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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

  • 1-UP Leadership Programs at Ernescliff College

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: 1-UP Leadership Programs at Ernescliff College

    our take

    Leadership programs are a common element of a traditional camp experience, and the 1-UP programs reflect the best of them: positive mentorship; training in ethical and empathetic leadership; collaboration. Where it departs is in the setting—at Ernescliff College participants work together in the heart of the city as well as, with the Caribou sessions, at the edge of a lake. The benefits are many, including an ability for teens to attend throughout the year, through weekend and evening offerings, in addition to the intensive summer sessions. The focus is on service and community involvement, and projects are specific and object oriented. The sessions in Quebec City open the experience in some key ways, broadening the scope and reach of the Toronto programs. The values piece is also a draw.
     

Toronto 0
  • Academic Camp Canada

    Mill Bay, British Columbia

    Our Take: Academic Camp Canada

    our take

    Academic Camp Canada, as the name suggests, an academic camp: kids attend to build facility with various aspects of the school curricula. That said, the experience goes well beyond the purely tutorial. Campers arrive from across Canada and around the world to two of the most inspiring academic environments in the country: the west coast camp is hosted at Brentwood College, and the east coast camp is hosted at Rothesay Netherwood School. Brentwood, with views of the ocean and the mountains from anywhere on campus, is easily a contender for the most beautiful campus in Canada. It’s close to nature, with lots of outdoor spaces for students to gather and interact. Rothesay, for its part, is also something of a jaw dropper. It dates to 1874 when the brilliantly named Ezekiel Stone Wiggins founded Thompson's School, a coed day school. The school remains true to a tradition of academic excellence, and the campus is rich with reminders of its long history. It’s also the alma mater of John Peters Humphrey, primary author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In all of that an much more, these are inspiring places. When campers arrive they join a community of academically oriented peers, in settings that celebrate the length and breadth of what education can offer. Administration is top-notch, with comprehensive support for campers arriving from next door, or the other side of the globe.

Mill Bay 0
  • Adventure Valley

    Thornhill, Ontario

    Our Take: Adventure Valley

    our take

    Adventure Valley provides a true camp experience with the benefit of being close to home. Transportation is a plus, as are the other amenities, such as lunch. The holiday and PA day camps are also a draw, given that they allow a continuity through a child's year, returning to the same environment at intervals even outside of the summer months. The program is very established, with strong staff, and breadth of programming, including the basics and beyond. 

Thornhill 0
  • Albion Hills Field Centre

    Caledon , Ontario

    Our Take: Albion Hills Field Centre

    our take

    Located at the headwaters of the Oak Ridges Moraine, Albion Hills Conservation Area is a natural heritage site comprised of more than 1200 acres of mixed-use green space. Founded in 1955, it's the first conservation facility of its kind in Ontario (as well as home to perhaps the largest breeding colony of herons in Southern Ontario). As such, the property has been a focal point of environmental stewardship for upwards of half a century, and the summer camps were begun in order to extend the work of the field centre. The facilities are exceptional, with all the mod cons and then some. The resources are many and varied, and the camps make good use of all of them. The trails are extensive, and the natural heritage is as well, and the camps seek to allow time engage actively with the habitat and the wildlife populations that it supports. The human resources are notable as well, and campers enter a setting of expertise, interacting with nature with those who have invested their lives in promoting environmental awareness and conservation. The camps are relatively new, though the setting, facilities, resources, and culture are long established and exceptionally managed.
     

Caledon 0
  • Animation Portfolio Workshop Boot Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Animation Portfolio Workshop Boot Camp

    our take

    It’s often said that the way to improve at tennis is to play someone better, that a challenge lifts skills and confidence. That’s true of all things, perhaps, including animation. When participants enter sessions at APW, they’re entering an environment of excellence, one that is populated by instructors and peers who are at the top of their games. Founded in 1999 by Vince Peets and Gerard Sternik, both former instructors of Sheridan College, APW was created to allows kids to learn by doing based in an understanding that, per Peets, “experience is a big motivator.” Gaining experience with people who speak the same language, and who have navigated the geography of professional illustration and animation, is as well. While developing skills, participants gain insight into the various paths they might take to their careers, and very purposefully build their portfolios with those paths in mind. In all, it’s a strong, proven program, as inspiring as it is successful in developing the skills and talents of those who attend.
     

