Our Kids 20th logo

Our Kids Camp & Program Reviews

Objective, detailed reviews of more than 350 camps and programs.

On this page you’ll find:

Capsule reviews: of Canadian summer camps, day camps, and kids programs, all written by staff writers of Our Kids. Each review provides an objective, thumbnail sketch of a camp’s strengths, community, and position within the spectrum of camps and programs available across the country.

Having worked closely with camps and programs for more than two decades, we know that every camp is unique, just as every child has their own constellation of interests and aptitudes. These reviews were written to help guide families, granting a objective sense of what various camps offer. As such, it’s an invaluable tool for finding the right setting for your child, one in which he or she will feel comfortable, challenged, engaged, and part of a group of peers that share a core set of interests, passions, and abilities. No camp is for every child, but, by the same token, for every child, there is a great camp experience waiting to be enjoyed.

Camper & parent reviews: coming soon

Use the headers below to sort camps by name, location and whether they have reviews.
You can also search for specific terms with the search bar

Name
Location
User review (coming soon)

Camp Name

  • Arrowhead Camp

    Dwight, Ontario

    Our Take: Arrowhead Camp

    our take

    Programming clusters around traditional camp activities, including sailing, swimming, and the arts. The sense of participation within a longer tradition is signaled within the culture of the camp and elsewhere, including the buildings, some of which, while updated and modernized, have been in use since the site was first developed as a girls’ camping 1954. The camp community is smaller than some, allowing for a very close-knit feel, something that is a draw for the families that enroll. Programming rightly makes the most of the natural resources, including the surrounding woodland and the lake, and while the sun is shining, campers are out there, engaging with all of it. It’s an active day, and the intention is to allow kids to get some of their beans out while building confidence in their abilities and a sense of their place in the world.

Dwight 0
  • Art Gallery of Ontario Art Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Art Gallery of Ontario Art Camps

    our take

    The AGO is known for innovation, something that is symbolized in the redesign of the building by Frank Gehry, completed in 2008. The camps are about art, but they extend that in all kinds of interesting ways, exploring where art intersects with culture, science, and life. As such, the sessions don’t focus on media, but concepts. An Aviation session, for example, looks at flight using paper airplanes, the experimentation of Da Vinci as noted in his codices, and drawing birds in flight. One session looked at created habitat for urban wildlife. And on it goes. New themes are offered each summer, though all are as inspired as they are inspiring. The AGO camps are one of a kind, and have rightly grown a strong reputation and devoted following.

Toronto 0
  • Black Creek Pioneer Village Day Camp

    Woodbridge, Ontario

    Our Take: Black Creek Pioneer Village Day Camp

    our take

    It’s right to expect that Black Creek offers summer programs based in history, and certainly they do. That said, the programing is more varied, and more creative, than you’d think at first blush. Sessions range from craft programs, to superheroes saving the village from villains. Kids love to dress up, to try on new identities in new contexts, and that’s something that the setting here offers in abundance. Even for adults, it’s a chance to step away from the city, though without having to drive hours to do so. That environment is a draw, though so is the expertise and the creativity with which the programs are run. They’ve been at it a long time, and have built a strong staff and best practices. There’s certainly a lot to love, not restricted to a chance for kids to step back in time.

Woodbridge 0
  • Brentwood College School Summer Camps

    Mill Bay, British Columbia

    Our Take: Brentwood College School Summer Camps

    our take

    There’s a lot that’s remarkable about Brentwood college beyond the obvious, which is the beauty of the campus, the stellar resources, and peaceful setting. In the 1990s, it became one of the first schools in the country to make a substantial commitment to sustainable energy, building a performing arts centre that includes a geothermal loop for heating and cooling. There’s also a salmon run along the school boundary. Brentwood is noted for both its academics and athletics, and all of the schools strengths come to bear on its summer programs. In many ways, and throughout the year, the offering at Brentwood is arguably second to none.

Mill Bay 0
  • Bytown Brigantine Tall Ships Adventure

    Brockville, Ontario

    Our Take: Bytown Brigantine Tall Ships Adventure

    our take

    For many kids, camp is the only chance to really step outside of their comfort zones, whether that means getting caught in the rain, or speaking to a crowd, or simply engaging with others in a collaborative setting. At Bytown Brigantine, they’ll do all of that and sail tall ships with fully licensed youth crew on Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence, and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s as rustic as it is unique. “It’s not a cruise,” says Christy Griffin, the executive director. “You’re stepping aboard as a crew member.” There are lots of things to do, and everyone does them. At the same time, kids learn about the weather patterns, do chart work, even prep food in the galley. Hands-on all round, and unlike activities at other camps, there’s a sense of responsibility that runs through it all: the work of the ship needs to be done, and it’s the job of everyone on board to do it. It also isn’t for the faint of heart. Griffin recalls that one year there was a girl who was terrified of heights, and resistant to getting up into the rigging. Even so, the boat is its own world, with everyone leading by example, and within a few days, she was up there, too, getting the job done and loving it. They all do, even without their phones, and devices are only available to the kids while they are in port. Different sessions take different routes, including stops along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the U.S. In some instances, the boat takes part in festivals and events, at times along other tall ships and their crews. In port, the kids are the experts, representing the ship, its crew, and interpreting the experience aboard. For the right person, it’s an unforgettable life experience.  

Brockville 0
  • Camp Arowhon

    Algonquin Park, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Arowhon

    our take

    If there is a downside to attending Arowhon, we’ve yet to find it. The facilities and location are like a postcard of what a traditional camp should look like, and what a traditional camp should be. The programs are organized to allow campers to have a sense of ownership for what they do, and a sense of independence while doing it. Skills are used to build relationships, behaviours, and the values that form the core of the program. The staff is dedicated, with a consistent leadership since the camp was founded in 1934. Director Joanne Kates is also a vocal and prominent advocate of camping in general, and is often in the media writing and speaking on its social, physical, and psychological benefits. One parent described the Arowhon staff as engaged, dynamic, supportive, “and they’re present. That’s really the most important thing: they’re present.” She means that in the sense that they’re not simply by the campers’ sides, but they’re attuned to their needs, providing support and fellowship. She’s right. That really is the most important thing, and it doesn’t just happen. It’s the product of the culture of the camp, the people it attracts, and the values it imparts, all of which are rightly the foremost draws for the families that enrol here.

Algonquin Park 0
  • Camp Can-Aqua

    Cardiff, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Can-Aqua

    our take

    We often tend to think first of activities at camp: what kids will do there. Camp Can-Aqua, like all great camp programs, is developed with the full range of activities, though leadership addresses itself less to the what than the why—the activities are there to provide opportunities to grow independence and character, to expose kids to new things, new ideas, and to have fun while they do all of that. That’s the spirit in which Louis Gyori founded the camp more than 30 years ago, and one that continues at the camp today. The core activities are those we associate with traditional camping, and all are applied to allowing kids gain a greater understanding of who they are and what they are capable of. There are specialty programs, including leadership training, which are a draw for many. The camp also offers family camp sessions, which is a great in and of itself, though can also provide a nice entrée to the camp experience and the culture of Can-Aqua.

Cardiff 0
  • Camp Couchiching

    Longford Mills, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Couchiching

    our take

    Couchiching isn’t the oldest camp in the country, but it shares a tradition with those that are. The camp has also long been at the leading edge of what camps can offer, and who they can offer it to. Cooch was perhaps one of the first to go entirely co-ed, which it did in the 1960s, though it had offered girls’ programs prior to that. Soon after, the administration sought to reach kids with special medical needs, and established the Ontario Cystic Fibrosis Camp. The idea, in that and other like programs that followed, was to allow kids to get beyond their exceptionalities: the camp provided the supports they needed, within a community that didn’t see them as exceptional. Today, that model is common throughout the world of camping, though at the time it was fairly groundbreaking. And while times have changed, the values haven’t, and Couchiching rightly prides itself on bringing kids together in order to grow, build friendships, and participate in a values-based community. The camp community extends well beyond the summer, or even youth—the relationships begun here continue into campers’ adult lives, as demonstrated in part through an involved community of camp alumni.

Longford Mills 0
  • Camp Ecolart

    Montreal, Quebec

    Our Take: Camp Ecolart

    our take

    All camps are unique, and Ecolart is a prime example of that. It offers sessions on the campus of John Abbott College, a public CEGEP on the western tip of the island of Montreal. As such, the facilities and the resources to hand—including athletic, residential, and academic—are exceptional. There are six week-long day camp sessions that run concurrently with three two-week residential sessions. There is an international flavour to the residential programs, given that many campers arrive from quite far afield. The programs are mixed, so even the day campers experience a uniquely international culture, getting to know young people from across the country and around the world. Days are active, and include some day excursions, visiting local attractions and, during some sessions, venturing as far as Ottawa and a tour of Parliament Hill. The camp provides transportation to and from the airport at the beginning and end of each residential session, which is certainly a nice plus. Ecolart is a company based in Canada that also runs programs in Squamish, BC, and San Diego, California. The administration is experienced and professional, very adept at providing a high level of service and seamless programing with the needs of both local and international campers in mind.

