To highlight the importance of our values to us, each of our bi-weekly newsletters this summer will focus on one core Wahanowin value.
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