Toronto 0
  • Animation, Architecture and Illustration Summer Art Camp by PortPrep

    Guelph, Ontario

    Our Take: Animation, Architecture and Illustration Summer Art Camp by PortPrep

    our take

    PortPrep doesn’t look like a traditional camp, to be sure, but for those who participate within it, it functions in exactly that way: allowing them to grow into an understanding of who they are, and what they can do, while engaging with people who themselves have made a life in that milieu. Students come from across North America from British Columbia, Alberta, from Maine to Texas and even from as far away as Saudi Arabia. Here they interact with peers and mentors who are at the top of their games. For example, have sessions with Mike L Murphy, the animator who created Gollum from Lord of the Rings, and directed the animated sequences in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, who teaches from his studio in California. Most people don’t know that name, perhaps, but for the kids who gravitate to PortPrep, it’s something akin to a guitar player getting to know Keith Richards.

    That experience itself can be transformative, though the goal, as the name implies, is to help young people take the next step toward their personal goals, that is, creating a portfolio that will help gain acceptance to post-secondary animation program. And they do. “You have NO idea how long I've wanted to type out this email,” wrote a past camper to his instructors after gaining a place at Sheridan College. “It feels as unreal as it sounds … You and Garth both gave me a proper start in this huge (and mildly painful) journey and I would've never been able to finally come to this point without your help.” In that, and much else, it's a one-of-a-kind program with a lot to recommend it. 

Guelph 0
  • Apostrophe Kids

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Apostrophe Kids

    our take

    STEM and STEAM get a lot of attention these days, though how we express our ideas is just as important as how we arrive at them. Appreciating a well-crafted argument, and writing in a longer form than a tweet, is a key skill that kids will need to succeed in post-secondary and beyond, yet often can receive short shrift. At Apostrophe, kids have a chance to really drill down on effective communication, while also exercising a natural affinity for text, story-telling, and stories, with peers who share that area of interest.

Oakville 0
  • Appleby College Summer Programs

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Appleby College Summer Programs

    our take

    Appleby is, of course, a world-class institution, having established itself and its facilities since it was founded in 1911. The campus is in the heart of things, yet feels a world away, including a wooded shoreline and a wealth of green space. That environment provides the context for a range of summer programs that extend the world-class offerings of the school’s programs. With sessions for kids from 4 to 17, there are also summer experience programs for students visiting from overseas. All contribute to a hive of activity, and the size and diversity of the camper population on campus throughout the summer is a benefit in and of itself. The camps are expertly run and administered, and the facilities throughout are as good as it gets, from the sports facilities to the arts studios to the STEM labs. The schedule is augmented by programs that are brilliantly unique, such as Game Theory enrichment session, Personal Finance, and a Short Story writing course, among others. Lunches are included, as are daily swims. Love it.

Oakville 0
  • Army and Navy Academy Summer Camp

    Carlsbad, California

    Our Take: Army and Navy Academy Summer Camp

    our take

    Army and Navy Academy is a military academy cast in the mold of like schools throughout the US, including West Point. They have a long history, to be sure, and they represent a rich educational tradition, one that Army and Navy is rightly very proud to take part within. Founded in 1910, students are attracted to Army and Navy by those traditions, and throughout their time at the school they remain cognizant of their place within something much larger than themselves. The life of the school is structured and highly organized and that, too, is a primary draw. Character and ethical leadership are the key foci of the program, whether or not students are looking forward to a career in the military.

    While the summer programs aren’t school proper, they extend the work of the academic program, and similarly are based around challenge and personal growth. Values are a key aspect, with participants working together toward common goals. While the challenges may be significant, the rewards are as well, including a sense of accomplishment, inclusion, resilience, and growth.