Montreal 0
  • Camp Hurontario

    Mactier, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Hurontario

    our take

    Pauline Hodgetts, the current director, has recalled how her father, Birnie Hodgetts was caught in a storm during a fishing trip in 1946, and sought shelter in a bay, where he and his brother hunkered down for the night. In the morning, he said “This is where I will have my camp.” It took a bit of work (which Pauline recounts here) but, as improbable as it might seem, he did. Founded in 1947, Hurontario remains today what it was at the beginning: a camp where boys can live and work together, form meaningful relationships, grow leadership skills, and gain a sense of themselves. The most traditional camp activities—canoeing, tripping, sailing, the arts—have been augmented over the years, though done very intentionally to ensure that the focus on values, character, and leadership remain the core of the program.

Mactier 0
  • Camp Nominingue

    Nominingue, Quebec

    Our Take: Camp Nominingue

    our take

    Nominigue has had a few ups and downs in its long life, though now is perhaps within its golden age, the one where the programs, the staff, and the culture are as strong as they are impressive. As when it was founded, Nominigue offers a boys’ program operating in English. As such, it draws boys from a wider catchment area, including Montreal, Toronto, and beyond. The draw is the strength of the program, one that seeks to allow boys to grow together, though fun and challenge, and allow them to better understand their strengths and talents, both individually and within a group. Grant McKenna is the current director—he’s a delight to speak with, and is as great a proponent of camp you can ever hope to find. He knows that camp can change lives, and that’s why he’s here. While he has a long history with the camp, he has also spent a good deal of his professional life within the world of business, a unique and valuable perspective that he brings to running the camp and its programs. Nominigue also builds canoes, so the ones that the boys use were built on site. Those canoes are found elsewhere, too, including other camps; Wanakita has a few that were bought decades ago but are still in use. The canoes—built here, by hand—underscore the unique yet very traditional experience that campers find here each summer.

Nominingue 0
  • Camp North Star

    Poland Spring, Maine(USA)

    Our Take: Camp North Star

    our take

    Not all camps conform to the idea that many people might have of camp, though North Star, in all the best ways, truly does. On a wooded property, on a lake, it offers all the traditional activities that you’d expect from a summer camp. That said, the experience isn’t really about activities; those things are just tools that the counsellors and staff use to do other, better things, such as encouraging campers to gain a sense of themselves, their talents and challenges, and a greater understanding of their place in the world. Steven and Brooke Bernstein are the definition of camp people, having spent the better portion of their lives at camp, thinking about camp, and developing the programs at North Star. As such, were you to ask them about what the camp offers, they’d talk about values, friendships, resilience, and community. That’s what camp is all about, and is also the reason that parents, rightly, turn to Camp North Star. 

Poland Spring 0
  • Camp Northway/ Wendigo

    Algonquin Park, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Northway/ Wendigo

    our take

    Northway is the oldest girls camp in Canada, having been founded in 1906, and so much of the camp’s charm comes from the long-standing traditions and the approach. It’s hard to imagine a more traditional camp than this: paper and envelopes are listed in what to bring, and campers really do write real letters home. iPods, jewelry, cell phones, and valuables aren’t allowed. When campers arrive, they are really here, immersed in all the priorities of the camp: spending time together, singing together, and experiencing something different. It’s not a time capsule, but rather a place that has stayed absolutely true to the ideals that it was formed around. And it’s as charming, and charmingly beautiful, as any summer camp you could ever hope to find. The programming is strong and varied, though the experience of place is the focus. The campers stay in canvas, cabin-style tents, and they spend their time doing the most traditional activities: canoeing, sailing, tripping, reading, making crafts. The current director, Brookes Prewitt, came as a child in 1951 because his mother was camp director, and he’s been at Northway literally every summer since. That’s a run of 66 years. His mother was director for 26 years prior to him. Wilson, Brookes’ son, first came to camp when he was three months old, and he’s been there every summer since, taking various leadership roles along the way. That’s pretty great too. Girls who have attended Northway know that they’ve participated in something quietly unique, which is an experience which unites them, even much later in life. 

Algonquin Park 0
  • Camp Oconto

    Tichborne, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Oconto

    our take

    Oconto is one of the great girls’ camps in the county, with a long history of consistent leadership. Founded in 1924, Lisa and Bruce Wilson have directed the camp since 1982, taking over from Lisa’s parents, who purchased Oconto in 1949. Lisa arrived for her first camp season at three months of age, and she has been back every year since. She’s been a leader in the camping world for decades, having served as president of the Society of Camp Directors, and as member of the board of the Ontario Camping Association. In all, there’s an impressive pedigree here, one that is still evident throughout the camp, from the architecture—the main hall, for one, has been in continual use since 1924—to the values that are promoted through the programming. The sense of tradition is palpable and animates the Oconto experience; girls who have attended feel that they are part of a family, one that is shared with the campers who went before. The activities are varied, though it’s the experience of the culture of the camp that campers typically treasure the most.

Tichborne 0
  • Camp Portneuf

    St-Raymond, Quebec

    Our Take: Camp Portneuf

    our take

    All kids need to be challenged, though they don’t all need to be challenged in the same way. Camp Portneuf in Lac Sept-Iles, Québec, is a traditional camp with a twist, in a sense, in that it focusses on supporting kids with behavioural problems. That can include a range of things, though a diagnosis isn’t so much an issue as it is simply providing a positive space for children who are struggling in other social environments. Director Marie-Pierre Lacasse is frankly inspiring, and brings a wonderful perspective to the camp. She says that her goal is to deliver “a life impacting type of experience, for kids that typically don’t’ fit in.” She adds, “Who hasn’t been labelled? Who hasn’t been set aside? At the end of the week we want them all to have had just a regular experience.” That includes all the traditional outdoor activities, though with a lot of latitude for kids simply to explore the world around them at their own pace. Says Lacasse, “If my kids what to follow ants for an hour. Great! That’s an awesome activity!” Watching ants is a great activity, in her mind, not because of what kids learn about ants, but the time it gives them to slow down a bit, and follow their curiosity, and support the values inherent in the camp experience. As such, they all experience of empowerment, as well as a sense of trust and responsibility, that can be transformative. “These are great kids!” says Lacasse, and what makes her such a great director is that she takes the time, and makes the effort, to allow them to see that in themselves.

St-Raymond 0
  • Camp Tamakwa

    Huntsville, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Tamakwa

    our take

    Tamakwa is a camp that has become part of the national culture in ways that others can only envy. As a camper Michael Budman discovered a culture and an aesthetic that would later become central to the Roots Canada brand, a company he co-founded. When Roots ultimately outfitted the Canadian Olympic teams from 1998 to 2004, there was a little bit of Tamakwa in the image that Canada was projecting to the world. It wasn’t just the aesthetic that impressed Budman, of course, but also the values that were represented there: confidence, communication, leadership development, environmental stewardship, and self-expression. David Stringer has been at the camp for more than 60 years. He’s the son of Omer Stringer, the legendary canoeist and outdoorsman, and director at Tamakwa, as was his father before him. While the camp has grown and changed over the years, that continuity is one of the draws, and the program remains centred on the values that were there from the earliest days.  David says of his father, “If he could see this third generation of kids tipped over on the side of their canoe, paddling, he’d be thrilled.” It’s that experience—of participating in something bigger than ourselves—that remains a hallmark of what Tamakwa has to offer.

Huntsville 0
  • Camp Tanamakoon

    Huntsville, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Tanamakoon

    our take

    In some respects, Tanamakoon is the very definition of the camping tradition in Canada. It was founded in Algonquin in 1925, and has changed little in the near century since. It remains a place for girls to get out into the woods and to engage in the traditional activities associated with camp: canoeing, camp craft, singing, the arts. Dora Mavor Moore attended the camp, and the stage that she designed there to house the nascent drama program is still there today, still the cornerstone of the program. Maybe most of the campers don’t remember who she was, or the impact she had on drama in Canada, but the stage remains a symbol, nevertheless, of how the camp has reached out from the property, playing a quiet yet indelibly positive role in the larger culture as well as the life of the campers who have attended. Since 1984 Tanamakoon has been run by Kim and Marilyn Smith, providing a nice continuity to the program. The same is true of the director, Patti Thom, who has been involved since arriving as a camper 1964. She is a prominent voice in the camping world, and, as ever, she brings a vibrant spirit to the entire enterprise. For her camping is about values, which is just as it should be.

Huntsville 0
  • Camp Wabikon

    Temagami, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Wabikon

    our take

    Wabikon has all the things we’d expect to see in a strong, established, traditional camp: a focus on the core activities, an attention to personal and interpersonal development, and a fun, engaging environment. The location and resources follow in that mold, including a stunning setting in Temagami. Where it differs from other camps of its quality and programming is in an attention to bringing an international community together in a way that augments the camp experience for all. Most camps of course have campers arriving from farther afield, though Wabikon has made that one of its foci, principally brining young people together for the purpose of an international experience. That’s a very nice piece, and Wabikon is a leader in that regard. Campers get a full camp experience, as well as exposure to the larger world, one that encourages an understanding of their place within it.

