Camp Wahanowin

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BRUCE’S BLOG: BIG ON THE LITTLE THINGS

We are entering the final two weeks of the 2015 season and although there is still so much going on, I’ve begun to reflect on some significant but subtle changes and improvements this summer. We are a high energy, highly programmed camp with major events happening two or three times a week all summer long. However, there have been a few lower profile things that have really made a difference.

Patti is amazing for a lot of reasons but one in particular is that she gets kids. She has great intuition for the needs of children and is proactive in meeting them. One brilliant but simple idea is the addition of the camp library. We brought several hundred books to camp this year and set up a library in the dining hall. One announcement was made and the concept took off. Every meal there are campers in the library checking out the books and taking a favourite back to their cabin. After completing a book, the camper then exchanges it for another to read. We have more campers in more units reading more books than ever before.

This summer we created a camp council for campers and staff to have the opportunity to provide feedback, express concerns and make suggestions to make the camp better. From this feedback, we made some delicious and nutritious menu changes, brought back salad bar, enhanced grove snack, modified some staff excursions, allowed LTP campers to participate in some staff snack opportunities and made some minor changes to routines like flagpole and meal times. All of these changes stemmed from feedback from both campers and staff and were appreciated tremendously because they had a say in the outcome. These were not only positive changes for Wahanowin but boosted camp morale for everyone.

We are very lucky to have the finest doctor team in camping. They are not only excellent medical people but they are fantastic people people. The attention to detail, the bedside manner and willingness to always go above and beyond sets our team apart from any camp I know. Once again I have to add Patti to this team as she is highly involved with daily Health Centre routines and protocols. We have had several very healthy summers at Wahanowin including this one with no significant outbreaks of gastro, lice or impetigo. You never know how a summer will play out health wise but with the proper protocols and precautions, we have been able to mitigate any serious typical camp ailments. Our nursing team is also top notch and have been tremendous with day to day minor injuries or illnesses and ensuring all campers on regular meds get them at the proper times each day.

We are the only camp I know of that hires a kitchen staff member for the sole purpose of providing special diets for campers that require one. This little detail is the difference between a successful and healthy camp experience and one in which several campers would probably not be able to attend camp. The attention to detail in this department is huge but our kitchen staff and in particular, our special diet guru, Anthony has been right on target preparing and providing appropriate and yummy food to all our special diet campers. I can’t discuss this important topic without mentioning Tan who is the brains behind the entire operation, ordering food, training the staff, checking every label and doing massive research from September to June ensuring we have the best possible menu for the entire camp and for each individual special diet camper.

In the category of “why didn’t we do this years ago” is night duty (O.D.) in the cabins. Once again, a minor change has made a huge difference. The relationships between campers and staff are better, the cabin dynamic is way better (significantly fewer cabin issues), the nights at camp are calmer, campers are getting more and better rest and we are all healthier for it. Other spinoff benefits include more energy during the day, better participation at activity areas, less homesickness and cabin bonding/friendships has gone to a much deeper and meaningful level. This “better late than never” idea has been a game changer.

The C.I.T. program has reached a new level of excellence. The addition of Torah High as part of our C.I.T. program has transformed the training and preparation of our future staff into a first class, hands on leadership experience that is second to none. Our C.I.T.s are receiving an education in life skills and personal development that will not only benefit them tremendously as future staff, but will be a foundation for moral and ethical behaviour and decisions throughout their lives. The Torah High team of Sam and Sara has been an amazing addition to our head staff and have impacted Wahanowin beyond the C.I.T. program. As an added bonus, the C.I.T.s are getting a grade 11 credit and have the opportunity to turn this course into a grade 12 credit with a little extra work throughout the coming school year.

There have definitely been some very high profile changes to camp this year including the new theatre, new cabins, beach volleyball, waterfront redevelopment, parasailing and Pink Day just to name a few, but the little tweaks and changes have made a significant difference and contributed to making this summer sensational. We love the hype and we love the major improvement projects, but we also know it’s the attention to detail that will set us apart when it comes to looking after your kids. That’s why we’re big on the little things.