Carlsbad 0
  • Arrowsmith School Cognitive Intensive Program

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Arrowsmith School Cognitive Intensive Program

    our take

    The Arrowsmith School was founded in 1980 by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young to provide support for struggling learners. The school has been an object of interest ever since, due to the concept that Arrowsmith-Young built her program around. "If we look at a lot of special education programs, the majority assume the learner is fixed," she said. "What my program is saying is that we can change the learner so they can learn." While there are many things that set the school apart, that sense of what is possible is prime among them. The Cognitive Intensive Program extends the work of the school, based in a like model and similar goals. Each year it hosts both adults and school age students who arrived from literally from around the world--as close as the US, and as far as Australia. They come because of the success of the program as well as its uniqueness—there is literally nothing like it in terms of approach and outcomes. And the outcomes are these: taking struggling learners, specifically around cognitive function and symbol relations, and helping them develop as learners and growing into a more accurate understanding of their academic abilities and what they are capable of. It’s life-changing in every way. The program promises a lot, and it consistently delivers all of that and more. 

Toronto 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
  • ARTiculations

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: ARTiculations

    our take

    ARTiculations was created to be a hub of the local arts community, being equal parts shop, school, studio, and gallery. That environment is part of the draw of the kids’ programs. It's frankly beautiful, inspiring in its own right, and includes many opportunities to meet local artists, to see their work, and to feel a part of the community itself. Programs make good use of indoor and outdoor spaces, and are designed to encourage a facility not just with the skills associated with making art, but also the purpose of making art. They help young people to grow into a greater appreciation of their talents, to use their voices, and to develop their creative and personal strengths. All instructors are professional artists, each providing a unique window onto the wider world of art and the place that it can have in a young person's life.
     

Toronto 0
  • Aviation Immersion Camp

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Aviation Immersion Camp

    our take

    Flying involves a host of interpersonal and technical skills and aptitudes, and the Aviation Immersion Camp was formed to develop them, including communication, collaboration, analysis, and an ability to engage effectively within complex systems. The flying takes place within a series of simulators, environments that are in every way identical to their professional correlates, with the only exception that they don’t leave the ground. Participants cover everything from the theory of flight, the basics of meteorology, to the details of in-flight, real-time operations. It’s unique, to be sure, and that’s what draws families and drives the excitement of the campers that attend. The structure of the setting includes defined roles and ranks, which for many kids is part of the thrill of it all. Yes, some will want to go on to careers in commercial aviation, though these sessions will appeal to a wider audience of young people than that, including those who are drawn to topics in engineering, as well as those who simply dream of flying. The instructors are passionate professionals who, like founder Aaron Murphy, approach the endeavour with equal parts intelligence, experience, and wonder.
     

Mississauga 0
  • Base de Plein Air Jean-Jeune

    Vendée, Québec

    Our Take: Base de Plein Air Jean-Jeune

    our take

    Jean-Jeune has a long and vibrant history, and there has been a camp here since the early part of the last century. It was first created by Bishop Forget, Bishop of the Diocese of Saint-Jean, who lead fishing trips here, which then evolved into a more defined facility. There aren’t any buildings remaining from that time—the first were tents—but the desire remains the same as the one that inspired Forget: to get young people together, in nature, working cooperatively, and experiencing life in a different set of priorities than those that characterise the hustle and bustle of the city. The programming includes all the traditional activities, with a focus on cooperative games and challenge by choice. The camp has very intentionally focused its approach on the emotional needs of young people, as well as the values of ecology and environmental stewardship. All is conducted in French, which, for English speakers hoping to improve their second-language skills, makes it one of the most genuinely immersive environments you can hope to find. The camp is well run, well outfitted, within a beautiful setting. Family camp sessions allow for a unqiue experience, and for some is an opportunity to gently warm younger campers to the camp concept. 
     

