall schedule.

The theme for 2014 was Connecting with the Natural Environment. Winners from the hundreds of submissions will be announced in December and information on participation in 2015 will follow in the New Year.

Read Luc Cousineau’s (Director of YMCA-YWCA Guelph Camp Nagiwa) assessment of the program in below, and consider adding the Bondar Challenge to your camp program next summer:

I cannot say enough about the program – the communication from the Foundation, the equipment provided, and the teaching aids. This is an excellent program for camp and for campers, and I would expect YMCA-YWCA of Guelph Camp Nagiwa to continue its participation well into the future. Our camp has tried in the past to develop a Photography/Digital Media program with little success. With the introduction of the Bondar Challenge into our existing program, our staff was given excellent training, direction, and goals to accomplish with our campers. The results have been overwhelming with campers as young as seven years of age taking photographs of exceptional quality. What an excellent addition to our camp this year.

ChariTree Is Taking Root!

Posted on October 13, 2014 by Andrea Koehle Jones

This past summer on a family, cross country, camping trip, Andrea Koehle Jones, Executive Director of the ChariTree Foundation, visited several camps to witness the progress of some of the 100,000 trees that Canadian campers have planted since the inception of the CCA Tree Planting Program in 2009.

Andrea’s report describes the program’s successes and challenges, and Andrea’s appreciation of the provincial representatives who manage the program and the campers who do the work:

Canadian Family Completes Tree Planting Trip

charitree foundationIf a seedling is growing in the forest does anybody notice? This summer on a drive back to British Columbia from Ontario with my family, I learned the answer is a definite yes. For the last five years, the ChariTree Foundation – a children’s environmental tree planting charity I founded in 2006 – has been giving trees to campers at Canadian Camping Association camps across Canada. In that time, children at CCA camps across Canada have planted nearly 100,000 trees.

Every year I receive encouraging photos and reports from camps about the program. Comments like these make me feel like I am doing something important and ChariTree is on the right track:

“We successfully planted 300 saplings at Camp Wenonah in July this year! It was a unique experience for campers and staff alike, providing them with the opportunity to bond with nature and to contribute to the land of the Camp they all hold so dear. Every camper, ages 8-18, had the chance to plant a tree in the location of their choice- some groups even planted tree gardens near their cabins which they could revisit and watch with care. Thank you ChariTree Foundation for providing us with this wonderful opportunity.” – Janette, Assistant Director – Camp Wenonah

 “We had lots of fun with this tree planting project. With a certified arborist on our team we made good use of the trees with strategic placement while making it a fun time for our campers.” – Derrik, Tripper – Lake Scugog Camp

I’ve always dreamed of seeing these trees myself but living on a tiny island off the coast of Vancouver made such a dream unrealistic until this summer. In June I decided to purchase a used pop-up trailer and drive with my husband and two children to Ontario to visit my parents. I instantly thought it would be the ideal opportunity to drop in on some camps, see the trees and hear about the program from camp staff. I also think it’s important to report back to all of ChariTree’s generous donors that their donations are making a real difference and continue to grow in so many wonderful ways.

School ended early due to the British Columbia teachers’ strike so we packed up and hit the road with our nine-year-old and eleven-year-old for a once-in-a-lifetime geography lesson. After eight days driving and camping across the northern US and a memorable visit with the grandparents on Lake Simcoe, we geared-up to head back across Canada.

The kids were excited for the next phase of the journey — to see the trees their mom had donated to summer camps. But which camps do we visit? The question was not as simple as I first imagined; there were at least three camps within two hours from our departure point in Orillia, Ontario that had received trees. It was satisfying to realize that the ChariTree Foundation was on the ground growing in so many places. It’s something I was reminded of again and again as we continued to drive west.

Canadian Camping Association CharitreeThe first camp we visited was the YMCA Geneva Park on Lake Couchiching just outside Orillia. Camp youth leader, Tim Clement, welcomed us and took us around a grass field where a few weeks earlier campers had planted along the outside edge some beautiful little jack pines that will become a windbreak and an ideal sun shade.

Tim told us he was pleasantly surprised that many of the campers chose tree planting over more traditional camp activities. He said planting seedlings is something many campers have never experienced. Tim said they found it appealing that they could be part of planting trees that will grow for generations, beautify the camp and help the environment.

