August 16, 2023
Dear Wahanowin Families,
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.
The sun has set on another outstanding summer at Wahanowin. We are sad but grateful. Seeing how emotional campers and staff are on the last day reminds us how important Wahanowin is in the lives of so many people. We will miss the Dining Hall vibrating with cheers, the laughter shared between friends, the smell of the summer rain, the messy faces after tuck, the elation after a Colour War victory and the campers at peace watching a Wahanowin sunset. We will miss it all.
The summer of 2023 was special for us. As first-time owners, we embraced the 67-year legacy of the Nashman family while beginning to forge our own path forward. We could not have done it without our incredible Head Staff team who have worked tirelessly all summer to provide a safe, nurturing, and welcoming summer home for all our campers. We are also grateful to our entire staff team who continuously went above and beyond throughout the summer.
Our Wahanowin families have been incredibly supportive, encouraging and a great source of feedback throughout the summer. Thank you!
Lastly, we are grateful for every Wahanowin camper. Whether you were here for a day, a week, the entire summer or something in between, you are part of the Wahanowin family. Always and forever.
We hope that our blog, photos, and social media helped to give our families a flavour of Wahanowin 2023. But there is no replacing being here to experience everything firsthand.
We had countless programs and events – some traditions have been around forever, and some are brand new. That is camp. There is instant recognition for our campers when you mention Olympiad, Friday night services, Carnival, Colour War, Survivor, Unit Plays, Airbands, Beach Day, Kudos, Tour de Waha, Talent Show and Dance Intercamp. The list goes on and on.
Our new tennis and pickle ball complex along with our new hockey court were massively popular activity areas. You could find campers and staff there at every waking hour of the day.
The summer of 2023 included the wildly successful post-COVID return of intercamp and canoe trips.
The big stuff is awesome but it’s the small things that warm our hearts. Seeing the real time growth in a child is the best part of our job. It happens every day, in every way. The easiest example of that is when we see a reluctant camper climbing the trapeze for the first time. It happened again this summer with Danielle from the Eagle unit. She was hesitant and a little bit fearful. With the encouragement of her cabin mates and staff, Danielle climbed the ladder to the platform. She paused because it’s scary to take the jump. After a few seconds, she jumped and soared through the air with a massive smile on her face. Then she did it again. Camp is amazing!
As we begin to reflect on the summer of 2023, we are already starting to turn the page to 2024. Camp never really ends, and we are always moving forward.
There are so many things already in the works for Summer 2024 including the next steps in our long-term re-investment plan. We can’t wait to share our plans with you!
Our 2024 rates and dates will be published online later this week and registration for the summer of 2024 opens on August 28th.
We often hear campers say that a day at camp is like a week in the city. Getting to live and grow with friends, being active all day with new adventures constantly waiting around the corner is a perfect way to spend a summer. That was true when Wahanowin first opened in 1955 and it’s true today.
We are now the caretakers of a summer home that means so much to so many people. It’s a responsibility that we cherish and embrace. We love Wahanowin and we are grateful for the opportunity to lead this camp into the next generation. We are grateful for the trust our families put in us and our team to provide a “summer that lasts a lifetime.”
Until next year!
Elijah and Tia
August 14, 2023
The beginning of the end of Summer 2023 is here, but there is still so much to do!
Friday night was the traditional last service of the summer when we honoured everyone who has reached their 5, 10 or 15-year milestones at camp. The recipients spoke beautifully about the impact Wahanowin has had in their lives.
On Saturday night, the staff entertained the camp with their outstanding production of the musical ‘Beetlejuice‘. It was, as we say, A Wahanowin First for ‘Beetlejuice’ to be performed in the Phyllis Weisfeld theatre. The show was the perfect way to end a wildly successful theatre season.
We are proud to host 14 Bar and Bat Mitzvah-aged children of severely disabled Israeli veterans for a three-week session during the summer. Our team is dedicated to providing these campers the summer of their lives through Beit Halochem Canada, Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel’s Kids of Courage program.
Kids of Courage provides our young visitors a break from the daily challenges of being a child of an injured parent. During their time with us, they share cabins and camp adventures with our Canadian campers. The children discover their lives’ similarities outweigh the differences. We encourage you to learn more about the organization behind this remarkable initiative at https://beithalochem.ca/.
Last night the staff gathered for our annual Head Staff awards where we celebrated the valuable contributions our staff made on the camp and the lives of our campers all summer. We are grateful for the dedication, hard work and creativity of all our staff.
During lunch on Saturday, the Dining Hall was transformed into a bike track for our annual Tour De Dining Hall. Campers and staff participated in bike and tricycle races throughout the Dining Hall, while the camp enjoyed their pizza lunch. It was a blast!
The countdown to the end of summer has begun, but tonight we celebrate the summer with our annual Wahano-Ball. The Dining Hall is going to be decked out in Black and White, where campers will enjoy a Steak dinner cooked by Chef Adam, followed by our end of summer social.
We can’t believe it, but the buses arrive in Toronto Wednesday at around 10:30am. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any departure questions.
August 10, 2023
We have been going non-stop over the past few days.
Monday night was the finale of Survivor: Pearl Island. The camp watched the last tribal council. There was great excitement and nervous energy as the finalists made their pitches to the jury. In the end, Ella from the Alumni Unit was named the Survivor champion for 2023. We are proud of all the campers who participated in this season of Survivor.
