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Friday
May252018

Hello Camp Henry Families!

If I have not had the chance to meet you yet, my name is Kelly Reynolds and I am the lucky person who gets to be the Director of YMCA Camp Henry (a.k.a. living the dream!). I feel so lucky to be in this position. I absolutely love spending my year planning camp and my summers in Point Pelee National Park with some awesome campers and staff.

 

Overnight camp is unique experience that provides many opportunities to kids outside of the  ‘real world’. Everyone can always spend more time outside and in nature, and more time having face-to-face interactions and developing real friendships. That is what camp is all about. We bring children together in a safe and supportive environment to learn new skills, make mistakes, make friends, build upon existing friendships and have fun outside!

 

I can only imagine how challenging it is to send away a child you love to overnight camp. Although it’s not hard to see the benefits camp can have on children, it’s still tough saying goodbye for the week. We want you to know that we recognize that and are there for you and your camper. We want every camper to have the most awesome camp experience possible, and we want every family at home to feel confident their child is having that awesome experience they hope for.

 

 

 

In the offseason we spend all of our time considering how we can improve things for the upcoming summer – not only for our campers, but for their families at home as well! Our team here at the YMCA thought it would be nice to create this platform to share what we are working on with you, talk about why we do what we do, and provide an opportunity for our Camp Henry families to share their experiences.

 

Looking forward to getting to know you more this summer!

 

Kelly Reynolds

Director, YMCA Camp Henry

YMCA of Western Ontario

Friday
May112018

A Cherished Second-Home By John Riddell

In our family, summer camp for our two children was a right of passage. I met my wife while we were both working for a Y camp, where time and time again we were amazed at the life-changing experience camp provided for children and youth. Based on our countless positive experiences, we wholeheartedly believed in the value of camp and there was little doubt in our minds that we wanted our children to share this experience.

When you stop to think about it, a camp setting truly is a wonder in today’s day and age – an entire community made up of children and young adults, with a unique culture and set of rules, rituals, and traditions that are carefully nurtured and evolved with each new summer. There really is no other experience quite like it, that can bring such positive and lasting benefits to a child in just a few short weeks.

That being said, we were probably just as nervous as every first-time parents, as we stood waving at the dock in Honey Harbour, watching as the boat pulled away to take our daughter Abby to CQE for her very first session. I had worked at CQE for eight years and knew the place and the program inside out, and we had prepared Abby carefully for what the session would hold; nevertheless, we thought about her every day, scanned the camp’s social media posts for any signs of her in photos, and waited (in vain!) for a letter from her. All our worrying was for nothing; at the end of the session we picked up a happy, chatty little girl who told us stories and sang us songs all the way home. (And the letter? Still in her bag; she had started it, “Dear Guys…” but that’s as far as she got. “I was too busy to write!” was her excuse.)

The scene was repeated a few years later when our son Ben went for his first session, and the experience for both of our children has been everything we could have wished for. They have both become part of this caring and special little community, have developed meaningful friendships, and have found a place where they truly feel like they belong - CQE is as comfortable to them as a second home.

And so, our family story continues and we will once again look forward to watching the boat come into the Harbour, and picking up our two tired, dishevelled, and happy children, and cherishing their camp stories all the way home.

Thursday
May102018

Endless Opportunity & First Time Experiences By Grace Yip

We first discovered CQE through our daughter's friends when Zoe was 9, and we cannot say enough how grateful we are. CQE has given Zoe so many opportunities and "first time" experiences. From boating and swimming in the bay, to kayaking and watching the sunset in the still peace of nature with friends. Being a family that doesn’t do much outdoors, and with neither of us parents knowing how to swim, we were shocked and thrilled to learn that Zoe had chosen kayaking as one of her activity choices and that she had really strengthened her swimming skills during her two weeks away. It was amazing.

CQE has truly changed our daughter’s life. Zoe talked about camp for weeks and weeks after she returned home, and camp traditions carried through into Zoe’s day-to-day activities. She taught us a new method of wiping the table after dinner, how to make bracelets (just like the ones at camp!), and is always signing camp songs. And whenever we eat chicken at home, or elsewhere, she remarks, "Oh this chicken is good, but it isn't as good as the CQE roast chicken. That was the BEST roast chicken I have ever eaten in my whole life!"  She even still mentions it now two years later! It’s safe to say, I was impressed.