This story was reinforced to us when we visited Assiniboine Park zoo camp in Winnipeg. The camp takes in a large group of inner city kids. These kids don’t have many chances to experience nature so the park makes a big effort to allow kids to play in the trees by holding a week-long camp taking kids up in bucket cranes to see seeds in the tree canopy. They even set-up zip lines in the trees for the kids. Trees from ChariTree also play a big role in this program showing these kids the wonders of nature. A group of trees the youth planted on a section of perimeter road around the zoo has been left in a natural state for five years. In amongst the grass and mature jack pines are small pine seedlings sprouting up. Karen Pearce, Director of Grounds, Assiniboine Park Conservancy, says the kids that planted these trees ask to come back year after year to see how the trees are growing. It’s great to see these youth develop a sense of responsibility and pride for the environment in this way.

ChariTree has always believed there are some powerful lessons to be gained when campers are able to visit the trees they planted from previous summers. One of those lessons is that from a small idea a big thing grows. We experienced that ‘aha moment’ ourselves when we visited Kathy and Gary Koehler at Camp Kasota West on Sylvan Lake in Alberta. As the Alberta CCA rep responsible for taking tree orders and making sure camps in her province receive their ChariTrees, Kathy has played a vital role in ChariTree’s summer camp program.

Gary showed us where campers have been planting ChariTrees over the years. On our exploration we found some young seedlings planted earlier this summer as well as some strong and 8 ‘ tall blue spruce growing near the lakeshore that must have been four to five years old. To think they started out as tiny seedlings was inspiring.

Our 8,000 km road trip taught us that Mother Nature can also be harsh and cold. We experienced just about everything she could throw at us — tornado warnings, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and forest fires. At Caddy Lake Girl Guide Camp in Manitoba’s beautiful Whiteshell Provincial Park, we found ChariTrees meeting another need. Camp director Lindsay Lodge led us up to the tent platforms on a small ridge behind the camp kitchen. A couple of years ago a severe windstorm had knocked down many of the mature spruce and pine trees. The camp was helping replant the area with trees from ChariTree and campers were getting the opportunity to see how trees can help heal a scarred landscape.

Sometimes Mother Nature is not so kind to trees. Massive flooding this summer prompted Manitoba to declare a state of emergency and call on the military to help with sandbagging efforts. At Assiniboine Park, Karen showed us where the Assiniboine River had spilled over and flooded an area where campers had planted ChariTrees in previous years.

Earlier I mentioned the role provincial reps have in helping the tree program succeed. It was great to talk to Kathy about her experience and hear about some of the challenges of coordinating the orders and pick-up of the trees. I gained a better appreciation of the logistics required to arrange dates and times for multiple camps to pick up their trees. So thank you so much Kathy and all provincial reps and of course the CCA’s Catherine Ross for all the important work you do.

Some of the processes I have implemented, like the online order form are designed to simplify the process. Still, sometimes things fall through the cracks. I was disappointed to learn of instances where camps never received the trees they ordered, or were unable to make the pickup dates and so their trees were given to other camps. I will be taking some time to think of ways to improve the ordering and delivery process so these kinds of omissions don’t happen. I would appreciate any suggestions to make the program better.

Looking back on our trip and camp check-in, I realize the partnership between the ChariTree Foundation and the Canadian Camping Association has established some deep roots. Trees are springing up across the country and campers are truly making their world a better place. When campers plant their Wish Trees they get to make a wish for the world – my wish is that the programs continues to grow and even more children will have the opportunity to get out in nature and plant a Wish Tree.

Written by Andrea Koehle Jones, Executive Director ChariTree Foundation

A great idea worth emulating!

Posted on October 6, 2014 by Catherine Ross

Barb Gray,
Director, Ontario Easter Seals Camps

Barb Gray, Director of Ontario Easter Seals Camps, knows how to make camping research work for her!

In a note to Dr. Stephen Fine, Chair of the CCA Research Committee, Barb writes:

“I use the data from the University of Waterloo Canadian Summer Camp Research Project when applying for grants to make the proposal more professional by providing quantifiable data. I also use the research findings when speaking to our Board members, Senior Management and fundraising staff as most never attended camp as children and believe that summer camp is a luxury. I use the research findings with case studies of our campers to make the presentations more powerful.

Thanks so much for doing this research and showing the amazing benefits attending a summer camp has for our campers.”