“It’s such a great city for kids,” says Brigitte Gallegos, founder and director of Toronto Kidz Summer Camp. Certainly, she created the camp for precisely that reason: to make the most of what the city has to offer. She wanted to allow kids to explore areas of their city, “to let them see that there are so many possibilities, so many things that they can explore and do.”
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.
Finding a balance
It’s as much about getting out and seeing the world as it is about making connections between communities, ideas, and people. Gallegos comes to all of that honestly, having worked as a travel director for adult and youth groups, most recently as part of the Me To We staff.
Toronto Kidz 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.
Though, of course, the bustle is good too. “We know how great urban life can be for families.” For Gallegos, it’s about finding the right balance. “There’s a balance between being active outdoors and indoors,” as well as that between fine and gross motor skills. 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.
In all, each day at Toronto Kidz is a pretty good day. Learning, growing, and building on personal strengths. “I like the way that children explore the world,” says Gallegos, “and I want to help them do that. It’s so nice to see kids be passionate about something.” She’s right of course. It really is.