Temagami 0
  • Camp Wenonah

    Bracebridge, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Wenonah

    our take

    There’s a lot to love about Camp Wenonah, one of the foremost being Jeff Bradshaw, the director since he founded the camp in 1982. The goal, then as now, is to provide “a healthy respect and appreciation for one’s self, for others, and for the natural world.” To say that they do exactly that is an understatement. Wenonah has long been an example of what camp be in the lives of children, often in remarkable ways. For example, Wenonah was one of the first camps in Ontario to host Syrian refugees, something Bradshaw did without a blink. The program was an inspiration to others, and continues to be. Tellingly, the camp website doesn’t talk about future campers but rather “future families,” and that’s really how the experience is envisioned: as one that involves families, and does so over the longer term. The activities are those we associate with the core of the camping tradition, though have been thoughtfully augmented over the years. The site, too, continues to grow, something that furthers the breadth of what Wenonah is able to offer and the number of campers it’s able to offer it to.

Bracebridge 0
  • Canadian Adventure Camp

    Temagami, Ontario

    Our Take: Canadian Adventure Camp

    our take

    The Canadian Adventure Camp has a focus on gymnastics, including some very skill-based and frankly difficult activities, such as silks, which was added fairly recently. “We’ve also added hoops, these are all kind of like cirque, or circus elements,” says Justin Gerson, admitting that “it’s quite a difficult sport.” Still, even though a majority of campers don’t attend for the gymnastics program, they all try it, as they do the full range of activities, many of which—such as the gyro—are provided precisely because they are atypical. Campers are encouraged to get out of their comfort zones, to some extent, in order to grow into a better understanding of their strengths, talents, and capabilities. There is an attention to skill development, though character development is a goal of the program as well. Set on a private island in Temagami, with the full range of camp traditions, there’s certainly a lot to love. Staffing is sport specific, with experienced coaches in all of the activity areas. Leadership of the camp has also been consistent, with Skip Connett at the helm since he founded the Canadian Adventure Camp in 1975.

Temagami 0
  • Cedar Ridge Camp

    McArthurs Mills, Ontario

    Our Take: Cedar Ridge Camp

    our take

    Cedar Ridge is unique in that it’s a relatively young camp—its inagural summer was in 2007—yet designed to offer a wholly traditional, time-worn camp experience. The founders gained a love for what camp can do, as well as the traditions, while campers and staff at Camp Mazinaw and Kilcoo Camp. The creation of Cedar Ridge was, in truth, a labour of love, and that labour has been rewarded. The days are active, covering all of the basics from canoeing and swimming, to horseback riding. If it’s a bit of a time capsule, it’s nevertheless one in all the right ways—in emulating the traditional camp experience, founders Peter Ruys de Perez and Grayson Burke wanted to create a space where young people can work together in order to stretch themselves, discover their talents, and build resiliency. Rightly, it's about environment and culture as much as it is activities and learning, and that’s why families turn to Cedar Ridge. It's also why the camp has gained an impressive reputation in a relatively short space of time.

McArthurs Mills 0
  • Centauri Summer Arts Camp

    Wellandport, Ontario

    Our Take: Centauri Summer Arts Camp

    our take

    The programs at Centauri are firmly based in an interest in the arts, and campers typically enroll with the intention of developing their skills within a specific area of interest. They spend a portion of each day within that area, learning and developing alongside others of like interests and abilities. That said, it’s also a camp, and the intention is very much centered on personal and interpersonal development, having fun, and engaging creatively with others. In that, it’s a true camp experience, one that includes campfires, theme days, and dining hall chants. It’s a place for kids to have fun, to be themselves, and to learn while extending themselves within a safe, supportive, empathetic environment. In all, it’s a unique camp experience, and for the families that attend, that’s certainly the principal draw.

Wellandport 0
  • Cherry Beach Soccer Club

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Cherry Beach Soccer Club

    our take

    Two of the best things that any camp can offer is A) meaningful engagement with peers who share an area of interest, and B) mentorship. Cherry Beach offers both of those in spades. The staff consists of qualified coaches and instructors, people who know soccer intimately and are also keen to work with young people. While there are a range of programs, all allow campers to interact with others who, in a sense, speak their language. Three locations throughout the GTA make the programs accessible, while also allowing an experience with other activities, including sailing. Soccer may be the core activity, but the camps will be of interest to all kids who thrive in environments that are challenging, supportive, and activity-based.

Toronto 0
  • City Scouts: Urban Adventure Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: City Scouts: Urban Adventure Camp

    our take

    We often think of camp as synonymous with the presence of a lake, some forest, canoes and campfires. Of course, camp isn’t that. You could even have all those things and still not have camp. A better definition would be this: counsellors who work to bring kids together to have fun, to grow, to experience new things, and to build friendships, skills and resilience. And, while City Scouts may not look like the camp stereotype, it nevertheless provides all of those things in abundance. Riley Millican founded City Scouts in a belief in the power of counsellors’ ability to build great relationships, and in the understanding that the urban jungle, in and of itself, is a fantastic place to explore. This isn’t about going to attractions—the ROM one day, the AGO the next, and Wonderland at the end of the week—but really digging in and experiencing the city in and of itself. Which, frankly, kids love, as well they should. The city is a vibrant place that they often only see while on their way somewhere; they lack authentic opportunities to interact with the spaces and the people they find there. City Camp is, for many kids, a unique opportunity to slow down, even within the urban rush, and to explore their world in a new way with a bunch of other kids just like them, and all wearing the same t-shirts. For parents, it’s a great, eminently cost-effective option, right there on your doorstep.

Toronto 0
  • CMU College Makeup Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: CMU College Makeup Camps

    our take

    The best camps are those that allow kids to engage with their interests along with peers who share them, and that’s something the CMU camps offer in abundance. The sessions attract young people who have a passion for fashion, media, and communication, allowing them to exercise that passion with others in a professional setting. For many campers it’s a means of building skills, servicing talents, and allowing them to begin imagining how they might be further developed. For others it’s a chance to experience something different, which to some extent is what the summer months are really all about.

Toronto 0
  • Cornell International Summer Debate Camp

    Ithaca, New York

    Our Take: Cornell International Summer Debate Camp

    our take

    Debate is undergoing something of a resurgence in popularly with young people, and delightfully so. There are some great skills associated with it, including communication and higher order thinking, though kids like it for the best reason of all: it’s fun. The Cornell camp, it perhaps goes without saying, is truly world-class, hosted on the stunning campus of a storied, ivy-leauge university. For the kids that attend it can be an eye opener in all sorts of ways, particularly through engaging with peers from around the world who all share some core academic aspirations. The surrounding community of Ithaca itself has a lot to offer, including the vibrant, delightfully quirky downtown and the gorges beyond. The camp, for some families, provides an opportunity to take a family summer trip, with the kids going to debate camp with the adults explore the area, including the nearby Corning Glass Museum, Watkins Glen, and the Finger Lakes. Certainly there’s a lot to love, the Cornell campus and staff foremost among them. The debate camps are, for those that attend, a window onto a wider world, with the university setting providing an important element of that.

Ithaca 0
  • Debate Camp Canada

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Debate Camp Canada

    our take

    Nick Szymanis founded Debate Camp Canada after having achieved a long and impressive career in private schooling. He held teaching and leadership positions at Havergal, Crofton House, and was director of academics at Sterling Hall. Director Oona Craig has a CV that is similarly impressive. In all, this is an academic camp that is placed very firmly on a foundation of academic experience and expertise. It’s not a traditional camp, of course, perhaps particularly because it’s not about providing a wide breadth of experiences, but rather an intensive focus on one: debating. That said, there is more breadth here than you might assume. Debate is a tool, like any camp activity, to get at other things, including confidence, resilience, skill development, and effective collaboration. The kids that attend find themselves in a group of peers that share their interests as well as their academic disposition, and many come away—as with any camp—with friends and memories for life.

Toronto 0
  • ESL Summer Camp at Pickering College

    Newmarket, Ontario

    Our Take: ESL Summer Camp at Pickering College

    our take

    Pickering College was founded as the West Lake Seminary by Quakers in 1842 and, as you might expect, has had a long and interesting history since. It began—remarkably for the time—as a co-ed school, and as such provided an expression of the Quaker ideal that both sexes should be educated equally. In that, and so many other ways, Pickering has truly charted its own course, though always with an eye to the international community. The campus is frankly gorgeous, with the full range of amenities, including extensive athletic facilities. It’s also ideally located to be able to offer a true camp experience—campfires and s’mores—as well as trips to some of Canada’s foremost cultural and historic landmarks. (The campus itself has some nice landmarks of its own, including paintings by Franics Johnston, a member of the Group of Seven, who also taught here. Rogers House, the main building on campus, was designed by John Lyle, who was also the architect for Toronto’s Union Station.) The ESL programs build off the expertise of the faculty. They are run all year, though the summer programs are dedicated to language learning while offering a fun, vibrant, collegial experience. Campers gain a sense of the school, as well as a sense of the country—for some, the summer programs serve as a means of experiencing the school with an eye to enrolling in the boarding program. Certainly, it can be a great entrée, allowing for an easier acclimation come September. For others, it's a unique opportunity to gain langauge skills from qualified, experienced instructors. 

