Archive for May, 2015

Rising food costs a concern? Foodbuy can help!

Posted on May 24, 2015 by CCA Communications Committee

Foodbuy Canada - New LogoMore Canadian camps are discovering that Foodbuy is the answer to feeding campers well while staying within the budget.

Contact CCA Foodbuy representative, Brian Laughton, at to access a great service that saves you money.

How Do We Treat Each Other?

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Dr. Christopher Thurber

How do we treat each other? was the question the leadership director at one of North America’s oldest overnight camps asked the staff one evening. It seemed to be an inane question, given the label of “brotherhood” that the staff had given itself for decades. But the silence in the room suggested legitimate soul-searching had begun. The leadership director, Tom Giggi, was also silent, prompting even more serious reflection. (One of Tom’s strengths is asking good questions; another is his ability to wait for thoughtful replies, rather than answering himself for the group.)

Back when I was a camper, I worshipped my cabin leader. At a camp with strong internal leadership development, it was easy. The prestige of becoming a staff member, borne in part from the competitive selection process, coupled with the pure kindness the staff exuded, meant that most campers at Belknap grew up wanting to become cabin leaders. But now Tom was asking us to peel back the outward layer of kindness and examine its internal purity.

My thoughts drifted to a version of that question I’d been asked by my division head, Mark Goodman, back in 1984, my leader-in-training year. It was my first time working at camp for the full nine-week season and the first time the fabric of kindness that ostensibly bound the staff into a brotherhood started showing tears near the seams.

“Why is Saul being excluded?” Mark had asked me, speaking then about one of my fellow LITs. My defensive response included a litany of Saul’s foibles. “Well,” I began, “he can be kind of annoying. I know he loves camp, but his over-the-top enthusiasm comes off as insincere. And he’s constantly asking questions he knows the answers to, just to make conversation. And he’s clingy. Sometimes people want to be in smaller groups during nights off, but Saul is always there glomming on.”

I went on for several minutes and Mark just looked at me, patiently nodding. Eventually I realized that I hadn’t answered Mark’s question at all. I’d answered the related question, “What don’t you like about Saul?” but not “Why is Saul being excluded?” Mark was still silent. I swallowed hard, then spoke.

“Saul is being excluded because the rest of us LITs are excluding him.” Mark nodded, almost imperceptibly. I took a deep breath. “Now I’m thinking that one of the reasons Saul is clingy and over-the-top is because we’re not including him like we should be.” Mark’s eyes widened a bit. I continued: “You think if we treated Saul differently, he might change. You want us to include him more.” Finally, Mark spoke. “That would seem like the kind, campy thing to do.”

And so began a new chapter in my understanding of how camp helps people grow. It’s a social microcosm that serves as a proving ground for almost every interpersonal transgression and its positive opposite. The dialectics of bullying—befriending, gossiping—confronting, rejecting—accepting, prejudicing—understanding, hating—loving, and, yes, excluding—including, all infiltrate camp at different points in the summer. The key is to leverage the collective strengths of your staff to create a positive community. To do that takes regular, honest reflection and discussion.

Every staff group (indeed every group of human beings anywhere) will have conflicts and will, at times, mistreat one another. Having come to terms with that truth, camp professionals can prevent burnout, breakdown and belligerence by facilitating at least one pre-season and one mid-season discussion that begins with How do we treat one another?

What followed the pregnant pause in the lodge the night Tom posed that question to the staff was a great discussion that included:


  • Silly habits that had grown into traditions unintentionally hurtful to others
  • Greater awareness of others’ needs and ideas about providing support
  • Increased motivation to be inclusive, for the good of all
  • Sincere appreciation for the genuine kindness staff do show one another
  • Renewed sensitivity about how the hierarchy among staff can become a barrier to candid communication

Most of the staff left the in-service training that night encouraged by the group’s insights and armed with two or three concrete new practices that were generous, inclusive, and more in line with the vision of leadership they had romanticized as campers. Only now, that vision of pure kindness seemed closer to reality. One staff member summarized it well: “We were doing some things to ourselves that we never would have tolerated having campers do to one another.”

In pre-camp, plan a time or two to have your staff discuss their behind-the-scenes treatment of each other. Does the way they treat each other after hours, during time off, and away from campers truly reflect the values they purport to embrace as a member of your camp?

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

New Camp Marine Module Boating Course

Posted on May 5, 2015 by Government Relations Committee

Dear CCA Camps,

The Government Relations Committee is proud and relieved to finally send this very important email update regarding the newly approved Camp Marine Module boating course, which we have successfully created and designed over the last few years. We are very pleased with the result, albeit a bit later than we had hoped, but certainly in time for this summer for camps across Canada.

The new course has been created to replace the Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP) and Marine Emergency Duties A3 (MED A3) requirement for many camp boats that qualify through a certain set of conditions set by Transport Canada. Other factors, including location and vessel size, may limit certain camp vessels from the use of this course. This certification will allow camp boat operators to carry 7-12 passengers plus crew (as opposed to just 6 passengers) as long as they also hold a valid Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) and a minimum of Standard First Aid, among a few other requirements. The new course is 1.5 days in length including some practical hands-on components. Some camps may be required to add an additional half-day to complete Chapter 17 entitled “Navigation”, should Transport Canada deem this a requirement based on a camp’s location and waterways travelled.

A Quality Management Manual (QMM) has been developed to explain the details surrounding course specifics, course participants, instructors, the use of this new certification, the likely conditions required by Transport Canada to be met thru the Marine Technical Review Board (MTRB) process and all the details regarding the examinations.