Vendée 0
  • Base de Plein Air Mont-Tremblant

    Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

    Our Take: Base de Plein Air Mont-Tremblant

    our take

    The location is spectacular, it perhaps goes without saying. The facilities are also worth writing home about, with all the mod cons and then some, while keeping things centered on the basics of camp: time in the water, time in nature, time in a shared community. All the traditional activities are offered, and underwritten by the core traditional values, those being a respect for the environment and for each other. The language offerings are a plus, with both ESL and FSL support, as is the linguistic diversity of the campers who attend. It’s a nice mix, that includes campers arriving from overseas. Owner Sabine Bergeron has a background in special needs, and ensures that the staff reflect all of the enthusiasm and empathy that time away from home requires.

Mont-Tremblant 0
  • Bear Creek Outdoor Centre

    Campbell's Bay, Quebec

    Our Take: Bear Creek Outdoor Centre

    our take

    Jill Baxter founded Bear Creek Outdoor Centre in 1999 as a means of providing meaningful outdoor experiences, something that the Centre has continued to do ever since. Baxter brought a rich CV to her role, including studies in therapeutic recreation at Trent University, and graduate studies in environmental education at Utah State University. In addition to her work at the Center, she is an instructor with the Algonquin College Outdoor Adventure Leadership program. Baxter remains as director of Bear Creek, bringing a nice continuity to the development of the programs offered here and extending the initial goals. Active Challenge is one of the means of doing that. The sessions were created to offer meaningful, mindful experiences to young women in a single-gender setting. As the name suggests, these sessions are about challenge by choice, promoting physical activity and active lifestyles in the purpose of developing confidence and positive self-concept. There’s informed attention given to all aspects of life in camp, including diet. Pascale Messier, a registered dietician councils campers about eating well—she is a public health Dietitian with the City of Ottawa, co-author of the Fuel-to-Xcell healthy school foods project—and her expertise informs the menu as well. In all, from diet to activities to lifestyle, the Active Challenge camps provide a unique opportunity for young women to engage substantially with like-minded peers. The support that the group offers to all participants can, alone, be a transformative experience.
     

Campbell's Bay 0
  • Bishop's College School Summer Language Camp

    Sherbrooke, Quebec

    Our Take: Bishop's College School Summer Language Camp

    our take

    Bishop's was founded in 1836, becoming co-ed in 1972 through an amalgamation with King's Hall Compton. That long history is apparent in the traditions that remain at the school, and is apparent throughout the campus. We live in noisy world, and the site offers a nice bit of conceptual and geographic distance from it, and the environment is part of the draw for the summer programs. Participants arrive from around the world, creating a kind of United Nations for four weeks of the summer. The immersion in language is complete, both during classes, on campus, and during field trips. If there’s a better environment in which to learn a language, we’ve not found it.

Sherbrooke 0
  • Bishops Gate Golf Academy

    Howey in the Hills, Florida(USA)

    Our Take: Bishops Gate Golf Academy

    our take

    For players who take the game seriously, Bishop’s Gate is a dream come true. It’s not a course with a program, but a facility created, designed, and staffed for the purpose of coaching the dedicated athlete. The course—nine holes with two different tee and green options for each—is exclusive to the academy. When players attend, they enter an environment of true peers and mentors, those being young people and a coaching staff who are as dedicated as they are, with students as keen to improve their game as the coaches are able to help them do that. That alone can be transformational—it’s an environment where everyone shares the same passions and aspirations. Overnight sessions allow for young people learn and live together. Programs are offered throughout the year and are available at a range of skill levels, from core to elite.
     

Howey in the Hills 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
  • Bond Academy Day Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Bond Academy Day Camp

    our take

    Begun in 1978, Bond Academy has grown to include a wealth of programs, including those beyond the prospectus of the academy. The campus is proximate to a full range of physical resources and a rich athletics program. The camps extend the work of the school proper, allowing for academic support and enrichment through the summer months. Families are also drawn by the augmentation of the program with character and values education, which is a hallmark of the school.