Newmarket 0
  • Glen Bernard Camp

    Sundridge, Ontario

    Our Take: Glen Bernard Camp

    our take

    Glen Bernard was founded in 1922 with the intention of helping girls develop self-confidence and independence, and certainly it’s succeeded at that goal, and then some, ever since. One of the reasons is the leadership of Jocelyn Palm, who has owned and directed the camp since 1977. She’s a rock star in the world of camping, and rightly so. She’s impressive, and, frankly, inspiring. In 2014, she was asked by an interviewer why she had gone to the trouble of installing composting toilets and solar water heaters. She answered, “if I’m not prepared to be a role model and show kids the technologies that are going to make our environment sustainable, who’s going to do it?” She brings that spirit of leadership to the life of the camp, and passes it on to the campers who attend. Her advice to young people is to “set realistic goals and, once you’ve achieved them, set more.” In that regard, and indeed many others, Palm leads by example. The activities cluster around the camp traditions, though with an eye to the wider world, empathetic leadership, environmental stewardship, and interpersonal skills.

Sundridge 0
  • Harbourfront Centre Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Harbourfront Centre Camps

    our take

    Some camps are up north, in the bush, away from the all the hustle and bustle of the city, and one of the great strengths of the Harbourfront Centre programs is that it isn’t: it’s nearby, close to all of the resources of the city. Because of that, it offers a greater range of activity that you’ll find anywhere, including everything from theatre arts, to sports, to digital storytelling, and on and on. The staffing benefits from the proximity to the city, with instructors bringing a rich range of experience and expertise. Campers enroll within areas of interest, and in so doing enter a setting of peers who share that interest, an experience that in itself can be transformative. Most of the programs are day programs, though not all are—there are overnight options as well, including during the March break. There are PA day sessions as well. Now entering their fourth decade, the Harbourfront Centre programs are as established as any you’ll find anywhere, inclusive of a unique culture and approach to learning, doing, and having fun.

Toronto 0
  • Hatch Canada Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Hatch Canada Camp

    our take

    The Hatch camps were founded by Emmanuelle Deaton, who comes from a background teaching history and civics, and Peter Kuperman, who comes from a computer science background. Their experience can seem like opposite ends of the spectrum, though, even if they’ve taken different paths along the way, both are proponents of the creative aspect of coding, which, given the state of the tools available, is prodigious. “It’s entirely creative,” says Deaton, “and that’s the most beautiful thing there is in computer language: the promise of computer language is the promise of creativity. Children can imagine something that they want to create, and then they can do that. That’s really powerful for them.” It is, and the Hatch camps consistently demonstrate that. They are staffed by counsellors and instructors who bring that passion, as well as a clear desire and ability to work effectively with children. It’s a unique mix, to be sure, all of which adds to the strength and quality of the summer, weekend, and after-school programs.

Toronto 0
  • InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Grand River

    Brantford, Ontario

    Our Take: InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Grand River

    our take

    InterVarstiy Circle Square Ranch Grand River was founded in the 1970s as a program of Crossroads Christian Communications TV program, Circle Square. The popularity of the show created an initial interest in the camp programs, though in time the quality of the camps themselves were the draw independent of it. In 2011 Circle Square was bought by InterVarsity, becoming one of nine camps that organization runs across the country. Begun 1929, the InterVarsity camps contribute to the goal of creating unique opportunities to bring young people together around the personal challenges that a camp setting can provide. At camp kids unplug and turn their attention to the community they find there. The activities facilitate a greater understanding of campers’ talents and abilities, as well as the Christian values that inform the programming. The equestrian programs at Circle Square date back to the camp’s founding four decades ago; as strong as ever, they are a particular draw for many of the families that enrol here.

Brantford 0
  • InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Halkirk

    Halkirk, Alberta

    Our Take: InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Halkirk

    our take

    The Circle Square Ranch camps were founded in the 1970s as a program of Crossroads Christian Communications TV program, Circle Square. The popularity of the show created an initial interest in the camp programs, though in time the quality of the camps themselves were the draw independent of it. In 2011 Circle Square Ranch Halkirk was bought by InterVarsity, becoming one of nine camps that organization runs across the country. Begun 1929, the InterVarsity camps contribute to the goal of creating unique opportunities to bring young people together around the personal challenges that a camp setting can provide. At camp kids unplug and turn their attention to the community they find there. The activities facilitate a greater understanding of campers’ talents and abilities, as well as the Christian values that inform the programming. The equestrian programs at Circle Square date back to the camp’s founding four decades ago; as strong as ever, they are a particular draw, including the weekly rodeo event, for many of the families that enrol here.

Halkirk 0
  • InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Alberta

    Sundre, AB

    Our Take: InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Alberta

    our take

    Pioneer Camp Alberta is one of nine InterVarsity camps located across the country. The camping program was begun 1929, an expression of InterVarsity, an association of campus ministries intended to bring Christian values and awareness to young people, and support their spiritual and social growth. The camps were part of the initial vision, designed to create a unique opportunity to bring young people together around the unique challenges that a camp setting can provide. That remains perhaps more true today than ever. At camp they unplug, and turn their attention to the community they find there. The activities facilitate a greater understanding of campers’ talents and abilities, as well as the Christian values that inform the programming. The camp has grown over the years, adding new activities and facilities, all of it furthering the initial goals.

Sundre 0
  • InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Manitoba

    Winnipeg, Manitoba

    Our Take: InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Manitoba

    our take

    Pioneer Camp Manitoba is one of nine InterVarsity camps located across the country. The camping program was begun 1929, an expression of InterVarsity, an association of campus ministries intended to bring Christian values and awareness to young people, and support their spiritual and social growth. The camps were part of the initial vision, designed to create a unique opportunity to bring young people together around the unique challenges that a camp setting can provide. That remains perhaps more true today than ever. At camp they unplug, and turn their attention to the community they find there. The activities facilitate a greater understanding of campers’ talents and abilities, as well as the Christian values that inform the programming. The camp has grown over the years, adding new activities, facilities, and sessions, all of it furthering the initial goals.

Winnipeg 0
  • InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Ontario

    Port Sydney, Ontario

    Our Take: InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Ontario

    our take

    Ontario Pioneer Camp is one of nine InterVarsity camps located across the country. The camping program was begun 1929, an expression of InterVarsity, an association of campus ministries intended to bring Christian values and awareness to young people, and support their spiritual and social growth. The camps were part of the initial vision, designed to create a unique opportunity to bring young people together around the unique challenges that a camp setting can provide. That remains perhaps more true today than ever. At camp they unplug, and turn their attention to the community they find there. The activities facilitate a greater understanding of campers’ talents and abilities, as well as the Christian values that inform the programming. The camp has grown over the years, adding new activities, including family camp sessions, all of it furthering the initial goals.

Port Sydney 0
  • InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Pacific

    Vancouver, British Columbia

    Our Take: InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Pacific

    our take

    Pioneer Camp Pacific is one of nine InterVarsity camps located across the country. The camping program was begun 1929, an expression of InterVarsity, an association of campus ministries intended to bring Christian values and awareness to young people, and support their spiritual and social growth. The camps were part of the initial vision, designed to create a unique opportunity to bring young people together around the unique challenges that a camp setting can provide. That remains perhaps more true today than ever. At camp they unplug, and turn their attention to the community they find there. The activities facilitate a greater understanding of campers’ talents and abilities, as well as the Christian values that inform the programming. The camp has grown over the years, adding new activities and facilities, all of it furthering the initial goals.

Vancouver 0
  • Kandalore

    Algonquin Highlands, Ontario

    Our Take: Kandalore

    our take

    Founded more than 70 years ago, the Kandalore program is firmly based in the traditions of camping in Canada, as well as the traditions unique to the camp. All-camp campfires bookend the camper experience, including the Chapter Fire, a signature event held at the end of each month. There’s a lot of whimsy, too, such as the regatta, a day-long program held each session. Those things, and many more, contribute to a camp culture that is vibrant, active, inclusive, and fun. There are some very nice cross-generational programs, including Fairy Night, when senior girls dress up and visit the youngest campers to surprise them with a girls-only campfire. It’s as charming as it is affective. Leadership seeks to provide appropriate challenges, including canoe trips, as a cornerstone of the program, through which campers can build confidence in themselves and in their ability to work with others toward a common goal. 

Algonquin Highlands 0
  • Kortright Summer Nature Day Camp

    Woodbridge, Ontario

    Our Take: Kortright Summer Nature Day Camp

    our take

    The Kortright Centre is named after author and conservationist Francis H. Kortright, an early proponent of environmental awareness, stewardship, and sustainability. Those are some very big, important ideas, and since it opened in 1982, the centre has dedicated itself to addressing them. Administration has also dedicated itself to bringing those concepts to a wider audience, and doing it in creative, age-appropriate ways. The summer programs are perhaps the prime example of that—they are based in all the big ideas, but kids see them more as fun than learning, which is exactly as it should be. Mud Madness sessions, for example, don’t announce themselves unduly as educative, and the same is true of the spy camp session. Nevertheless, in those as in all the others, kids come away having had a lasting, memorable, and fun engagement with the natural world, having also built an appreciation of nature and our place within it. It’s impressive, to be sure, and there is nothing quite like the Kortright Centre. Of less importance to kids is the infrastructure and the architecture, which is delightful in a way all its own. Staff are truly experts, engaged in their own ongoing work at the centre, including offering exceptional instruction and mentorship.