For over 40 years, Alumni/LTP colour war has been the highlight of the summer for our oldest campers. It’s a grueling, exhilarating, and challenging 3 days of competition and fun led by camper captains. This year’s colour war theme was all about the Magic! In an incredibly close finish, the Blue team was ultimately crowned colour war champion.
Our BB, Bear, Eagle and Senior Units enjoyed their final Evening Programs Tuesday night before many of them went home yesterday. Campers had a Unit campfire and an opportunity to reflect on the summer they had at Wahanowin. Camp is high energy most of the time, but it is SO important to take a pause and have some time to reflect as a cabin.
We are lucky to have campers from the Reena Foundation join us for a few days. For those not familiar with Reena, they are an organization that promotes dignity, individuality, independence, personal growth and community inclusion for people with diverse abilities. Our CITS volunteer to work with the campers from Reena. It’s inspiring to see how much joy our CITs and the campers from Reena both get from the experience.
We celebrated yesterday’s perfect weather in style with our annual Beach Day in the afternoon. The camp gathered at the waterfront, listened to great tunes, kayaked, sailed, and some just floated in the sun! Chef Adam had the BBQs smoking, with campers enjoying burgers that they washed down with tropical smoothies.
It’s impossible to believe that we have less than one week left in Wahanowin 2023. We are going to savour every moment of our last few days.
August 5, 2023
We wish we could stop time! The summer of 2023 is moving at a lightning-fast pace so it’s nice to take these moments to reflect on the past few days.
Intercamp is back! Yesterday, we sent teams to Camp Manitou to compete in hockey, basketball, volleyball, tennis and swimming. Our teams played hard and had a successful day. We were especially proud when the directors of Manitou told us how respectful and gracious our campers were during their visit.
These kind words were a perfect lead into the Senior Service last night. Their theme was Community. The Seniors reminded us how important it is to care of each other, especially those who may be feeling down or in need of a boost. The Friends theme song got the whole camp singing and clapping. It was a beautiful Friday evening.
This week’s Song of the Week was beautifully performed by Paige Kruger and theatre director, Mary Doyle. They treated us to a heartfelt version of For Good from Wicked. A song like that, performed so emotionally raw, hits you hard at camp. We never take for granted how enduring and important Wahanowin friendships are for our campers and staff.
We have a meaningful tradition at the end of each service. Unit Heads honour a camper in their unit who have distinguished themselves over the previous few days for being a team player, cooperative, respectful and kind, with the honour of being that unit’s camper of the week. The tradition began and continues as we want to publicly celebrate our campers’ successes…both big and small.
Survivor: Pearl Island continues. The game is down to the final three: Jack from the CIT unit, Myla from the LTP Unit and Ella from the Alumni unit. The program concludes with a final tribal council on Monday night before the whole camp. Be sure to watch for the video on our social media channels!
Today is our annual Wahano-One day where our future campers come up for the day to experience a small sampling of life at Wahanowin. They are having an action-packed day led by our trippers and CITs. Don’t forget to check out the great photos in our gallery which will be posted today!
So much goes on at Wahanowin!!
August 3, 2023
Here comes the sun!!! After some inconsistent weather, we finally had a long stretch of warmth.
Our Wahano-Week campers just left after having an incredible taste of camp life. We can’t wait to see them next year
We are in the middle of our 3-day Survivor program. Like the TV show, campers from the Alumni, LTP and CIT units compete for the coveted title of the Sole Wahanowin Survivor. The competitors participate in various challenges until there is one surviving player left at the end of the game. The players eat and sleep in a private area of camp where they focus exclusively on the competition. The program is filmed for the whole camp to enjoy.
The other night, the entire camp gathered for evening program to watch a Survivor challenge and a live tribal council.
The Senior, Grad, PG Masterchef canoe trip left today for Algonquin Park. Campers, staff and canoe trippers will paddle the beautiful waters of Canoe Lake and spend 3 days experiencing what it’s like to live and eat in the wilderness, in style! The Masterchef focus is on the food, so campers are bound to come home happy and with full tummies!
We have a number of sports teams competing at Manitou this Friday and tryouts for all the teams are ongoing. Let’s go Waha!!! We’re so happy that Intercamp is back!
Our BB/Bears who arrived for second session have managed to get past the initial stages of homesickness, thanks to their incredible staff. We always talk to our counsellors about sticking to their campers like “super-glue” in the first week of camp to ease the transition to overnight camp. It’s so rewarding to see the efforts of our staff’s hard work!
The 2-day Grad/PG epic Colour War just wrapped up with the Green Team emerging as this year’s champion. The campers were split into Team Mike vs Team Sully in a Monsters Inc. themed competition.
Rehearsals for the Alumni/LTP production of Matilda are underway and we are pumped to see them perform classic songs like ‘When I Grow Up’ on Saturday night.
With August upon us, the excitement meter at Wahanowin is about to get turned up to 11. Don’t forget to check out the Survivor video at the end of this year’s program.
Until next time!
July 29, 2023
Second month is off to a great start!
Today at lunch, the first month campers taught our new campers the dance for the Song of the Summer, George Ezra’s ‘Green Green Grass’.
Last night’s service, Celebrating Differences, was led by the PG unit. The presenting campers spoke to how Wahanowin embraces each person’s unique qualities and brings their own experiences to their life at camp. They also referenced how special it is that the camp welcomes people from all over the world, including campers and staff from the United States, Mexico, Australia, Israel, England, Ireland and New Zealand.
The service transitioned into the Song of the Week with LTP camper, Abe, bringing down the house with an epic version of the Sinatra classic, My Way.