Toronto 0
  • Bot Camp - Specialty Robotics Programs

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Bot Camp - Specialty Robotics Programs

    our take

    As in so many camps, the real value of the programming comes from the people that campers meet when they attend, and that’s especially true in this instance. At Bot Camp they’ll work with peers who share their passions and aptitude for STEM. They’ll also enter an environment of champions; all of the instructors are award-winning, competitive robotics athletes. And they think of it in that way—it’s a sport, and they approach it as you would any sport, with drive, passion, and a thirst for challenge. The program is designed, developed, and run by Shawn Lim, who is himself an elite athlete in the world of robotics and programming. As director of district implementation for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Canada, he has a deep experience and history with competition, having competed in the very first event in 1998. He’s vibrant, and inspiring, and runs the programs in that vein. The camp is committed to providing girls opportunities, with ample gender peers and mentors.

Toronto 0
  • BrainTech Robotics

    Vaughan, Ontario

    Our Take: BrainTech Robotics

    our take

    While the STEM concept may seem relatively new, the antecedents aren’t. A telling example is the work of Miss Sophie Wolfe, a teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York, in the early part of the last century. Beginning in the 1920s, she invited interested students to stay after school to work on high-interest projects, creating a loosely-formed science club that would, in time, influence three Nobel laureates: Paul Berg, Arthur Kornberg, and Jerome Karl. Wolfe sought to stimulate curiosity, enjoyment, collaboration, and the application of the tools of study to real-world problems. Berg said of the experience with Wolfe that “looking back, I realise that nurturing curiosity and the instinct to seek solutions are perhaps the most important contributions that education can make.”

    Indeed, that’s exactly what BrainTech is about. While we can easily get caught up in the stuff—the tech resources on hand—it is ultimately just the tools used to get at something greater: nurturing curiosity and the instinct to seek solutions. It’s about education, but it’s also about more than that, including the values of ethical and empathic leadership and cooperation. The programs are hands-on, promoting of an array of behaviours and skills—including effective, spirited communication and collaboration—that build facility with core literacies and their application. There’s real science, but there’s real fun, too, conducted within a setting of true peers, namely kids who share the same passions and speak, as it were, the same language. Summer sessions can be nicely augmented by those offered throughout the year, including afterschool and during key holidays. Extended hours are offered, which is a nice nod to what parents need, namely a bit of flexibility from time to time.
     

Vaughan 0
  • Branksome Hall Day Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Branksome Hall Day Camps

    our take

    To say that Branksome Hall has a lot to offer is a massive understatement. The environment is truly singular: 13 acres of stellar facilities, from heritage buildings to state of the art science, arts, and athletics environments, including two salt-water pools. And it’s all right here, in the heart of the city. The school is famed for empowering learners, and providing opportunities for them to find their strengths and their voices, and that’s an aspect of the camp sessions.

Toronto 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
  • Brick Works Academy

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Brick Works Academy

    our take

    Not all camps are the same, but they all intend to do the same thing: to allow campers to learn about themselves, gain a sense of their talents, grow into a set of shared values, and then broadcast all of that to the world. David Goodfellow established Brick Works with precisely that in mind. While people normally think about summer camp as soccer balls in a park, or making pottery, he was aware that there is a huge group of children that want to learn with tech or socialize with others who share their passion and interests. That remains the core of the Brick Works offering. Kids are drawn by their interests in in subjects like Pokemon, Minecraft, or Harry Potter, and enter a community that shares those interests, and interacts with them in the same way. But that’s just the starting point. The camps allow them to grow together, work together, and exercise their minds around some shared projects. The success of the program is evident in its popularity with families, and its growth, now with multiple locations throughout southern Ontario.

Toronto 0
  • Bricks 4 Kidz - Mississauga - Oakville - Milton - Burlington

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Bricks 4 Kidz - Mississauga - Oakville - Milton - Burlington

    our take

    For kids, Bricks 4 Kids is a Lego program: they see is a chance to indulge their interest along with other kids who share it, and otherwise dive in to a lot of cool stuff. For parents and teachers, it’s a means of interesting kids in STEAM topics, and take part in summer, afterschool, weekend, and holiday programs that support and extend the school science, physics, and math curriculum. The programs are well conceived, expertly run, and informed by a thorough knowledge of the public school curricular expectations and outcomes. There’s  a lot to love. The wealth of programs both through the summer and during the school year provide a consistent outlet that children can return to, and feel comfortable in, throughout the year.