Woodbridge 0
  • Lakefield Camp International

    Lakefield, Ontario

    Our Take: Lakefield Camp International

    our take

    Lakefield is one of the foremost boarding schools in Canada, with a reputation for delivering a quality academic program that is based in the values of cooperation, creativity, leadership and resiliency. The campus, even during the academic year, has the feel of a camp, given that its 315 acres includes lake access and extensive outdoor education facilities, including a world-class ropes course, a multi-purpose waterfront, and a wealth of green space. To say that the school is well situated to offer a strong summer program is an understatement. The camp, as the name implies, draws campers from around the world, as it has done since it was begun in 1985. ESL courses are available, and they are both strong and intensive, though the immersion experience is important too. That said, there are other programs as well that are equally strong, including leadership. The school is host to other summer programs in addition to the international camp, including the Leahy Music Camp and the Lakefield Literary Festival, which afford an interaction with others and an authentic engagement with the school’s local culture. The campus is a hive of interesting activity throughout the summer season, something which adds a nice sense of community to all of the programs hosted here, the international camp prime among them.

Lakefield 0
  • Lovell International Camps

    Schönried, ---------------

    Our Take: Lovell International Camps

    our take

    Some camps are truly one of a kind, and Lovell is absolutely in that class. Lovell International Camps was founded in Switzerland by two Canadians steeped in the Canadian camping tradition—William and Sandra Lovell—and who transplanted it to the Swiss Alps. Today the camp welcomes campers from around the world, and in many senses, it really is a traditional, Canadian summer camp in that a range of activities is offered, including swimming, outdoor education, and leadership training. Where it differs, apart from the locale, is in offering a truly international experience, as well as opportunities for enrichment, as with language lessons and partial immersion. Bryce Lovell, son of the founders, is the director, adding a nice conceptual continuity to the program. Winter and summer sessions are available. In Switzerland. It may not be for everyone, but is very appealing to very many, and is a great experience for all.

Schönried 0
  • Mad Science of Toronto

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Mad Science of Toronto

    our take

    Mad Science has been offering day and after-school programs for nearly three decades, and in that time has grown to include programming across southern Ontario and around the world. They’ve also become an industry leader in providing fun, substantial learning experiences to groups of young people. The core belief is that kids learn best when engaging with others in hands-on activities, something that is consistently borne out by the Mad Science programs. The activies are built with the ages, stages, and outcomes of the provincial science curriculum. So, while kids for the most part aren’t aware of it, they are extending an interest in the core outcomes. It’s telling that the Toronto District School Board has approved Mad Science as an official partner, another demonstration of the sound academic basis for the sessions. But, fun is important, too, as is sating curiosities, which is perhaps what Mad Science does best. Locations dot the GTA, making the programs easily accessible.

Toronto 0
  • McGill Conservatory Day Camp

    montreal, Quebec

    Our Take: McGill Conservatory Day Camp

    our take

    Held on the campus of McGill University, the resources available are understandably top notch. Home to professional grade studios and performance spaces, the camp sessions rightly make great use of all of it. The staff is seasoned—the camp is into its third decade of operation—which is a definite plus. They also bring a level of expertise that is a specific draw for many families and campers. There is a sense of participating in something bigger, and for many campers, the sessions are a first opportunity to really get their passions out into the air, and in front of peers and mentors who share them, and can truly appreciate the level of talent being expressed. For many kids, this is an opportunity to build skills and connections, which is great. But for many others, it’s a chance to get their feet wet, and to experience something new, especially within the Mix It Up sessions.

montreal 0
  • McMichael Children and Youth Art Camps and Programs

    Kleinburg, Ontario

    Our Take: McMichael Children and Youth Art Camps and Programs

    our take

    The McMichael facility is, frankly, as much of a national treasure as the art that it houses. You really can’t praise it enough—it’s truly a jewel in the crown of Canadian arts. In addition to year round programs, the summer sessions, in particular, unabashedly get kids involved up to their elbows in art, from creation to appreciation. The sessions are active, though created to really promote the work and the collections to kids on their level, inspiring them to better appreciate their talents as well as the talents of those around them. The experience of being at the collection, too, creates a sense of ownership for the works collected there. The gallery intentionally blurs the line between art and environment, and the camps seek to extend that, getting kids out into the world, and to see how that world is reflected in the work of some of the country’s greatest artists. These camps are not just art classes or art appreciation workshops, they are vibrant, well-led programs allowing kids to have fun while interacting with others around the arts.

Kleinburg 0
  • Me to We Take Action Camp

    Bethany, Ontario

    Our Take: Me to We Take Action Camp

    our take

    The Me to We program was begun to promote social activism, particularly around global humanitarian issues. That said, as the name and the programs predicate, the beginning point is allowing youth to learn how they, quite literally, can change the world through adopting leadership roles within their communities and beyond. The Me to We Take Action Camps are based in Canada and hosted in two locations in Ontario and one in Arizona. They are, in every way, an expression of the values and the goals of the larger Me to We organization. At the camps, kids have an opportunity to come together to spend a week with like-minded peers in order to grow their sense of agency as well their leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. The camps are fun, to be sure, but they’re also presented as a beginning, in a sense, of what the kids will then do in their communities and beyond. For many, the experience can be a transformative one, and certainly, that’s the goal that serves as a foundation for the camps.

Bethany 0
  • Medeba Summer Camp

    West Guilford, Ontario

    Our Take: Medeba Summer Camp

    our take

    Medeba was founded in 1952 in order to provide a traditional camp experience, one where campers can enter a community of peers who share an engagement within the Christian faith, fostering spiritual growth. The programs are based in the traditions of camping, though have been updated over the years, including the development of rock climbing and mountain biking programs. Additional sessions to the summer camp extend the programming into the shoulder seasons; attention has also been given to the various age groups, with clear, sound programs developed for the various ages and stages. The focus of the camp is on inclusion and personal development, and all the activities have been carefully added and maintained in order to further those core goals

West Guilford 0
  • Mi-A-Kon-Da

    Dunchurch, Ontario

    Our Take: Mi-A-Kon-Da

    our take

    One of the greatest advertisements for Mi-A-Kon-Da is undoubtedly Pam Lamont, who as directed the camp for nearly three decades. She’s personable, spirited, and given to saying things like this: “I believe sincerely in the educational, social and recreational values of camping. Camp provides an ideal environment for a young woman to grow and mature feeling valued, confident, and capable.” All of the activities at Mi-A-Kon-Da point to that overriding goal. The site, itself, is as remarkable and it is unique: it’s situated on its own island and surrounded by crown land. Arriving on site is like stepping into a painting by Tom Thompson, a world away from the bustle of city life. The programming clusters around traditional camp activities, and new programs are added only when they are sympathetic to the culture and goals of the camp. When rowing was introduced, for example, Lamont was careful to ensure that the focus was on the experience of working together as a team, and having a new experience, rather than competition. “I said I don’t want this activity to be about levels. I just want it to be an experience. If they want to pursue it in a competitive way, they may … a lot of the girls who do our dance program, they do it just for fun. And that’s great.” It is. Every camp is unique, though Mi-A-Kon-Da, in particular, proves that point.

Dunchurch 0
  • Mooredale Day Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Mooredale Day Camp

    our take

    Location is important, to be sure, and Mooredale is a great example of that. Hosted in a charming community centre in the heart of leafy Rosedale, there is a sense of calm and community here that you may not necessarily expect of a location so close to the heart of Canada’s largest metropolis. It’s charming, with lovely outdoor play spaces, heated pool, as well as indoor facilities that give a sense of the lived history and heritage of the neighbourhood. There is a real sense of camp here, too, augmented by the tennis club and the nearby ravines and green spaces, which the counsellors make good use of, as they do of the resources further afield, through day trips to downtown locations, Kelso Conservation Area, and elsewhere. Great location, experienced staff, and a lovely feel—for those interested in a quiet, kid-oriented, kid-paced camp close by, Mooredale has a lot to offer.

Toronto 0
  • Niagara Christian Collegiate

    Fort Erie, Ontario

    Our Take: Niagara Christian Collegiate

    our take

    The Niagara Parkway—the route through which Niagara Christian Collegiate is accessed—is a sleepy, scenic drive along the eastern edge of the Niagara Peninsula. The campus, for anyone driving by, can seem sympathetically sleepy, a world away from the hustle of urban life. Which, to some extent, it is. What you don’t see—and perhaps what even locals don’t accurately grasp—is the diversity of the programs and the breath of facilities here, especially demonstrated during the summer season. There are ESL sessions, offering intensive instruction and immersion, while the location offers a unique perspective on North American life. The campus looks onto the Niagara River and the United States on the other side. There’s a lot of history here, including the centuries-old forts that dot either side of the border, as well as the natural heritage, including Niagara Falls and the Niagara Escarpment just a short drive away. All of those assets, as well as proximity to international transportation hubs in Toronto and Buffalo, NY, make the camp accessible to campers from around the world. As such, for campers arriving locally, the experience is can be remarkably international. In addition to the ESL sessions, NCC also offers academic, adventure, and equestrian programs.  