We are gathering again tonight in the Phyllis Weisfeld theatre for the camp wide talent show. Campers from every unit will be performing songs, skits, and special talents for all of us to enjoy. We can’t wait!
We’re excited to share with you an article about Wahanowin that’s featured in DINE and Destinations Magazine on page 38 & 39. We hope you enjoy it! Check it out HERE.
We have lots of big events coming up this week and we’re excited to tell you all about them in our next blog post!
July 26, 2023
Dear Wahanowin Families,
Changeover is a day filled with so many emotions. It’s sad to say goodbye to our first month campers, especially after having such an incredible month at Wahanowin. But we are also grateful for the new campers who arrived today. It’s a new beginning for them and a chance for everyone at camp to recharge as we enter another thrilling month on Lake Couchiching.
Second session camper arrival was seamless. Our newest campers have easily integrated into the Wahanowin community, and we look forward to sharing the magic of camp with them for the next few weeks.
While we are excited to look forward, we do want to look back at some of the cool stuff that happened at camp over the past few days.
The final show of first month was the Grad/PG production of Camp Rock. Surprisingly, this was the first time Camp Rock was produced at Wahanowin and it was well worth the wait. The show was a raucous celebration of fun and friendship performed by a talented cast. Standing Os all around!!
We honoured the Grad and PGs with an extra-long sleep in and brunch on Monday!! This week’s brunch highlight was the Belgian waffle bar!!!!
On Tuesday night, the camp gathered in the theatre for one of the most popular traditions and competitions at Wahanowin: Camp Wide Air Bands. Every unit, dressed in their unit colours, performs a well-rehearsed Air Band. The performances were out of this world. Each unit blew us away. This year’s Air Bands had a unique Cake Boss/Waha Cafe twist: every unit decorated a cake that was judged by our very own Captain Dave. Units had an opportunity to earn additional points based on the quality of their decorations. In the end, the mighty LTPs emerged as the Air Band/Cake Boss Champs.
The night was capped off by the tennis staff handing out Golden Racquets to those first month campers who spent a significant amount of time at tennis this summer perfecting their skills.
First month campers went home with their cabin photos along with certificates that were awarded at various activity areas throughout the summer.
So here we are at a new beginning. We can’t wait! If campers thought first month was action packed, just wait for what we have planned.
For our second session parents, we would like to take a moment to let you know our theme of the summer at Wahanowin: “No Day But Today.” Camp has an immeasurable and long-lasting impact on the lives of everyone at Wahanowin. It’s easy to forget that the summer is so short. That’s why it’s so critical to savour every moment. Camp is the perfect place to be constantly reminded of how lucky we are to spend our summers on Lake Couchiching.
The boundless enthusiasm of changeover has come to a close. We can’t wait for the sun to rise and for our campers to get to their activities together tomorrow.
Remember to check out our BLOG every few days to stay up to date on what’s happening at Wahanowin. And don’t forget our pics are uploaded Wednesdays and Saturdays and our social media feeds are updated regularly.
Let’s keep this party going!
Elijah & Tia
July 22, 2023
Let the sun shine in! What a perfect day to welcome families back to camp after 3 summers with no Visitors’ Day.
We hope you had a great catch up with your child(ren) and got a chance to hear about all the cool things happening at Wahanowin this summer.
The heartwarming feedback we received today was overwhelming. Thank you!!! Our staff work tirelessly to provide a memorable camp experience for our campers so hearing countless stories about kids who are having the summer of a lifetime just feels good.
We understand that some campers struggle with post the Visitors’ Day adjustment. To help with that transition, we jump into special programming the moment our families exit camp.
Some of you may have seen the horses that joined us as the day was ending. Campers enjoyed guided pony rides before dinner.
After dinner was our Wahanoween program. The Main Camp campers (BBs/Bears, Eagles and Seniors) dress up in costumes and go ‘trick or treating’ throughout the Grove.
The night culminates in our annual Masquerade Ball!
Last night, it was the Alumni unit’s turn to lead our Friday night service. The theme this week was Resilience, which was an ideal topic to explore, especially for kids who have dealt with the challenges of growing up during the pandemic.
As a special treat at the end of the service, long time Wahanowin veterans, Troy Lebane and Osher Mader joined staff members Jenna Weir and Jesse Garber to sing the Song of the Week, California King Bed. Those four first performed California King Bed as the Song of the Week 10 years ago, almost to the day. It was a magical Wahanowin moment.
We finished off Friday night with our annual milestone ceremony to honour campers who have been part of the Wahanowin family for 5 years with a slide show and gift presentation.
As we now begin to think about the end of first month, our program schedule gets even better! First month ends with one of the most popular programs of the summer – Camp Wide Unit Airbands. Rehearsals are well underway for the big night.
Thank you again to those who spent your day with us!!
July 19, 2023
It’s hard to believe that we’ve hit the halfway point of the summer.
One of the big events of last weekend was our annual camp wide Olympiad where team Waha faced off against team Nowin. Campers are assigned to one of those teams their first summer at camp and remain on that team for their Wahanowin career. Siblings are assigned to the same team. It’s always one of the best days of the summer as camper and staff and enthusiasm is off the charts. The day was action packed and the competition was fierce. In the end, Team Nowin edged out a victory for the coveted Olympiad trophy.
The other big event of the weekend was the BB/Bear/Eagle show, Beaglemania. Our youngest campers presented the music of the Beatles in a fresh and entertaining production that received a well-deserved standing ovation.