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Individuality, Inclusiveness and Pink

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Camp Wahanowin has always celebrated the individuality of each camper that attends camp. We take pride in creating an atmosphere of inclusivity in each cabin, unit and the entire camp. Everyone belongs at Wahanowin and has the opportunity to be the best of who they are. That’s why we always want to allow every camper to “Lead and Shine”. Campers Lead by being who they are; displaying their unique talents that make them special. They Shine by doing so in front of their peers and friends in a supportive and encouraging environment.

 

This safety net of support gives campers the courage to maximize their potential, expand their comfort zone and achieve new heights. This truly is the definition of a successful camp experience. At Wahanowin, we breed this culture where campers and staff feel safe to be themselves and know they will be accepted and belong.

 

This message which has always been a fundamental aspect of our camping philosophy will be officially recognized and celebrated with a brand new tradition this summer. Individuality, inclusiveness, tolerance, acceptance and belonging will be the theme of Pink Day. This day will see the entire camp wearing pink in solidarity of the important idea of working together to make Wahanowin even better and then taking this message back home to schools and throughout the community. Ve’ahavta, the Jewish humanitarian organization, is partnering with Wahanowin for this full day program by providing a tikkun olum (repairing the world) Dugmah grant.  This grant has enabled us to purchase pink t-shirts for all campers and provide a guest storyteller for the event.

 

Special activities throughout the day will focus on individuality, inclusiveness and allow every camper the chance to Lead and Shine! Every activity area will run “Pink” themed programs; reminding campers of the importance to cooperate, support each other and recognize the unique contributions of everyone in their cabin and unit. The culmination of the day will occur that evening in the theatre with a special “Pink” EP with a surprise guest speaker.

 

We are very excited to offer another Wahanowin 1st; celebrating the true essence of what camp is all about, the values we instil and a day full of meaningful fun. As you prepare for camp and all the fabulous and exciting adventures to come, remember to take a moment to consider what you really want to accomplish this summer and Think Pink!

See you at the buses!

Bruce

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Bruce’s Blog: 2015 Update #2

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Spring has officially arrived and there are less than 100 days until camp. It is always an exciting time of year when the snow melts, the weather warms up and camp is finally on the immediate horizon. We are busily preparing for the summer and very confident it will be our finest. Work up north on site continues at a feverish pace as the landscape has changed more dramatically this offseason than ever before.

There will be a significantly different and brand new look to Wahanowin: from when you drive in to camp on our new upgraded and widened roads to our beautiful new cabins to the amazing and complete theatre prominently displayed on entry to camp. And of course, let’s not forget the newly landscaped expanded beach beside ski. It’s all new, cutting edge, fresh and ahead of the camping curve.

And there is much more in store this summer, so here are a few highlights from our new programs, protocols and cool happenings at Wahanowin in 2015.

Safety, Security and Supervision are front and centre at Wahanowin. We are very proud of our safety and supervision record throughout our history but we are taking it up a notch to a new level this summer.  Policy adjustments for 2015 with regards to safety, security and supervision include:

• Night Duty (O.D.) will be a rotation with each cabin’s staff and the staff will remain inside the cabin all night.
• Camper curfew will be strictly enforced and thoroughly monitored to prevent late night wandering.
• Our no cell phone, no screens policy will be strictly enforced and will include CITS.
• All LTP and CIT money brought to camp must be kept in the office. Campers in Alumni and younger will not be allowed to have money at camp.

Details of all 2015 policy adjustments will be sent to all families closer to camp but please feel free to contact us at the office if you have any questions. Be assured that every change made is with the safety and supervision of every camper in mind.

The Dining Hall will have a new look this summer on several fronts. We are doing a minor renovation plus beginning the process of moving theatre plaques to the new theatre. Very exciting!