Fort Erie 0
  • Olympia Sports Camp

    Huntsville, Ontario

    Our Take: Olympia Sports Camp

    our take

    All sports camps seek to develop skills, and competition can, understandably, seem like a natural aspect of that process. Olympia, too, is certainly about skill development, though leadership navigates the competitive aspect particularly well—not shying from it, but placing it within a context of personal goals and goal setting. “It’s not about getting to the top of the climbing tower,” says Nicole Nicole Christamtsis, “it’s about getting higher than you did the day before. That’s an important lesson.” It is, and one that Olympia is very adept at delivering. Many campers are true keeners, arriving at camp with some very sport specific goals, and intending to build upon their prior expertise. That said, not all do, and there is a place for them here, too. For many campers, Olympia is an opportunity to try new things as much as it is building on existing skills. The programs are vast, with facilities to match, and the instructors bring professional coaching to all of them. The focus throughout is on building confidence, independence, interpersonal skills, encouraging campers to meet new people and try new things. The experience is challenging and active, in equal measure to recognition and reward.

Huntsville 0
  • Onondaga Camp

    Minden, Ontario

    Our Take: Onondaga Camp

    our take

    Onondaga is one of the oldest camps in the country, having recently celebrated its centenary. It was established by Keith Crowther, a staff member of Upper Canada College, and was moved to its current site in 1931, and it’s been co-ed since 1975. There’s a lot of history, and the current owners, all past campers, bought the camp in 1992 and have since developed the property, including a new dining hall completed in 2004. While the site may not show its age in the way that other camps might, the program continues to reflect the ideals that were established with the founding of the camp all those years ago. Traditional activities have been augmented over the years, including high ropes, wakeboarding, and a driving range for golf instruction. The breadth of programming is a draw, both for campers looking to further develop their skills, as well as those interested in trying new things. The board of directors includes three past directors, which, in addition to Duncan Robertson’s 25 years at Onondaga, offers a nice continuity to the maintenance and development of the camp experience.

Minden 0
  • Ontario Science Centre Camp

    North York, Ontario

    Our Take: Ontario Science Centre Camp

    our take

    The experience of arriving each morning at the Ontario Science Centre itself can be inspiring, and doubly so for young people with an interest in space, science, or technology. The environment has a bustle to it, and certainly, there’s a lot going on. It’s also one of the foremost science interpretive institutions in the country, with a range of resources that are unmatched, and all of it created with a young person’s gaze foremost in mind. The goal of the institution is to inspire a curiosity and an engagement with science, and they achieve that in spades. The camps extend the expertise of the staff, and the half-day sessions are a particular example of that. They allow young people to wade in, testing the waters as it were. They and the full-day sessions are creatively programmed—it would probably be enough to just let the kids experience the exhibits and the collections, or park them in the IMAX theatre, but the staff has larger intentions, as demonstrated by the themes that they build the various sessions and programs around. Kids come away having had an unique experience of the centre, available only through these sessions, and having gained an expanded sense of their talents, skills, and abilities. Sharing time with peers of like minds, like interests, and like academic goals is also one of the reasons families enroll here, and why they come back each summer. The PA day and holiday sessions allow kids a chance to dip back into that environment at intervals outside of the summer season, reconnecting with familiar faces within a familiar setting. 

North York 0
  • Outward Bound Canada

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Outward Bound Canada

    our take

    Outward Bound was an early adopter/promoter of some of the things that are very much in the air today, namely providing young people with an opportunity to grow leadership skills, resilience, and grit. Getting people out of their comfort zones has been the operating principle since it was founded in 1969, though the basis in the values of ecological stewardship has also been a key component. The programs offered, included these summer sessions for young people, are well within the category of lifetime experiences: each is unforgettable, both for the sense that participants gain of the geography of Canada, and the sense that they gain of the geography of their skills, abilities, and capabilities. It’s not an understatement to say that these programs can be life changing, as they often are in a whole range of positive ways. For kids bumping up against the boundaries of their school and social environments, and Outward Bound trip can provide a welcome opportunity to spread their wings in significant, meaningful ways, all within a safe and supportive setting, guided by experienced, expert instructors. 

Toronto 0
  • Power of Words Academy

    North York, Ontario

    Our Take: Power of Words Academy

    our take

    As workplaces become more collaborative, the ability to clearly express ideas is, perhaps more than ever before, a core skill across all areas of interest. No matter how good an idea is, if it can’t be expressed effectively, it risks being lost in the shuffle of a very busy world. Likewise, the old saw is as true now as it ever was: great stories happen to those who can tell them. That’s the point where Power of Words begins, namely that student success is tied to effective written and verbal communication. It’s also about finding a bit of joy in there as well—debate is a growing area of interest in the public and private school sectors, not only because it’s important, but also because it’s fun. Power of Words offers afterschool and weekend sessions throughout the year to give students a chance to grow their skills in a supportive, dedicated environment. In addition, the summer sessions offer opportunities to drill down on debate and language skills, offering some variety to the season’s activities while also helping with the summer lull in academic work. While some programs aim at the high school level, the Power of Words session allow younger students to get their feet wet, which is a draw for many of the families that enroll.

North York 0
  • Ridley College Summer Programmes

    St. Catharines, Ontario

    Our Take: Ridley College Summer Programmes

    our take

    The Ridley summer programs are robust and well attended. More than 1800 enrol each summer, so in a sense the camps have a population that doubles and then some the student population on campus during the school year. The reason they are so popular is because they are so well run. The symphony sessions—there’s one for young musicians who compete for spots, another for tyros—are staffed by members of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra. They’re the only true symphony camps of their kind in the country. Other offerings range across a fairly wide swath of interest, including those that appeal to international students, to those programmed with local kids in mind. It’s a great mix, and even though kids are in different sessions, many of them are run consecutively, allowing a nice interaction between young people of like interest as with as those with divergent interest. The campus is frankly gorgeous, with a wealth of green space. The facilities, too, are top-notch, including outdoor ed equipment, two professional-level performing arts spaces, and a wealth of resources. The camps make extensive use of all of it. The ESL camps are some of the best in the region and beyond. The attraction is multi-faceted, and the proximity to Niagara Falls and Toronto are included within that. The ESL sessions provide international students with a strong camp experience, a residence with peers from around the world, and an intensive language immersion and instruction. In those, and across the summer programs, there’s a lot to love.

St. Catharines 0
  • Royal Ontario Museum Summer Club

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Royal Ontario Museum Summer Club

    our take

    At the risk of stating the obvious, the resources available at the ROM are varied, vast, and unequalled, and the summer programs make the most of all of it. Like the museum collections, the summer sessions are based in social and natural history, with each session based around a certain theme. Simply attention the museum for a week is, for many kids, a thrill in and of itself. Developing a relationship with docents only furthers that; campers feel that they have a unique access to the staff and the collections, and, frankly, they do. The summer programs have been running for more than 75 years, and while it’s less obvious in the day-to-day, there’s a tradition here as well, one of growing an interest in the world around us, and building an engagement with others based in a specific set of curiosities. The camps are very professionally presented, with programs run by expert, experienced staff. Any way you care to cut it, there’s a lot to love.

Toronto 0
  • Stratford Festival

    Stratford, Ontario

    Our Take: Stratford Festival

    our take

    Canadians are famously modest, and that’s not always a good thing. We think of things as “good for here” but the Stratford Festival is truly great for anywhere: a world-renowned theatre, operating at the very top of its class. Christopher Plummer literally has a room with his name on it at a local hotel, and he’s made a lot of use of that room over the years. The big names come because of the quality of the theatre, its direction, and its reputation. And, for all the same reasons, kids come from throughout North America to attend the summer sessions at Stratford. There they bump elbows with the greats, and they learn from professionals, in a professional setting, with other kids of like minds, talents, and goals. There are a wealth of resources at the festival, and the camp sessions make use of all of it: spaces, costuming, props, expertise. It’s not just like being part of Stratford, for the duration of their time there, campers truly are part of Stratford. For kids interested in following their acting and production muse, sessions here can be as inspiring as they are life-changing.

Stratford 0
  • Swallowdale Camp

    Rosseau, Ontario

    Our Take: Swallowdale Camp

    our take

    Swallowdale began its life in 1943, and moved to its current location, in the heart of Muskoka, in 2017. The leadership has remained in the Walbank family, though since 1996 operations have been overseen by Canadian International Student Services (CISS), something that makes the program essentially one of a kind. Campers arrive each summer from around the world, providing all of them—including those who arrive domestically—an international experience. The programming is traditional, as is the setting, though includes supports, such as ESL instruction, for those arriving from overseas. The international feel, and exposure to peers from around the world, is one of the strengths of the Swallowdale environment, and for many families is a principal draw. The focus of the programming is on providing fun while building leadership, interpersonal skills, and self awareness.