We honoured Beaglemania and Olympiad with our second Sleep-In & Brunch of the summer. Sunday’s brunch even included a smoothie bar!!!!
There was a special surprise for the camp as we were leaving the Dining Hall after lunch on Monday: an Ice Cream Truck!! All campers and staff enjoyed frozen treats from an ice cream truck that stopped by Wahanowin for the afternoon.
To help our community take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of the Wahanowin sunsets, our A&C team ran a sunset painting program for campers and staff that took place on Bunny Beach. Participants painted their own interpretation of our sunset in real time.
We hosted Dance Intercamp yesterday afternoon, the first one since 2019. Eight rival camps participated in dance competitions in the under 12 and under 16 categories. Both our teams performed at an elite level with spectacular choreography. We are proud of all our campers who participated!
Lastly, the MasterChef Canoe Trip left this morning for a food focused adventure in Algonquin Park with some PGs, Alumnis and LTPs.
Can’t wait to see many of you for Visitors’ Day in 3 days!
July 15, 2023
We are having a blast at camp!
Last night, the Grad Unit hosted the Friday night service. The theme of the service was Growth. In his post service speech, Elijah reflected on the camp life cycle by identifying members of our dynamic Grad staff who sat in their campers’ shoes just a few years ago.
Campers are enjoying the Under the Sea theme day at swim today where they will search for toy creatures placed by swim staff and compete in various mermaid themed games.
The Seniors returned from their canoe trip yesterday. They enjoyed two days of fun in Algonquin Park. The highlight for many was getting to sleep in followed by Tripper Breakfast which included eggs, potatoes and veggies. Despite the rain, the Seniors persevered.
On Thursday night, we held a team ceremony for new campers who were formally welcomed to their Olympiad teams. Our Olympiad opening break is coming up soon! Shhh!!!
Tonight, the BB/Bears and Eagles bring the British Invasion to the Phyllis Weisfeld Theatre with a celebration of the music of the Beatles called BeagleMania!
Visitors’ Day is only one week away and we can’t wait to see you!
July 12, 2023
Time flies at Wahanowin!! It’s hard to believe that our Two-Week campers are spending their last day at camp today. We will miss them!
Last night the barn was transformed into Alice in Wonderland’s world of wonders as Main Camp enjoyed our annual Midnight Madness program. The White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and Alice herself were there to guide the campers through the looking glass. There were treats, games, and a photo booth for our campers to enjoy.
The BB-Bears had a taste of the camping experience on their overnight at Balsam Lake. The weather was perfect, and the campers loved cooking steak fajitas by the campfire.
We are celebrating the end of the Two-Week program with an another LTP/BB/Bear/Eagle buddy picnic today.
The entire Senior unit left this morning for a two-night canoe trip in picturesque Algonquin Park. The kids are looking forward to getting to spend time in one of the most beautiful areas of Canada while they get to hang out and chill with each other. We’re so happy canoe tripping is back in 2023!
Our campers from Mexico returned yesterday from a special trip to Niagara Falls where they got to experience the Falls up close while on the Maid of the Mist!
The W Tournament was a huge success despite the afternoon rainout. Our Under 16 Girls Baseball team fought hard and emerged the champions of their tournament. We are proud of all our athletes who participated yesterday.
The summer of 2023 is full of Wahanowin Firsts. Earlier this week, we held our first ever Pickleball Tournament. This new activity is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports at camp. Congrats to all our competitors and a special shout out to our first pickle ball champions.
We are mixing things up at many of our activity areas this summer. Our trapeze team recently had campers participate in Trapeze Ball where they combined trapeze with basketball. The goal was to score a basket in a specially constructed net while swinging on the trapeze. It was a huge hit!
More to come in a few days but don’t forget to check out our pictures which will be posted on our website later today!
July 9, 2023
It’s been an action packed few days at Wahanowin!
Intercamp Sports and Dance Intercamp is back for 2023. Tryouts for all the sports teams and the dance pack have been ongoing. Our first big intercamp of the summer is the W Tournament on Tuesday played on our home turf where teams from several camps compete in an all-day softball tournament. Our teams are training hard to ensure the trophies remain on home soil. Tonight is our W Tournament Pep Rally – the entire camp gathers and celebrates our athletes to build enthusiasm for the big day.
On Friday night, the BB-Bear, Eagle and LTP units led our service in the theatre. The theme of the service was friendship and was a great reminder of the strong bonds that form at camp, many of which last our entire lives.
The first play of the summer was produced by our powerful Senior unit. They blew us away with their production of Annie which marked Mary Doyle’s first production as the Wahanowin Theatre Director.
Immediately after the play, the Directors surprised the camp with an intense game of Deal of No Deal, hosted by Elijah. Contestants competed for prizes on behalf of their cabins. Our game had all the excitement and suspense of the TV show. In the end, campers from cabins 28A and LTP3 won a trip to Kawartha Dairy. It was a Wahanowin first!
To honour the excellence of Annie, the camp enjoyed our first sleep in and brunch of the summer this morning.
The pace and schedule on Sunday varies from our typical program day as campers participate in Sunday Fun Day. They have more individual choice for the activities they attend which gives them a chance to work on skills they have been developing throughout the summer at their favourite areas.
The Eagle unit had an overnight on Thursday night at Balsam Lake. The highlight for many campers was getting to make smores by the campfire.