What impressed us the most, however, was the quality of the counsellors, the organization, and the facilities. The counsellors were so thoughtful and intuitive - they were able to anticipate the needs of all types of campers, outgoing and quiet. CQE was highly recommended to us from trusted parents, but what convinced us most was a session at our local YMCA where they presented a video and speeches from counsellors and staff about what goes on behind the scenes at camp. This answered all of my questions, and reassured me that this was the right camp to send our child. Now, after seeing for myself the difference in Zoe after her camp experience, I can truly see how amazing CQE really is.

This camp has helped our daughter grow into who she is going to be and we are eternally grateful to CQE for this. May you continue this tradition for many years to come!

Tuesday
May012018

Camp experiences... Keeping it in the family By Elly Dowson

 

For me and my twin sister, going to camp was an experience that truly shaped us as adults. We were 13 years old and the youngest of four kids when our Dad died from a heart attack. Our whole family felt isolated and traumatized by his death. Fortunately for my twin sister and I, the following winter we stumbled into a local kids club that offered floor hockey and other games for urban teens. Our friends from the neighbourhood joined us and we spent many enjoyable and sweaty winter evenings slapping a plastic puck around. The club was affiliated with a summer camp and we were offered a free week there. For us, a magical door had opened and a new and interesting chapter began.

Every summer, for the next 4 years, we spent a couple of weeks at camp. Those experiences, bar none, were the most formative experiences of my life. They were an antidote for grief, but more importantly, they built core strength, as well as a life-long and deep appreciation of the outdoors.

So when our son Rowan turned 13, we wanted to give him the same opportunity. After two weeks at CQE, Rowan came back happy and different. CQE had given him a healthy glow, improved water skills, and a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and maturity.  He went back the following year and the same thing happened. There was a difference in maturity and physical growth.

The next year, Rowan went for a month as a ‘Delaware’. With fourteen days on a canoe trip and another two weeks as a camper, Rowan experienced physical challenges, natural beauty, and camaraderie. I truly believe embracing the water, rocks, trees, and hard work, without any electronic devices, can massage the spirit and energize the soul.

After spending all of last August as an LIT, he was motivated to go back as a counsellor. However, before he could even apply, he needed to upgrade his swimming qualifications and become certified in First Aid and CPR.

With resolve and focus, he researched how, and what he needed to do and booked all the weekends needed to achieve the requisite certificates. He figured out TTC maps and schedules and arranged to get there on time and ready for the challenge. After school, and on weekends last fall, he followed through, returning home exhausted after each intensive weekend session, but closer to his goal.

This year, we’re proud that Rowan will again attend CQE, but as a counsellor.

It’s remarkable that life has come full circle and maybe Rowan will help a kid facing tragedy or hardship find confidence, friendship, safety, and connection, like my sister and I all those years ago. We feel very lucky that CQE is there to bring the beauty of the outdoors to children of all ages and backgrounds and we’re looking forward to the next chapter at Camp Queen Elizabeth.

Monday
Apr302018

Memories to last a lifetime By Duncan Rowland

I was a summer camper in my youth, so I was very happy when Charlotte returned from her grade 6 trip to YMCA Camp Pine Crest all excited and stating that she really wanted to go to a YMCA camp the next summer. We settled on CQE, as it is close to our cottage, where our family spends most of the summer. CQE did not disappoint Charlotte, as her first comment to us after stepping off the boat was that she loved it, and the second was that she couldn’t wait to go back next year.

In the four summers since then, Charlotte has embraced CQE to the maximum: a 12-day canoe trip to Temagami, and last summer the month-long Venture Leadership out-trip up the Missinaibi River to James Bay. She took on these challenges enthusiastically, and came back with stories and memories that will last a lifetime and are definitely at the foundation of her character. At the age of seventeen, she has already accomplished things that we as parents can only marvel at.

In her camping experience, Charlotte has learned to be independent, see her own self-worth, learn about life outside the city, and make friends beyond her high school circle. We are very thrilled with the choice of CQE as her camp, and can see that it will continue to benefit her for many years to come.

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