Archive for April, 2015

Bullying Redux

Posted on April 26, 2015 by Dr. Christopher Thurber

In 1929, Camping and Character: A Camp Experiment in Character Education was published.

Authors Hedley Dimock and Charles Hendry reported on the results of a multiyear study conducted at Camp Ahmek in Ontario. The study sought to uncover the changes evidenced in campers’ behaviour during six weeks at camp, and to understand the mechanisms behind those changes. Among the more than 50 behaviors the authors tracked was bullying. Dimock and Hendry recognized that even small increases in bullying behavior needed to be addressed by the camp leadership. They were also encouraged by huge increases in many prosocial behaviors in youngsters. My favourite is: “Making friendly approach to [an] unlikable boy.”

Over 80 years later, what are the most important things we’ve learned about bullying? The answer has four parts. First, bullying itself is only half the picture. For every bully, there is at least one target. Second, bullying is cyclic. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control confirmed that about three quarters of bullies are also targets and about three quarters of targets turn around to bully another child. Third, bullying is social. Antisocial, to be sure, but it represents a dynamic, complex, interaction whose origins lie in unhealthy relationships. Therefore, the solutions lie not in simple punishment, but in the formation of healthy relationships. And finally, there are often bystanders; onlookers who have the power to say something. “Hey, that’s not cool” or “Dude” or “Lay off” or “C’mon” are examples of benign-sounding comments that have the power to derail nascent bullying.

Camps are uniquely suited to deal with bullying because they are such healthy social environments. At camp, leaders supervise children and have opportunities to educate bullies and targets. Leaders can teach the kinds of prosocial behaviors Dimock, Hendry, and their pioneering predecessors saw so often at camps. This is easier to do than most people think, partly because bullying is so often a misguided attempt to make a social connection. If you can teach a bully how to make a social connection without using coercion, threats, or violence, you have actually met that child’s needs instead of simply punishing his or her misbehavior.

Specifically, camps help children in the following ways:

  • By having the camp staff set a sterling interpersonal example for all children to follow.
  • By seeing beyond the bully alone and including his or her target, plus any bystanders, in an intervention.
  • By strengthening bullies’ fragile sense of themselves by providing opportunities for authentic achievement and human connection in various athletic or artistic domains.
  • By teaching bullies to make social connections through healthy interaction. We all want to belong to a group…it’s just the bullies go about it in antisocial ways.
  • By teaching targets to stand up to bullies in ways that makes bullying unrewarding.
  • By setting, early and often in the camp session, strict guidelines for kindness and generosity…and then heaping on the praise when staff witness prosocial behaviours.
  • By providing the kind of close supervision that allows both bullies and targets to replay unacceptable or unassertive interactions under the guidance of experienced adult staff.
  • By deliberately creating a culture of caring that is perhaps different from school or the neighborhood at home…and then immersing children in that culture.
  • By allowing positive peer pressure to exert itself such that children feel appreciated and rewarded for gentleness, honesty, kindness, and unselfishness.

Camps are not a bullying panacea. Outside of camp, there are powerful forces, such as violent media, that infuse children with the notion that violent, even lethal solutions to vexing social problems are both effective and glorious. Nevertheless, camp is a powerful, positive force for change. Educating bullies, targets, and bystanders is just one of the many ways camp enriches lives and changes the world.

So next time you’re talking with a parent about how your camp handles bullying, provide a better answer than “We don’t tolerate bullying.” Instead, explain how your staff is trained to help children make friends. That is the single best way to prevent antisocial behaviour. Give everyone a sense of belonging.

Then, explain how you use a combination of pre-season online training and in-person on-site training to train your staff to spot bullying, teach prosocial behaviors, encourage bystanders to be “upstanders,” and give opportunities for bullies to make amends. There will always be some kinds of egregious misbehaviors that require expulsion from camp, but most instances of bullying are below this safety threshold. Showcase the strength of your camp by outlining how well prepared your staff is to prevent bullying and respond thoughtfully when it occurs.

This article originally appeared in the Week-Ender blog, a product of Camp Business magazine. To subscribe to this content, visit

Call for Assistance – Temporary Foreign Workers

Posted on April 24, 2015 by Government Relations Committee

Dear CCA Camps,

I am contacting you on behalf of the Canadian Camping Association (CCA) Lobbying Committee.

We need your help. Recent changes to the federal Temporary Foreign Workers Program are making it extremely challenging for camps to hire American and International staff. Canadian camps have always taken pride in hiring mature, skilled individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. These staff help create a diverse, safe and caring culture within our camps ensuring that the highest of standards can be met. They often are campers who grew up in our camps as well. While camps prioritize hiring Canadians, our international staff fill gaps in our staffing that we are unable to fill with qualified Canadian applicants.

The recent elevated changes to the costs and logistics associated with bringing foreign workers into Canada will make it virtually impossible for some camps to hire them for this coming summer and in the future. The government originally was very supportive of our cause, but now has postponed scheduled meetings and is very slow to communicate with us and literally is not responding.

We are asking all CCA camps (regardless of whether or not your hire international staff) to help us by contacting any Conservative MP that you may know- either by sending a letter indicating your concern or by a phone call. If you do have any very close contacts or a personal relationship with Minister Alexander or any Conservative MP please contact Mark Diamond ( so that he can determine the best way to communicate with such a person to help present our position.

Mark Diamond, Owner/Director | Camp Manitou

April 30 is NOT just your tax deadline!

Posted on April 22, 2015 by CCA Communications Committee

April 30 is also the deadline to register your camp for the Roberta Bondar Challenge. Visit the website today and submit your application.

Learn more at

Celebrate National Camp T-Shirt day on May 1st 2015!

Posted on April 17, 2015 by CCA Communications Committee

Camp Shirt Day Poster 2015 English copy - web

Philomena Lowes (1921-2015)

Posted on by CCA Communications Committee

Philomena LowesIt is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the passing away of Philomena Lowes peacefully at her home on Wednesday April 15, 2015.  She was 93 years old.

Phil was a beloved wife, mother and grandmother.  She was the co-founder and a director at Camp Timberlane.  She will always be remembered as our “camp mom” and the “glue that kept everything together”.  She will be dearly missed by all of us.

The family has requested a private funeral service.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Barry, Brit and Kim and the rest of the Lowes family.

Donations in Phil’s honour can be made by contacting One Family Fund at 416-489-9687 or by clicking on the following link

TFW-Urgent Information Required-Deadline April 13

Posted on April 7, 2015 by Jill Dundas

In order to move forward with the government discussions on temporary foreign workers, we need to provide collated data based on this survey.

Please take a couple of minutes to respond to the survey questions and provide responses to no later than Monday, April 13.

Thank you so much for your cooperation with this.

CCA Announces 2014 Awards

Posted on April 6, 2015 by CCA Communications Committee

Mike Stewart receives CCA’s second highest recognition, the Jack Pearse Award of Honour.

For several years, Mike has significantly enhanced CCA communications through his work with the CCA website and social media. Mike also provided leadership at the 2012 Canadian Camp Directors Course and organized the Cross Canada Tour for the International Camping Congress in Quebec City in 2008. We continue to benefit from Mike’s conscientious and competent contributions.

Craig Perlmutter receives the CCA Special Recognition Award for his work in writing a course designed specifically for camps to replace the more onerous Small Vessel Operator Proficiency course. The course piloted in summer 2014 is awaiting final approval by Transport Canada.

Celebrate National Camp T-shirt Day May 1, 2015

Posted on April 1, 2015 by CCA Communications Committee

Camp Shirt Day Poster 2015 English copy - web