We also welcomed campers from Green Acres Day Camp for a weekend adventure to give them a taste of overnight camp life. It has been a perfect time for our guests to be at Wahanowin as they have experienced many thrilling camp wide events while also enjoying a fun filled activity schedule.
Don’t forget to check out our Week 1 Video Review and we look forward to providing further updates in a few days.
July 5, 2023
The fun continues at camp! Our campers have been here less than a week but it’s impossible to highlight everything that’s happened so far this summer.
It’s no secret to anyone living in southern Ontario that it’s HOT!!!! We continue to practice sun safety – we ensure campers are regularly applying sunscreen throughout the day, take lots of water breaks and we encourage campers to spend rest hour and other down times out of the sun. It’s also ideal to cool off in Lake Couchiching.
Tripping is back for 2023 and campers from our first two trips are back from the wilderness. The LTPs had their annual hiking trip where they went on a 10km hike in the beautiful Killbear Provincial Park. The CITS Whitewater rafting trip on the Ottawa River was a huge success and they are excited to begin their placements with campers and at activity areas.
Speaking of activities…our two newest activity areas are officially open!!! The campers and staff are loving Wahanowin’s brand new Tennis and Pickleball Complex. Our new courts are in a more central location. Also, the new Wahanowin Hockey Court is already a popular spot for cabin hockey games.
The waterski staff ran SkiCountry Day all day today. There was skiing, great Country & Western music, and a BBQ – all with a southern twist.
We had our weekly staff meeting on Monday with the highlight being our opportunity to celebrate our staff for the terrific start to the summer and honouring our Staff of the Week.
The Incredible Boris performed two hilarious shows (one for the campers and one for the staff) where volunteers were hypnotized and lovingly participated in the show.
We are just wrapping up the camp wide carnival where campers are enjoying a classic carnival experience – bouncy castles, sno-cones, cotton candy, pony rides, an inflatable mini putt and the Wahanowin dunk tank. It’s notable how popular the dunk tank is when Elijah is the “prize”.
You will see lots of pics and videos of everything we describe in the blog. Our Wednesday pics are already up and don’t forget to check out our photo gallery every Wednesday and Saturday.
July 2, 2023
Wahanowin 2023 is off to a phenomenal start. The weather has been perfect and camp is in full swing.
Friday night’s service was performed by our staff. The theme was Gratitude which reminded us how lucky and privileged we are to get to spend our summer here at camp.
The service culminated with the entire camp gathering at the waterfront, while everyone enjoyed a famous Wahanowin sunset. The head staff lit a ceremonial flame in a floating fire pit to represent the beginning of a new summer.
Sunday marked the onset of the BB/Bear and LTP buddy program with our annual Buddy Picnic. Each LTP camper is paired with a BB/Bear camper to give the campers a chance to connect and learn from each other.
The Seniors are hard at work on Annie which will be the first show of the summer to be presented at the Phyllis Weisfeld theatre on Saturday night.
Campers are working diligently on attaining levels at the activity areas which are celebrated with congratulatory announcements in the Dining Hall. We are proud of campers who work to achieve new levels at their favorite activities; there is also something special about seeing a camper trying a sport or craft for the first time. We love seeing the real time growth kids experience at Wahanowin.
Look out for our regular blog updates along with our photos and videos that get posted throughout the summer.
June 29, 2023
NO DAY BUT TODAY
Dear Wahanowin Families,
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.
No other path, no other way
No day but today
– Jonathan Larson (Rent)
Here we go! Welcome to Wahanowin’s 68th season. After months of preparation and planning, our campers are finally here. The moment the kids first stepped off the buses was pure bliss – the hugs, the cheers, the laughter, and the welcoming of new friends. It’s a privilege to get to experience this moment every summer.
Mother Nature cooperated to provide the perfect sunshine for opening day. Dinner was a Chef Adam specialty…pasta rotini!! Traditions matter at camp!
The Phyllis Weisfeld Theatre was rockin’ for our opening ceremonies where we introduced members of our Head Staff Team and campers cheered at the top of their lungs – all in their unit colours!
We finally have a moment to reflect as the sun has set on opening day. The campers are back at their cabins going through bedtime routines for their first night of Wahanowin 2023!
We are grateful for the enormous trust and confidence you put in us and the Wahanowin team. We are here to care for our campers like we would our own children – their physical and social/emotional safety is our top priority. And they are going to have the summer of a lifetime.
“No Day But Today” is the theme of the summer. Camp has an immeasurable and long-lasting impact on the lives of everyone at Wahanowin. It’s easy to forget that the summer is so short. That’s why it’s so critical to savour every moment. Camp is the perfect place to be constantly reminded of how lucky we are to spend our summers on Lake Couchiching.
The boundless enthusiasm of opening day has come to a close. We can’t wait for the sun to rise and for our first day of activities tomorrow. Let’s get this party started.
Here’s to Wahanowin 2023!!!
Elijah & Tia
PS: Check out our NEWSLETTERS on our website, we will update them every couple of days so you can stay in touch with what’s going on at camp.
August 22, 2022
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of lonliness can be cured.”
– Kurt Vonnegut
Camp is not a solitary endeavor. It doesn’t exist virtually. We share laughs, hugs, and occasionally some tears. In person. We develop new relationships and strengthen old ones. We solve problems face to face. We work towards common goals. We learn more about who we are as individuals while figuring out how we fit within the larger whole. We need support. We need each other.
Our final newsletter of the summer is a perfect opportunity to consider Wahanowin’s foundational value of COMMUNITY.
