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 2:45 PM, December 14, 2017
British Columbia recently lost two of its long-time camp resources for 2018 - Easter Seals Camps Shawnigan on Vancouver Island (1976) and Squamish on the Sunshine Coast (1972), both of which served a population of special needs children during the summer. Having been to each of these camps in the role of an accreditor for the BC Camps Association, I'm aware of the hard work and dedication that has gone into making them successful for more than 40 years. As a director of a not-for-profit camp myself, I'm also well aware of the challenges faced by the Easter Seals organization and other camps - rising prices, aging infrastructure, necessary large capital expenditures, reduced government support, declining philanthropy, technology, and changing demographics.
As a not-for-profit camp, one of our key objectives, and biggest challenges, is keeping program fees affordable for everyone, while also ensuring that we have the resources to maintain and upgrade our facilities so that we can continue to provide a great experience for kids. Affordability is subject to the whims of the market, the availability of funding, the reality of rising costs and the resources of parents. It's a delicate balance that I'm sure you can appreciate.
The primary role of camps is to enrich the lives of children, and every camp takes that role seriously. Camp is uniquely designed to provide every child with new experiences, new skills, new confidence and new friendships. When a camp closes, those benefits are lost for the child and for the community at large. It's a big loss.
If there is a camp you love, support it in whatever way you can.
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.