Rosseau 0
  • Sylvan Learning Burlington

    Burlington, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning Burlington

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Burlington 0
  • Sylvan Learning Centre Brantford

    Brantford, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning Centre Brantford

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Brantford 0
  • Sylvan Learning Guelph

    Guelph, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning Guelph

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Guelph 0
  • Sylvan Learning Hamilton

    Hamilton, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning Hamilton

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Hamilton 0
  • Sylvan Learning London

    London, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning London

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

London 0
  • Sylvan Learning Oakville

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning Oakville

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Oakville 0
  • Sylvan Learning Ottawa

    Ottawa, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning Ottawa

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Ottawa 0
  • Sylvan Learning South Mississauga

    Mississauga, ON

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning South Mississauga

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Mississauga 0
  • Sylvan Learning Thornhill

    Thornhill, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning Thornhill

    our take

    Sylvan Learning Centres were founded in 1979, and the company has grown to include locations throughout North America. Sylvan’s reputation has grown as well, principally through the visibility of the locations and their association with effective academic tutoring. Still, there is more to Sylvan than perhaps most people may know, and the seasonal camps and programs are included in that. Yes, the focus can look somewhat academic at first glance—engineering, STEM, robotics, coding—though the feel of the camps is less formal, less academic, and more geared to gather children around topics and activities that they are passionate about, in addition to having fun. They will learn a lot, no doubt, though often the empowerment that the camps can bring is, for many families and kids, their principal value, and the thing that keeps them coming back year after year.

Thornhill 0
  • The Dalton School Camps and Programs

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: The Dalton School Camps and Programs

    our take

    Dalton is a dual language school—Mandarin and English—and its year-round programs, as well as the camp sessions in the summer, extend the work of the school. All students are welcome, whether enroled at Dalton or elsewhere, though the programs are perhaps a particular draw for families of the school. The summer, especially for kids in intensive immersion programs, can result in a bit of a step back; a summer program can support the learning that they’ve done, and deliver them back in September in good shape. For others, the programs are built around the core programs of the school and the expertise of the staff. It’s fun—camp is supposed to be, after all—but with a strong basis in academics. That said, Dalton does a good job of bringing the fun forward, so that campers are really only aware of the fun. For example, Lego sessions are built around STEM; a session offered re cooking with chocolate is built to promote concepts of health and nutrition. All sessions share that spirit of engagement and learning. In all, it’s a nice blend of activity and development.

Toronto 0
  • The Gow School Summer Program

    South Wales, New York(USA)

    Our Take: The Gow School Summer Program

    our take

    Peter Gow founded the Gow School in the 1920s to serve students who, for a range of reasons, weren’t finding success elsewhere. Gow believed that small class sizes and an open mind, when it comes to instruction, can make all the difference, especially for those who are at risk of falling through the cracks of a traditional approach to academics. The students at the top of his mind were those with some form of linguistic disruption—students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia or issues with central auditory processing. The program has changed over the years, though the spirit of investigation, of finding better ways to support learners, remains. The summer programs extend all of that work, allowing campers to experience a supportive learning and play environment surrounded by true peers and a staff that truly understands them. That in itself can be transformational. The summer is for fun, so while there is some learning, it’s meant to help with the summer academic dip, helping to deliver students back to class in September ready to learn. But, yes, fun and activity is a primary goal, and the summer sessions bring that, too.

South Wales 0
  • The Taylor Statten Camps

    Algonquin Park, Ontario

    Our Take: The Taylor Statten Camps

    our take

    The traditions we associate with residential summer camp—the values, the activities, the aesthetics—are in many respects due to the work of one man: Taylor Statten. Returning home from the Boer War, Statten joined the YMCA in 1902 and soon became the national Boy’s Work Secretary, a position that included the directorship of Camp Couchiching in Orillia, ON. He also established the Canadian Standards Efficiency Training program, a series of graded activity levels intended to give children the opportunity and incentive to develop intellectual, social, and physical skills.

    What made Statten’s programs unique was the focus that he brought to them. In place of the regimented, sum-is-better-than-its-parts approach of scouting and cadets, Statten built programs around the individual, seeking to develop each child’s potential and to celebrate their individual strengths. Camping in Statten’s hands was about expression, independence, and an appreciation of the diversity inherent in any group. Adventure and resourcefulness were important, but so was imagination, identity, and a close appreciation the natural environment.

    In 1916, Statten put his ideas into practice by founding Camp Ahmek, a camp for boys set within the boundaries of Algonquin park. The centerpiece of the camp, then as now, was the stone fireplace in the main hall, one that Tom Thomson helped build, hauling sand for the mortar that would bind the stones. Pierre Trudeau would sit before that fireplace as a camper, as did all three of his sons. Justin Trudeau, in speaking of camp, described his experience, giving what is, effectively, a précis of Statten’s initial vision: “[camp] had an immeasurable impact on my family and me. For my father, my brothers and I, being campers and counsellors at Ahmek taught us much about nature, about responsibility, and, most importantly, about ourselves.”

    Wapomeo, a sister camp to Ahmek, followed in 1924 and, taken together, the two camps provided a model for many, many camps to come that, in turn, reflected the organization and the values that Ahmek and Wapomeo had demonstrated.

    It’s quite a story, in every way, and one that continues today. These two camps provide a definition of the culture of camping in Canada, and that’s because they provided a model for so many of them, as well as the great work they continue to do.

Algonquin Park 0
  • Thornhill Park Tennis Club

    Thornhill, Ontario

    Our Take: Thornhill Park Tennis Club

    our take

    The Thornhill Park Tennis Club was founded in 1951, and ever since has been one of the premier clubs in the area. For campers, it’s not only an opportunity to improve their skills through intensive training from instructors at both provincial and national levels, but also an entry point to the broader tennis culture of the GTA. It’s true that playing better opponents can improve your game, and for many kids, the camps are a first opportunity to play with coaches and peers who have a like interest and skill level. The summer sessions include swimming, making for an active, enjoyable day. The two locations, too, are a plus, allowing access for a wider catchment area.

Thornhill 0
  • TIFF Camps & Workshops

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: TIFF Camps & Workshops

    our take

    This is the kind of camp that parents wish they had when they were kids. Truly, it’s a bit like a dream come true: kids spend time with film industry professionals, engaging with their passion for the technical and/or storytelling aspects of the medium, along with peers who share that passion. Hosted in the Bell Lightbox, it’s like stepping back stage of an internationally recognized film festival because, well, that’s exactly what it is. Kids come away having had a unique experience, gaining confidence in their creative and social abilities. They also gain a sense of participation within one of the cultural cornerstones of the city. Any way you slice it, there’s a lot to love. It’s not for everyone, but if a child even has just an inkling of an interest in film, this is the place to indulge it.

Toronto 0
  • Toronto Kidz

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Toronto Kidz

    our take

    Brigitte Gallegos, founder and director of Toronto Kidz Summer Camp created the camp to make the most of what the city has to offer. She wanted to allow kids to explore areas of their city, and to let experience the full range of what it has to offer. The programs—a series of weekly day camp sessions offered throughout the summer months—have been designed to access those possibilities. Each session is built around a specific theme, and the entire city is a programming resource: Pirates Week includes a cruise around Centre Island; Animals and Nature Week includes a trip to High Park Nature Centre; Pokémon Week includes a visit to Fort York. It is run out of a space within the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, just north of High Park and in the heart of one of the city’s most varied urban communities. The location, in any way you care to look at it, has a lot to offer. There are private green spaces and a wealth of indoor activity space, all of it providing a welcome break from the bustle of the city. Each day at camp includes crafts and drawing, and stimulation with music and dance. The course of each day includes all of that, from running games in the park, to sitting quietly to record the day’s events in a journal.

Toronto 0
  • True North Sports Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: True North Sports Camps

    our take

    If you’ve ever attended one of the Our Kids camp expos, you’ll have seen a clot of kids gathered constantly around the True North booth. There’s a great reason for that: True North was founded by young people for young people to have a lot of fun with young people. Kids, rightly, love it, and the reason is the vibrancy and expertise of the counsellors that run the various programs. There is method to any madness, and skill building, including team skills and sports specific practice are top priorities. But, it’s a credit to the camp that it’s the joy of involvement with others that has become the hallmark of True North. There’s nothing quite like it, as any of those kids crowding the expo booth will tell you, if you’re able to get their attention.

Toronto 0
  • UCC Summer Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: UCC Summer Camps

    our take

    The UCC Summer Camps have been offered for more than four decades, and the strength of the programming is a product of that pedigree. We readily think of tradition when considering overnight camps, though perhaps are less inclined to when thinking of day camps. UCC, however, is a great example of development over time, including generations of staffing, hiring alumni of the program. One of the strengths of the UCC camps is undoubtedly the exceptional infrastructure of the school. To say that it’s unequalled, in terms of physical resource, is an understatement. Drama programs have the use of a professional grade stage; field sports have professional grade facilities; and on it goes. The growth in the programming—as with debate, coding, robotics—is in response to the needs of the families that attend, and they are intended to build skills as well as to allow children to work within groups of shared interest, passion, and ability.