Thanks to the financial involvement of the Canadian Camping Association (CCA) and that of a number of Provincial Associations, there is no fee associated with this new course, unless camps need to hire someone to instruct the course. Details regarding the Instructor approval process (for camp staff or otherwise with the required experience and qualifications) are part of the QMM but camps may also hire instructors already approved by Transport Canada by visiting the appropriate CCA and Ontario Camps Association (OCA) web pages for their contact information. The OCA office will play an important role of documenting and tracking of approved instructors and certified boat operators; these details are also included in the QMM.

In concert with getting boat operators certified with this new course, camps will be required to follow the Transport Canada procedures to apply for the appropriate MTRB decisions for their camp vessels.

These decisions will officially exempt camps from the SVOP and MED-A3 requirement for 7-12 passengers by allowing the use of this new certification to be used instead.


Please visit the Ontario Camps Association website to see that Association’s information.

Monitor this site as it will be updated in the near future.


Please download:

In  summary, if a camp would like their boats to carry 7-12 passengers without having boat operators with the SVOP and MED-A3 certifications, assuming boats are already Commercially registered vessels, then they need to do the following:

1 – Contact Transport Canada to begin the process to apply for an MTRB exemption using this new Camp Marine Module.  An MTRB decision is made for each vessel not for each camp, so more than one MTRB will be required depending on how many boats camps will carry 7-12 passengers.

2 – Schedule a Course by:

a) having an in-house staff member approved by Transport Canada to instruct the course

b) hire an already approved instructor listed on the CCA and OCA website to instruct the course

c) send boat operators to another course already being offered by another camp

Please direct any inquiries to and answers will be provided as quickly as possible.  Also, pertinent information will be added to the webpage devoted to this new course as we’re sure there will be some important information to share during the first year of this new certification process.

Too many Transport Canada officials and politicians to mention were instrumental in seeing this project through, but we offer them a huge thank you.  Kudos also to Course Manual developer Ray Krick and Instructor Manual/Presentation creator Jamie Gordon.

Thank you for your patience through the last few years, but we are very fortunate to be able to offer this type of course across Canada to camps and vessels that qualify to use this certification.

Craig Perlmutter
Government Relations Committee
OCA Vice-President

Measles – What Every Camp Director Needs To Know

Posted on May 4, 2015 by Bev Unger

As the summer approaches, families are thinking about the risk of measles and summer plans. I know this hot topic is also on the minds of camp directors as we read and hear new reports about measles out breaks and a small panic rises in us – “what if we get measles at our camp?!”

With proper knowledge and planning, the risk of infectious or communicable disease outbreaks at camp can be decreased and your ability to handle the situation heightened.

Increase your measles knowledge

Fact sheets from your own region’s public health department are only a click away.

Before the campers arrive:

The camp’s Health Care Custodian should review every health form to screen for those who are NOT immunized or who are immunosuppressed (such as people undergoing chemotherapy).

Immunization dates should be provided for every camper and staff. If they are not, it is recommended that efforts be made to obtain the dates of immunization.

Have a Communicable Disease Camp Policy in place:

Develop a policy that clearly states the procedures your camp will follow if an individual is suspected to have measles (or any other communicable illness).

To ensure the health and safety of everyone:

  • Prepare communication before camp starts and share it with your families. Be clear on your fee adjustment plans: will you reimburse or have a no refund policy?
  • What are you plans for campers / staff who are not immunized?
  • What are you plans for campers / staff who are immunosuppressed?
  • What procedures will be put into place for individuals who are suspected to have a communicable illness?
  • What procedures do you have for isolation?

Know the signs and symptoms:

I am pro vaccination; however, I support and understand individuals’ decisions if they choose not to vaccinate. We worry about our population who are not vaccinated but remember that vaccinations are not 100% effective. There is a small population who, although fully vaccinated, could possibly come down with the illness. With this in mind, we need to be monitoring and assessing everyone who shows any signs of illness.

Make sure you have health staff on hand who are knowledgeable and able to identify the signs and symptoms of measles (or any communicable / infectious disease). Early detection will mean less exposure and a better ability for your camp to handle any issues that may arise.

  • Symptoms begin 7 – 12 days after exposure
  • Fever ≥ 38.3 degrees Celsius (oral)
  • At least one of: cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (red eyes), irritability
  • Small white spots may be on the inside of the mouth and throat, but not always
  • Generalized red blotchy rash usually appears on the face and moves down the body

Prevention and Treatment Plan – what to do if there is a case or measles at your camp:

  • At the first sign of a communicable illness, the individual must be isolated into a single room with the door closed.
  • Only immune staff should be allowed to enter the room.
  • The individual who is ill should wear a surgical mask (If you do not have an airborne infection isolation room, I am sure your camp does not)
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and gowns may be added as required.
  • Make arrangements for the individual to seek an immediate medical assessment. Call ahead if you are going to a medical facility so they can take the proper precautions to avoid further exposure.
  • If it is determined the individual does have measles make arrangements for the person to be sent home for the isolation period (21 days for measles).
  • The measles virus can remain airborne for two hours; no individuals should be placed in the room for at least two hours
  • The room must be cleaned thoroughly

Additional Steps:

Non- immunized or immunosuppressed individuals

  • Contact families of those who are not immunized or immunosuppressed.
  • A frank discussion of the situation should take place and a joint decision made on the next steps.
  • It is recommended these campers be removed from camp for the isolation period.

Follow your camp crisis response plan and notify your provincial association

Report to public health

  • All suspected cases of measles MUST be reported to the public health department in your area.
  • Prior to camp, obtain a list of all the reportable illnesses from your local public health department and know they are there to help you.

Other Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

World Health Organization, Measles 2015: