Congratulations to the 2018 CCA Award Winners!

Posted on March 18, 2019 by CCA Communications Committee

The Canadian Camping Association is pleased to announce three recipients of the 2018 CCA Awards: Catherine Ross (Ron Johnstone Lifetime Achievement Award), Neita Avery (Award of Excellence), and Valery Kostin (Special Recognition Award – Honorary CCA Membership).


Ron Johnstone Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient (2018)

Catherine has a long history as a leader in Canadian camping, and she has left a legacy of meaningful work that has impacted campers, staff, and camp professionals across the country in profound ways.

Significantly, Catherine was the first Communications Officer of the CCA, and volunteered in that role for nine years. As Communications Officer, Catherine pioneered the correspondence with camps across the country once the internet, email, websites, and social media became methods of communicating. As a CCA Board member Catherine also spearheaded the successful tree planting program, which has seen over 100,000 trees planted since its inception by hundreds of campers at dozens of camps across Canada.

Catherine is a founding Board member of Kids In Camp charity, and continues to sit on the KIC Board as Campership Chair. Catherine is a renowned author, having written books that highlight the history of several private camps in Ontario, and she also published the popular staff training resource “How to be a Camp Counsellor…the best job in the world!”.

Catherine was a member of the 1994 International Camping Congress Program Committee that welcomed camping professionals from 32 countries to Canada. She is an Honourary Life Member of the Ontario Camps Association, is a past OCA Board member, was a long-time OCA standards committee member and visitor, and volunteered on the OCA Archives Committee. Catherine is a past Chair of the OCA Conference Committee, and she has been, and continues to be, an active committee member. Catherine is also a former President and Board member of the Society of Camp Directors.

As anyone who has sat on a Board or committee with Catherine can attest, she tirelessly volunteers to take minutes of any meeting, any time. Catherine was a camper and long-time staff member at Camp Tanamakoon in Algonquin Park in Ontario.

She and her husband George purchased Camp Mi-A-Kon-Da near Parry Sound, Ontario in 1979, where Catherine was Camp Director for 20 years.


Award of Excellence (2018)

Neita served Rock Lake United Church Camp (RLUCC) in Manitoba for over 20 years as secretary / treasurer, board chair, and board member. There is nobody more dedicated to the success of RLUCC than Neita. She has been the face of the camp for as long as many people can remember.

Neita is willing to do anything it takes to make camp a success. As she soon approaches her 90th birthday, she can still be found walking through the crawlspace to turn on the walk-in cooler or collecting water to send for testing. She mows lawns, bakes cookies, arranges camperships, and recruits counsellors. The list of what she has done and will do for the camp is endless.

Neita is constantly thinking about the camp and what more she can do to promote it. She is never seen without a handful of RLUCC brochures in her purse, and she is always talking to people about the camp. She has arranged for fundraisers, new equipment, grants, and so much more. She has done it all with a smile on her face, and if you try to give her credit where it is definitely due, she brushes it off.

This year, Neita has been pretty firm in her decision to leave the role she has served so faithfully for so many years. There is no better way to conclude her time at RLUCC than to honour her with this award, and it couldn’t go to a sweeter, more dedicated woman.


Special Recognition Award – Honorary CCA Membership (2018)

Since his first appearance on the North American camping scene in 1990 , Valery Kostin has been a friend to Canada. As a camp director of Diamond Camp in the huge Soviet camping complex known as Artek, and as a product of the camping system there himself, Valery brought to North America his communication skills, his enthusiasm and his knowledge to enrich us all about a wider world of camping. The special friendship between the camp communities in Canada and Russia is due, in large part, to his role as permanent, goodwill ambassador.

Since that time, Valery has brought delegations of campers, staff and directors to Canadian camps and conferences for sharing and knowledge. In 1994, as a member of the International Camping Fellowship (and again in 2008) , Valery led the largest delegation from outside North America to the International Camping Congresses in Toronto and Quebec. Later, in Russia, in both 1997 and 2017, Valery was the driving force behind as well as the charming face in front of the International Congresses in St Petersburg and Sochi.

Valery has spoken at several provincial conferences in Canada and brought along additional Russian camping leaders and delegations to do the same. In recent summers, he has also assisted numerous camps to secure excellent international staff into their camps.  For any camping professional travelling to Russia, Valery manages to somehow clear his schedule and provide first class, personal attention and assistance in trip details and goes the extra mile to provide additional enhancements.

“From Russia with Love” is often a byline quoted by Valery. It is more than just a phrase – – –  Valery provides the very best demonstration of the fact that one person can make a difference. He has done so for camping in Canada and his love of peace, friendship and international understanding is evident in everything he does. Canada and Russia share more than a love of winter, a love of camping and a love of children. We also share Valery – – – a Russian with love.