There is no better way to understand the importance of community at Wahanowin than to look back to our final Friday Night Service of the summer. It’s a tradition for the last service of the summer to be led by our CIT unit and everyone at camp who has achieved their 10+ year milestone at camp.
This service is an opportunity for the participants to reflect on the camp lifecycle. It’s always a moving and heartfelt night in the Phyllis Weisfeld Theatre. This year was extra special. Our campers, CITs and staff spoke passionately about how Wahanowin has impacted their lives.
Here is a small sample of what was said:
“I first came to camp in 2014 as an anxious BB camper, not knowing what to expect or how much this camp would change my life. Now, here I sit, 9 years later, as a CIT with more camp memories than I can count, a place I can call my second home, and friends that have become my family. I’ve grown so much and become a better person throughout my camp cycle, and I owe it all to Camp Wahanowin”.
– Adam Forman
“My camp lifecycle started as me being a homesick Senior camper crying to Bruce everyday begging to go home. The next summer, I gave camp a second chance and decided to sign up. That was the best decision I have ever made, since it led to camp now being my second home with all the memories and friends I have made. I cannot wait to make more as I take on a new leadership role as a staff at Wahanowin, as well as help the campers that feel the same way I did when I do not know or understand why this is such a special place”.
– Ariela Levin
“My camp life cycle is very unique. I remember coming up every summer as the Doctor’s little kid. I was welcomed every year with such amazing head staff and peers. I remember seeing all the big kids and my parents telling me that one day I’d be a camper just like them. Camp is the place I look forward to returning to every single year. Wahanowin has been such a significant part of my life for longer than I can remember. I’ve made so many memories and I hope to make many more”.
– Justin Carr
“After spending portions of my life at different camps, I’ve ended up at Wahanowin, a place that I can now call one of my homes. Coming into the CIT program was certainly a challenge as I was joining a group of people who have been forming relationships for many years. I’m so grateful to have an amazing cabin with lots of new friends. I also feel grateful for Tia, Elijah, Steve, Mary and Taylor who have helped and guided me through this crazy adventure. I can’t wait to come back next year and continue the life cycle in a different position, from a different point of view”.
– Meagan Goldberg
“When I first came to camp as a Senior camper, I was nervous that I wasn’t going to make any friends, but 6 years later, as a CIT, I know the friendships I made are going to last a lifetime. As my camper life cycle comes to an end, it is pretty cool that I’m sleeping in the same bed and cabin as I did my first summer at camp”.
– Izzy Hertzog
“For the last 10 years, not a day has passed when camp hasn’t crossed my mind. Wahanowin is my home and my happy place. I am beyond grateful for all the memories and friendships Wahanowin has gifted me”.
– Noa Mortensen
“The hardest part of the camp life cycle is accepting that our time as campers must come to an end and a new cycle is about to begin. We hope to come back as staff as long we can so that we can pass down the traditions that our counsellors showed us. That’s how we will contribute to the camp life cycle”.
– Riley Minsky, Olivia Fuss and Jenna Weir
“For the past 7 years of my life, I’ve considered camp as my second home. Each year is a new adventure that I get to live through with my friends. I hope that the camp life cycle never ends, and that many new campers can live through the experiences I had here at Wahanowin”.
– Ben Simanovsky
“From our first time stepping off the bus, we immediately knew that camp would be a special place. Coming back each year to our second home was what we always looked forward to. Counting down the days from 365 to 100 to the first day of camp, the excitement would continue to grow as the first days of camp approached. All our friends, counsellors and head staff have been a major part of our incredible summers we have had. Each year, we can count on new and exciting experiences at camp. We have learned so much here, and it has helped shape who we are as people. As our camper life cycle is coming to an end and we are beginning our staff life cycle, we are excited to continue to make friendships and memories that will last forever and lessons that we will always cherish”.
– Sophia Levy & Justine Sneiderman
“We recently come across the speech we made two years ago, when camp was cancelled. This speech was what we were planning to say at our CIT service and now here we are. When camp was cancelled in 2020, it made us realize how much we truly love Wahanowin. We wrote about how we had to miss out on so many opportunities: the excitement of the countdowns, the packing, the night before, the day of, the buses, seeing that ‘Welcome to Wahanowin’ sign on arrival, Airbands, Colour War, Survivor and our goodbyes were all taken away. It made us realize how much we should appreciate both the hard, easy, good and bad times at camp. Every camper in this theatre should appreciate every day they have as a camper since it does not last forever. We are excited to return for our 10th next summer and help our campers feel the same appreciation about Wahanowin as we do.”
– Meeka Daniels & Corrie Spetter
“When my camp life cycle began, I was a nervous BB with less than zero clue the impact Wahanowin was about to have on me. But after 10 years of Camping my Style, Celebrating the Summer, Camp Believing, Camplifying, Being a Camp Champ, Living the Camp Life, Camplicating, Camping Together, Being a Wahanowin Hero and, hopefully, Leaving My Camp Legacy, I have become much more aware of how special and impactful this place truly is. Because at camp, I have grown up to become a better version of myself. I have been influenced by the many people who have come and gone over the years, I have made friendships and memories to last a lifetime and realized there is no better way to spend a summer than to spend it at Wahanowin”.
– Jesse Garber
Camp is like being on your favourite amusement park ride with your closest friends. Once it starts, you experience a thrilling journey, but it ends in the blink of an eye. There is no time to reflect. What makes it special is that we get to do it with our Wahanowin community. With the end of the summer upon us, we can finally begin to look back at the summer of 2022. It has been an extraordinary ride.
