For many children, camp may be the only way to experience the kinds of outdoor activities that were once thought of as a normal part of childhood. Camp is For Kids is a reminder of the importance of summer camp and the outdoors in the lives of children.
posted on 3:07 PM, April 7, 2016
The rapid rate of registration for our programs is testament to the broad community need and appreciation for Sasamat Outdoor Centre's high-quality, outdoor-based programs, but many parents signing children up for camp programs may not be aware that Sasamat Outdoor Centre is a non-profit, charitable organization, supported by funders and donors who share our belief in the positive outcomes of outdoor-based learning experiences.
One such funder is the United Way of the Lower Mainland (UWLM). With a key focus area of "helping kids be all that they can be", the UWLM is a significant contributor to Sasamat's programs for children. Funding plays a major role in directly reducing our costs so that our programs remain affordable for families, and providing support for research initiatives, enabling us to ensure that our programs are relevant and have strong community impact.
While many children attending Sasamat's programs come from financially stable families, 30% of children in the Tri-Cities have been designated as economically vulnerable, with one sector as high as 43%. By supporting community programs such as Sasamat's, and through initiatives like Avenues of Change, the UWLM is helping to build stronger kids and stronger communities, and reduce the cycle of poverty.
To find out more about the impact of UWLM'S community work, go to www.uwlm.ca.
posted on 2:49 PM, March 2, 2016
As the world steadily becomes more digital, camps are having to rethink policies around electronic devices. Parents and children in the digital world have new expectations.
Parents often want to stay connected with their children while they are at camp and parents and children are used to instantly communicating by cell phone. Letting go of that control can be unnerving.
Many camps have policies that prohibit digital devices for campers. The objectives are sound - allowing kids to develop meaningful bonds with other people face-to-face instead of through a screen, building self-confidence in a group situation outside of the home, getting in touch with nature and the outdoors...; there are a lot of reasons for digital detox at camp. There are also reasons why digital detox is difficult.
A camp with a "no cell phone" policy might have to consider that cell phones are used almost exclusively in place of cameras by many people. Taking pictures at camp never used to be an issue. Kids took pictures on film, had them printed when they got home, stored them in an album and looked at them from time to time to remind themselves of good times at camp. Today, those pictures can be uploaded instantly to a wide variety of media sites which, in many cases, are open to public access. Campers uploading images of life at camp in real time can't be all bad, but there are reasons it can't be all good either.
Privacy is often a real concern for parents but is not necessarily seen with the same degree of concern by young people who have grown up in a digital world and who are used to sharing everything through social media. It can be difficult to explain to young people the risks of sharing your life publicly through social media, but they are there. Everyone has heard unhappy stories of social manipulation of young people through the internet.
When pictures are taken with GPS enabled devices like cell phones and many digital cameras, metadata is recorded that includes your geographic position in latitude and longitude. Location based media like Facebook or Twitter may have features to remove metadata when sharing and uploading photographs, but it might only work on their web interface, not when using a cell phone.
Effectively, anyone who wants to know your whereabouts might be able to download your image, or an image you've taken of your house or your car or your child, run it through an application to extract the metadata, use the information to locate where the photo was taken and, if it's uploaded in real time, where you are. Sites like Foursquare use this technology, and other sites like "Please Rob Me", and "We Know What You Are Doing" were examples of how this information could be used nefariously. To see how simply metadata can be extracted go to:
Another consideration to the use of cell phones in camp is cyber bullying. The "schoolyard bully" now has an instant international platform, and there is little or no recourse for the victim. In a "no cell phone" camp environment, leaders are more easily able to monitor and control a bullying situation than they might be if damaging images or words were being uploaded to the web without their knowledge.
There is no single solution to the use of digital devices in camp, but finding a balance that works for parents, children and camps is important and will become more so as digital devices hold greater influence in our lives.
posted on 4:49 PM, July 21, 2015
Sasamat Outdoor Centre plays a significant role in program and policy development, public education, and program delivery in the areas of outdoor play and organized camping. The evidence is well documented. Outdoor play is critical to children's health and well-being. Organized summer camping programs and outdoor education programs for school-age children, play a significant role in improved learning and in creating controlled-risk play opportunities that promote healthy child development.
There needs to be greater understanding by parents, educators and governments, of the value of outdoor play in order to ensure that programs that best exemplify outdoor learning are in place and easily accessible across the socio-economic spectrum.
A recent position statement on active outdoor play, is the first of its sort in Canada. It acknowledges a deficiency in opportunities for children to spend time outdoors that has left children vulnerable to health and personal development problems. The answer to these problems seems simple - get kids outside.