The Kitchen will be very busy as well. We are working on a new menu with a few new items, focussing on healthier options, a nice variety at the salad bar and not as much fried food. There is a tremendous tradition of excellence in food at Wahanowin dating back to Bubby Nash and then Yetta, and that commitment to providing the best nutritious and delicious food continues with Tan. We know every camper and staff will be well fed and enjoy the food this summer.

We appreciate feedback in all aspects of camp, we listen and make appropriate changes.

Finally, Master Chef is coming to Wahanowin. Lead by our Red Seal accredited super Chef, Roch Beaudrey, campers will have the opportunity to learn how to prepare gourmet food and compete against one another in teams to win the chance to prepare a meal for the entire camp. The Dining Hall will be cooking on all cylinders this summer!

Big news in the CIT program. Every CIT will have the opportunity to receive a Grade 11 high school credit just by participating in our newly upgraded, leadership CIT program. Camp Wahanowin is partnering with Torah High to bring this unique and exciting new opportunity to Wahanowin CITs. Like so many things, Wahanowin is the ONLY private cutting edge camp to offer such a program. Early acceptance to university, here we come!

As usual, there is tremendous anticipation about the theme of the summer as it sets the tone and flavour of theme days, special programs, staff training and gives everyone a focus of what we are trying to achieve. This year’s theme challenges every camper and staff to embody the goals and philosophy of Wahanowin, to lead and shine, maximize your potential and be a true champion with your behaviour, attitude and example you set for others. In this spirit, this year’s camp theme is “Be a Camp Champ!”

More exciting news on the way as camp approaches, so keep checking into Wahanowin.com for all the latest and greatest happenings at Wahanowin. Spring has sprung and summer is waiting close behind! And lastly, on behalf of Patti, Hannah, Rachel and Sam, I want to wish your family a very happy, healthy and meaningful Passover.

See you in 87 days,
Bruce

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Bruce’s Blog: 2015 Update #1

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After a long and very cold winter, spring is finally on the horizon as the temperature starts to warm up and the snow begins to melt. I, myself am finally coming out of blog hibernation and will start communicating on a more regular basis as the summer approaches. It’s been quite a productive winter with a lot going on in the Wahanowin office and at camp. Lots of exciting things to report with many great new additions to our facility and program as we count down the time to opening day. I know the Wahanowin social media machine has been in high gear with daily posts, pictures, exciting news and most recently, the big reveal of our 2015 Head Staff line-up. So let me bring you up to date on some of the other things we’ve been working on.

The spectacular new cabins in the grove are coming along very nicely. Six have been framed with the roofs on and interior walls built. We are now concentrating on some of the finishings and details that will make these state of the art cabins the finest in the camping world. We are very excited for the first group of campers to live in our beautiful new summer dwellings.

The expanded beach where the old Phyllis Weisfeld Theatre used to be has been cleared and prepared for landscaping, new sand, beach volleyball posts, etc….. We are just waiting for the snow to melt so we can get going on our waterfront beautification project. That includes the new sunset firepit, boardwalks, brand new sand and larger beach area of our existing waterfront. It’s going to look, feel and be amazing!

We’ve been talking about the brand new Phyllis Weisfeld Theatre for two years now so I am particularly thrilled that it is complete and ready to go to open the 2015 season. This new facility is so far ahead of any camp’s theatre and we are very lucky to be able to enjoy this wonderful venue. The famous Wahanowin theatre program will flourish but so will many other new programs as the theatre will be incorporated into evening programs, camp wide events, meetings, movie nights, theme days, intercamp competitions and even a brand new fitness program making use of the new technology wired into the theatre. There is no doubt that this new facility will be utilized daily and set the standard of excellence in the camping world.