Toronto 0
  • UCC Summer Life

    Toronto , Ontario

    Our Take: UCC Summer Life

    our take

    The UCC Summer Camps have been offered for more than four decades, and the strength of the programming is a product of that pedigree. One of the strengths of the UCC camps is undoubtedly the exceptional infrastructure of the school. To say that it’s unequalled, in terms of physical resource, is an understatement. A new addition is the Summer Life program, one intended for international students as an opportunity to build their English language skills. Students stay in residence with others from around the world. Programing takes advantage of the offerings and leadership of the day camps, the city, and the vast range of facilities on campus. While the Summer Life program is new, is nevertheless is built on the expertise at the school as well as the expertise and staffing of the day camp programs. We readily think of tradition when considering overnight camps, though perhaps are less inclined to when thinking of day camps. UCC, however, is a great example of development over time, including generations of staffing, often hiring alumni of the program. The Summer Life sessions are built upon that foundation. 

Toronto 0
  • University of King's College

    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Our Take: University of King's College

    our take

    King’s College is the oldest university in Canada, and the first English-speaking university in the commonwealth outside of the UK. Founded in 1789, it has understandably acted as something of a touchstone for academic life, and indeed has provided leadership in that regard. The summer programs provide a unique opportunity for young people to experience the campus, and to find a home there. The day camp makes use of the world-class campus facilities, offering a range of activities. Humanities for Young People, a residential program for kids 15-17, is a defining feature of the summer season. It attracts students from across the country to engage with peers and faculty in topics in the humanities. For many participants it’s a chance to dip a toe into the realities and the pleasures of university life. For all, it’s a chance to engage meaningfully with topics of importance to them and to the world. Each summer program is based in a theme chosen for that year. The 2018 theme is migration, with students looking at human migration in the past and present, and how migration has shaped the country. Participants take a lot away from these sessions, foremost among them the inspiration to push themselves further, and with a greater sense of not only what they want to study after high school, but also a greater understanding of what they personally can bring to it. There isn’t a wealth of programs like this one, which is why so many students turn to Kings.

Halifax 0
  • UTS: Experience Innovation

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: UTS: Experience Innovation

    our take

    UTS is remarkable for all kinds of reasons, including an alumni that boasts two Nobel Laureates, twenty Rhodes Scholars, eleven Olympians, and three ambassadors. In the century since it was founded, UTS weathered some interesting times, including student protests in the 1960s. (At one point a student presented the headmaster with a blank sheet of paper saying "this is a list of our demands.") For many years, the school was at the centre of the debates that would, in time, bring some important advances to public schooling in Canada, including the abolition of matriculation exams and a 4-year secondary school program. In that and in so much else, UTS has marched to the beat of its own drummer, charting an innovative path through everything it has done. That’s true of the summer programs as well. They are of a kind that only UTS could supply. The sessions are unique, and uniquely inspiring, and lead by experienced school faculty. Kids who take part will find themselves in a group of peers who share their perspectives, their curiosities, and in many cases, their academic inclinations. That’s a lot. And it’s fun, too, all taking place in the heart of the country’s most diverse metropolis, and within one of the country's foremost academic institutions. 

Toronto 0
  • Waldorf Summer Camp

    Thornhill, Ontario

    Our Take: Waldorf Summer Camp

    our take

    The Toronto Waldorf School, since it was founded, has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the core Waldorf methods and values: active learning, process over product, and cross-curricular, collaborative learning. Families that enroll typically are also attracted by an overt attention to ethics, environmental stewardship, interpersonal values, and the encouragement of individual expression. The summer programs extend all of that, within an extensive facility that includes a wealth of green space, whcih is made great of use of through regular interaction in nature. Sessions focus on relationship building, creativity, and play, allowing kids a nice opportunity to get away from the screens, among much else. For many it's a welcome to relax, to take part within a different context, and with a different set of priorities, than they typically expeirence within the course of their daily lives. 

Thornhill 0
  • Wilvaken

    Magog, Quebec

    Our Take: Wilvaken

    our take

    Located in the Eastern Townships, Wilvaken offers a close-knit, traditional camp experience. Now directed by Lara Willis, the third generation of her family to head up the camp, it has had a long and very consistent leadership that remains true to the initial goals for the facility. When you arrive you feel that you’ve entered an ordered, welcoming, and safe environment, and indeed you have. Families are drawn to that, as well as the values that form the basis of the program. The camp maintains a bilingual environment, which is a draw as well, allowing campers to continue their language learning while experiencing different cultures. Days are active, and evenings quiet, calm, and centered around friendship, fellowship, and the core traditions of the camp, including a candle-lit walk on the second to final night of each session. It's fun, with all the skill-building and exercise that you should expect, though there's a bit of magic here, too.

Magog 0
  • YMCA Camp Pine Crest

    Torrance, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA Camp Pine Crest

    our take

    It’s been operating continually for more than a century, making Pine Crest one of the oldest continuous youth programs in North America. The YMCA has many camps, of course, and has also played a considerable role in developing what camp is and what it can do. Many of the kinds of programs that we associate with summer camp were developed in Y settings, so Pine Crest has a pedigree that goes well beyond its age. The program remains very traditional, and tripping is an important part of what the camp offers. The activities are based around growing skills as much as they are confidence, esteem, and cooperation. The staff is dedicated, and largely made up of people who themselves have grown up within the Y camping programs, either at Pine Crest or elsewhere. The setting is pretty much as good as it gets, nestled in Muskoka, an area rightly celebrated for its natural beauty. It’s gorgeous. Leadership programs for youth 13 to 16 are a particular draw.

Torrance 0
  • YMCA Wanakita

    Haliburton, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA Wanakita

    our take

    Wanakita is one of the camps in Canada that others look to when growing or innovating their programs. It has a very traditional feel, with all the traditional activities on offer. The addition of a summer long family camp was conspicuous when it was begun over a decade ago, though has become the model for many others throughout North America. Wanakita has grown over the years, with the last significant acquisition perhaps being that of the Haliburton Hockey Haven, which doubled the program areas at a stroke. The family camp and resident camp programs are separated, and, for the most part, never the twain shall meet, and there are benefits to that, not the least being separate dining halls. Wanakita has an impressive tradition of leadership as well, with many of its alumni having moved on to prominent roles, nationally, both in the Y and in camping. Some traditions aren’t retained in the ways that some would like—the culture of singing, for one, isn’t what it once was—though it’s a testament to the ongoing quality of the camp that every generation of camper is as covetous of how the camp was when they were there. As ever, Wanakita remains a vibrant camp environment, one in which values are as important as activities.

Haliburton 0
  • YMCA Wanakita Family Camps

    Haliburton, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA Wanakita Family Camps

    our take

    Wanakita is one of the camps in Canada that others look to when growing or innovating their programs. It has a very traditional feel, with all the traditional activities on offer. The addition of a summer long family camp was conspicuous when it was begun over a decade ago, though has become the model for many others throughout North America. Wanakita has grown over the years, with the last significant acquisition perhaps being that of the Haliburton Hockey Haven, which doubled the program areas at a stroke. The family camp and resident camp programs are separated, and, for the most part, never the twain shall meet, and there are benefits to that, not the least being separate dining halls. Wanakita has an impressive tradition of leadership as well, with many of its alumni having moved on to prominent roles, nationally, both in the Y and in camping.

Haliburton 0
  • York University Lions Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: York University Lions Camps

    our take

    The focus of the Lions camps is less about drilling down than it is building out, allowing campers opportunites to experience a wide range of athletic activity, from field sports to martial arts. The intent is to bring young people together around a range of inclusive wellness activity, to challenge them a bit, and to build their confidence and resilience at the same time. The staff is sympathetic to all of that, made up of youth leaders from the York student community. That, too, is a plus, offering campers an opportunity to gain a first-hand sense of what empathetic leadership and mentorship looks like, as modeled by counsellors that have distinguished themselves in exactly that. It’s telling that some of the activities are fanciful, such as Quidditch, pirate training, and superhero training—they are fun, and less about skills and more about the shared experience. There are some intensive sessions, such as strength and conditioning for teens, but the even there, the goals include a meaningful engagement with others around some shared challenges, shared laughs, and everything in between. The facilities, it goes without saying, are excellent, all based within the York campus.

Toronto 0
  • York University; Science Engagement

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: York University; Science Engagement

    our take

    In his memoir “Uncle Tungsten,” the late Oliver Sacks wrote at length about his boyhood chemistry experiments, cloistered away in an attic, exploring a world that, in a range of ways, captured his intellect and his passion. The one thing that it wasn’t, however, was social. Like so many of the science stories of the past—Galileo, Tesla, Newton, and on and on—an interest in science meant working alone. Happily, with the growth of STEM programs, we’re getting beyond that. More than ever, science is collaborative, socially engaging, and fun, all things that the York programs have long sought to bring forward. The sessions engage with the outcomes of the provincial curriculum, and build off what the campers are learning during the school year. But the sessions also extend that  in a range of meaningful ways, through hands-on, cooperative learning. Students work within a professional setting, lead by student leaders that themselves are working in those fields throughout the year. All of that can be transformative to a young person’s love of science and their place within it, and in growing an ability to collaborate creatively with others around a unique set of problems. The facilities, as you’d expect, are exceptional—a majority of the sessions take place within Faculty of Science at the Keele Campus of York University—as is the organization of the programs and sessions. For some campers, it's an introduction to university life, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better one.

Toronto 0

More reviews coming soon