We remain endlessly grateful to you for sharing your children with us this summer. Let the countdown to the Summer of 2023 begin!
Elijah & Tia
August 9, 2022
“We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect”.
– Michelle Obama
It’s hard to believe we’re already starting to think about the end of the summer. We’re not there yet though! There are many fantastic programs and events still to come. As the finish line is starting to form on the horizon, let’s look back and see what has been happening at Wahanowin over the past week:
- Survivor: Our annual game of Survivor had 18 castaways from the Alumni, LTP and CIT units but, in the end, there was only 1 Survivor. Congrats to Avery James on a well-deserved victory. Be sure to follow our photos and videos found on our website to catch all the action! Abe in the Alumni unit was one of the castaways. For him, the best thing about this year’s program was “making new friends with people I never thought I would. I also love the survivor inside jokes!”
- In the Theatre: The Alumni/LTP units entertained the camp with their production of the classic story of Shrek the Musical on Saturday night. Kassidy played Fiona in the show. She learned a lot about performing from being in this year’s show: “I learned commitment through having to be on time and being in the theatre multiple times a day.”
- Wahano-One: We welcomed over 60 future Wahanowin campers for a one-day camp experience where the CITs took on a significant leadership role in looking after our campers-to-be. Our CIT, Corrie, told us she enjoyed the experience because “It was a special day for me because I remember being a Wahano-One camper over 10 years ago. I really enjoyed being a part of these campers first experience at camp. I hope I made a positive impact on the campers so they will be back at camp next summer.”
- Sabrina and Zach got “married!”: It may not have been an official wedding, but the whole camp enjoyed everything from the ceremony, the dinner, the dancing and even the hora. For one of our younger campers, Ben, the coolest part of the wedding was “the wedding cake and the party!!!”
- Grad/PG Colour War: The two-day games between Teams Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner ended with Lunch being chosen as the ultimate meal. For Grad camper Leona, Colour War was a great opportunity for her to “meet new campers in my unit and get to know the PGs better.”
- Alumni/LTP Colour War: The annual three-day event is underway. The campers are having a blast and working hard to bring victory for Teams Plankton, Mr. Krabs and Squidward. LTP camper Jamie articulated why Alumni/LTP Colour War is one of the most popular traditions at Wahanowin: “Following in the footsteps of the past captains is such a big deal. Looking up to the people that were before me, they were my counsellors, specialists and even unit heads. It is what I aspire to be, and I hope one day my campers do the same.”
The above are only small examples of the hundreds of things that happen at Wahanowin every day. When we reflect on how this happens, it comes down to the cooperation and coordination of many people in all facets of this ‘mini-city’ that we live in for the summer.
We are reminded why RESPECT is one of our fundamental values. Whether you are a camper, counsellor, kitchen staff, maintenance staff, director, office staff, activity specialist or unit head, everyone plays a critical role at Wahanowin. We need and rely on each other every day. Campers interact with all members of our community which helps build a sense of empathy that is unique to camp.
There is no formal hierarchy at camp. Campers learn very early on that everyone is to be treated the same. It may be cliché but we believe wholeheartedly in teaching campers to ‘treat others as they wish to be treated’. Not only is that kind of respect important as a value for us; it is critical to the success of our camp community. Our campers and staff must learn to live in the same cabin room as 10 to 15 other people. That cannot happen without developing a sense of empathy and understanding on how to navigate through the inevitable challenges and bumps that come up during the summer.
As we write this, our campers, CITs and staff have welcomed 32 campers from the Reena Foundation. These one-day campers join us with unique physical and developmental disabilities. Wahanowin has always been a place where they feel safe and accepted. We are overjoyed that we can continue to welcome Reena to camp each summer. Respect is fundamental to their integration into camp life.
It may be too early think about the end of the summer, but it’s never too early to reflect on what makes a successful summer at Wahanowin. A lot of life lessons are learned just by being in this environment. However, there are several things we hope your children take away from Wahanowin because of what we represent and who we are as a camp.
We remain grateful to you for your trust in us.
Elijah and Tia
July 26, 2022
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”.
– Warren Buffett
You may notice that your kids have grown an inch or two when they step off the bus. Less obvious, is the emotional growth they have experienced at camp. Those are the changes you start to see over time: newly found confidence; a love of a new activity; a deeper level of empathy for others.
This newsletter will focus on another one of Wahanowin’s core values: GROWTH. We see it all the time. Some growth happens naturally, but a lot of it stems from the comfort and support kids enjoy at camp. Whether it’s the quiet Eagle camper who finds it thrilling to be in the heat of the spotlight on the Phyllis Weisfeld stage or the LTP camper who embraces the challenge of leadership as a Colour War captain, there is a place for everyone at Wahanowin to discover the best version of themselves. There are also the times when campers learn to navigate a challenging situation.
There was a sweet moment we witnessed earlier this summer that perfectly exemplifies the growth that happens at Wahanowin. Scarlett from the BB-Bear unit was trying the trapeze for the first time. She was slowly climbing the ladder to get to the trapeze platform. She stopped several times as she became increasingly nervous the higher she ascended. Scarlett started to climb down because she was “too scared” to continue. At first, one or two of her cabin mates offered encouragement: “keep going Scarlett!” She climbed another couple of steps but then froze. Three or four of the other girls started chanting “you can do it Scarlett”. One more step up and then three down. It didn’t look good. Her counsellor, Frida, went to the bottom of the ladder and gently said “I’m here for you, Scarlett. You got this”. Eventually the whole cabin, the trapeze staff and a few campers who happened to be walking by were all cheering for Scarlett to get to the trapeze platform: “Come on. You can do it!!!!” After several minutes, the volume of support continued to swell until, finally, Scarlett made it to the top. She excitedly swung on the trapeze and came down with a smile that would melt hearts.