There’s been a great response and lots of interest in Parasailing as Wahanowin continues its creative and cutting edge programming. This one-of-a-kind activity will be an exhilarating addition to our adventure programming line-up and will be the ride of a lifetime for all participants. Things are definitely looking up at this activity. Another new addition to the 2015 summer season is Unlimited Potential (UP) Dance Camp headed up by the talented and dynamic Justin Barkie. This one week intensive dance experience taking place during the August session will be an awesome opportunity for any level dancer to improve their skills, learn new techniques and have the chance to perform a brand new routine for their parents at camp. All the details to get involved in these programs are located on the best website in camping, wahanowin.com.

Update number two will focus on new program ideas, exciting CIT news, food and menu changes, new levels of safety, security and supervision as well as the sensational summer theme for 2015. We are all excited to get going and the way time has flown by since last summer, the buses will be rolling before we know it. Stay tuned for more exciting information later this month and start getting excited for the best summer in Wahanowin history in 2015!!!

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Bruce’s Blog: What a Celebration!

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It’s been one month since the end of the Summer of Celebration and as we savour the wonderful memories we are already gearing up for the next great adventure in the Wahanowin world, the summer of 2015! I remember when camp would end and we would return to our city lives and put the summer behind us until the snow would start to melt and the warm weather of Spring would arrive. Now, the camp cycle continues throughout the year with camp events, reunions, announcements, cabin chills, social media and getting together as often as possible. And speaking of getting together, we just celebrated a fabulous Fall Festival at camp and had an amazing day despite some rain and chilly conditions. The spirit and magic that is Wahanowin was very much alive as many campers, staff and visiting families enjoyed a wide variety of activities, a carnival, friends and family lunch and the opportunity to reminisce all the incredible fun of the 60th Anniversary Season.

This summer was very special on so many levels. The milestone year in and of itself, was quite an accomplishment, but the energy, spirit, excitement, programming, enthusiasm and participation of all campers and staff was unparalleled. It truly was a celebration all summer long. We were also proud of all the special events we hosted including our Wahano-venture friends from Green Acres, the Wahano-One campers, all our guests for Family Weekend and of course the spectacular 60th Anniversary Alumni Day Reunion. Every one of these major events were marvellous examples of hard work, organization, attention to detail and extremely successful. The feedback all summer after every event was remarkable. Continue reading »

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Bruce’s Blog: Bruce

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We are now nearing the end of the 60th Anniversary season and I’ve been reflecting on many things that have occurred this summer and over the history of this fascinating and fabulous place. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again (like now), “It’s hard to know where to begin, so much goes on at Wahanowin”. And as my mind was wondering both past and present, I came to an interesting realization. Since I became director of Camp Wahanowin more than 20 years ago, there has not been one camper or staff member named Bruce except me. I’ve always said that Bruce is the most uncommon of common names but it was quite astounding to make that realization.

I decided to google famous Bruce’s and a list of 36 names came up (all Bruce’s coincidently). The usual suspects included Bruce Lee, Bruce Willis, Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Jenner and Bruce Dern. The interesting thing is that I didn’t even recognize 28 names of the 36 on the list. And, no, I was not on the top 36. I’ve always felt I was a little unique in some ways and I guess my name is quite appropriate. One interesting side note is that Patti’s sister divorced her first husband and fairly recently married her second. His name is Bruce. So, two sisters are married to two Bruce’s. What are the odds of that considering there hasn’t been a Bruce at camp in over two decades. Continue reading »

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Bruce’s Blog: “I Just want my kid to be……….!”

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If I were to ask a parent to finish the sentence “I just want my kid to be ___________”, as it relates to their experience at camp, the most likely answer would be “happy”. I mention this because I’ve heard this sentence with the above ending hundreds of times over my Camp Director career. The sentence typically comes up as part of a conversation about concerns for a new camper attending camp or in response to an issue or conflict that occurs during the summer. Another sentence I hear that is connected to the above one is “I’m not paying $x-thousands for my kid not to be happy!” The interesting thing is that if the first statement had a multiple choice answer, the blank might be filled in differently. So, when it comes to your child’s experience at camp, please choose only one answer to fill in the blank.  Continue reading »

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