That is camp.
There are countless examples of growth that kids experience at Wahanowin. It’s best to hear it directly from our campers:
Joely from the BB/Bear unit told us that “Camp helped me grow by making new friends and trying new things every day.”
Jackson from the Eagle unit exclaimed “I came out of my shell and grew by never giving up at activities when it was scary. I made new friends and laughed A LOT!”
Sammie from Seniors proudly reflected on the times she “Tried new things this summer, like trapeze. I also showed growth by having new experiences.”
Josh from the Grad unit discussed with his counsellors that he was really homesick at the beginning and then realized he has friends who support him and help when needed. “At the beginning I didn’t talk to anyone and now I am close friends with most and feel more confident. I tried wake-surfing for the first time. It was hard because I used to be scared of the fast boat.”
Gabby from PeeGees said “Camp has helped me grow in lots of ways. I’ve made many new friends this summer and have tried new things. I’ve learned how to waterski, and overall camp has helped me become a better, stronger person.”
Olivia in our Alumni unit felt she “showed incredible growth this summer by starting off very homesick and wanting to leave, to adapting to camp, learning to love it, and overcoming homesickness.”
Harrison, a long time Wahanowin camper in the LTP unit, proudly claims “Since my first summer at camp until now, I have seen my social skills grow greatly. I have continued to make new friends and learn to interact with my cabin-mates as well as others around camp.”
One of the incredible privileges of our job is that we see our campers and staff grow every day. We may not notice the changes in height that occur during the summer, but for us, the growth we see in your children is just as tangible.
We can’t believe today is the last day of first session.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience these moments. We are forever grateful.
Elijah and Tia
July 15, 2022
To highlight the importance of our values to us, each of our bi-weekly newsletters will focus on one core Wahanowin value.
One of Wahanowin’s four fundamental values is Tradition. As the pace of change in the world accelerates through the 21st century, we believe that the continuation of many of the camp’s programs and events through the years holds significant meaning for generations of campers. Over time, new traditions have been developed. Some traditions are adapted but they fundamentally remain the same. These traditions create an invisible bond among campers and staff who have attended Wahanowin from the 1950s to today.
With only two weeks into the summer of 2022, we have already experienced several Wahanowin traditions. Below is a small taste of the summer of 2022 so far.
Carnival has been an important Wahanowin event for decades. Campers and staff gathered in the main field to play carnival games for prizes, enjoy pony rides, embrace the challenge of seeing their favourite staff get submerged in the dunk tank and, of course, eat cotton candy and cool off with colourful sno-cones. BB/Bear camper, Sabrina, attended her first Wahanowin carnival and emphatically declared her favourite part to be “horseback riding!”. LTP camper, Lucas has been to 5 carnivals. He loves to “dunk the directors in the dunk tank”.
The camp spends most Saturday nights in the Phyllis Weisfeld Theatre being entertained by a musical performed by one or more of our units. Last Saturday, the Senior unit produced the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats! While the recent movie version of the show wasn’t a big hit, the Senior unit’s production was a smashing success. For actor Jake, the show was his first time on the Phyllis Weisfeld stage. While he was a little intimidated at first, he gave a pitch perfect performance in the role of Grizabella. Jake proudly stated that performing in front of a packed house was “fun and exciting, and only happens at camp”.
The BB/Bear and Eagle units recently had an overnight experience away from their cabins. The evening began with a trip up to the Grove followed by a campfire with gooey smores and songs around the campfire. This was Henry’s first overnight experience. He embraced the change in scenery and especially enjoyed “LOTS of marshmallows!!”. For BB/Bear camper, Abe, getting to sleep outside of his cabin was cool because “he was a bit nervous but had a lot of fun”.
CIT White Water Rafting
The CIT Unit braved some inconsistent weather but thoroughly enjoyed their experience in the rapids on the Ottawa River. For Wahanowin veteran, Natalie, the best part of the overnight rafting trip was “that it was right at the beginning of the summer so CITs were able to bond right from the start”.
The annual camp wide Olympiad is a ‘newer’ Wahanowin tradition, with the games beginning about 20 years ago. Team Waha faces Team Nowin in a one-day battle of strength, speed, artistic merit, intellect, and fun. This year Team Waha was led by captains, Jake Redshaw and Sabrina Siegel. Team Nowin was championed by team captains Logan Brown and Lucy Baker.
The competition was fierce but fairly fought and came down to only a few points separating the teams. In the end, Team Nowin emerged the winner despite placing second in the marathon! For Nowin team member Matti, the key to the team’s victory was “a new strategy, more energy and everyone worked together”. Nowin team member, Aidan, was an integral part in his team’s win in the block and bucket challenge. He attributes his success to “constant spirit and trying to lift the spirits of everyone around him”.
Grad camper and Waha team member Chloe wasn’t discouraged by this year’s loss. In her view, Team Waha needs to focus on “winning the Unit mini-competitions” for Olympiad 2023.
As we say in one of our favourite songs, “So much goes on at Wahanowin.”
Thank you for sharing your children with us. We’re having a blast!
Until next time!
Elijah and Tia