Mississauga 0
  • Bricks 4 Kidz – Vaughan – Richmond Hill

    Vaughan, Ontario

    Our Take: Bricks 4 Kidz – Vaughan – Richmond Hill

    our take

    For kids, Bricks 4 Kids is a Lego program: they see is a chance to indulge their interest along with other kids who share it, and otherwise dive in to a lot of cool stuff. For parents and teachers, it’s a means of interesting kids in STEAM topics, and take part in summer, afterschool, weekend, and holiday programs that support and extend the school science, physics, and math curriculum. The programs are well conceived, expertly run, and informed by a thorough knowledge of the public school curricular expectations and outcomes. There’s  a lot to love. The wealth of programs both through the summer and during the school year provide a consistent outlet that children can return to, and feel comfortable in, throughout the year.

Vaughan 0
  • Bricks 4 Kidz Oakville/ Burlington

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Bricks 4 Kidz Oakville/ Burlington

    our take

    For kids, Bricks 4 Kids is a Lego program: they see is a chance to indulge their interest along with other kids who share it, and otherwise dive in to a lot of cool stuff. For parents and teachers, it’s a means of interesting kids in STEAM topics, and take part in summer, afterschool, weekend, and holiday programs that support and extend the school science, physics, and math curriculum. The programs are well conceived, expertly run, and informed by a thorough knowledge of the public school curricular expectations and outcomes. There’s  a lot to love. The wealth of programs both through the summer and during the school year provide a consistent outlet that children can return to, and feel comfortable in, throughout the year.

Oakville 0
  • Bricks 4 Kidz Woodbridge

    Brampton, Ontario

    Our Take: Bricks 4 Kidz Woodbridge

    our take

    For kids, Bricks 4 Kids is a Lego program: they see is a chance to indulge their interest along with other kids who share it, and otherwise dive in to a lot of cool stuff. For parents and teachers, it’s a means of interesting kids in STEAM topics, and take part in summer, afterschool, weekend, and holiday programs that support and extend the school science, physics, and math curriculum. The programs are well conceived, expertly run, and informed by a thorough knowledge of the public school curricular expectations and outcomes. There’s  a lot to love. The wealth of programs both through the summer and during the school year provide a consistent outlet that children can return to, and feel comfortable in, throughout the year.

Brampton 0
  • Bricks4kidz Beaches Leslieville

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Bricks4kidz Beaches Leslieville

    our take

    For kids, Bricks 4 Kids is a Lego program: they see is a chance to indulge their interest along with other kids who share it, and otherwise dive in to a lot of cool stuff. For parents and teachers, it’s a means of interesting kids in STEAM topics, and take part in summer, afterschool, weekend, and holiday programs that support and extend the school science, physics, and math curriculum. The programs are well conceived, expertly run, and informed by a thorough knowledge of the public school curricular expectations and outcomes. There’s  a lot to love. The wealth of programs both through the summer and during the school year provide a consistent outlet that children can return to, and feel comfortable in, throughout the year.

Toronto 0
  • Brighton School Summer Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Brighton School Summer Camps

    our take

    The Brighton School program begins from the understanding that not all students are able to adapt themselves to the curriculum; rather, in order to reach their potentials, they require an academic environment that adapts itself to them. There are lots of challenges out there, and Brighton has a history of helping their students meet all of them, no matter what form they might take. All of that is carried over into the summer programs, which are intended to be fun, first and foremost, while also building children’s confidence around social interactions, self-regulation, and conflict resolution. For parents, the summer programs allow an opportunity to engage children while extending and augmenting the skills that they are learning throughout the year. Staff are supportive, and highly experienced in working with children, particularly those with a range of special needs. 

Toronto 0
  • Britannia Yacht Club

    Ottawa, Ontario

    Our Take: Britannia Yacht Club

    our take

    In some cases place is an essential aspect of a camp experience, and BYC is a great example of that. The club has been here for more than 130 years, and it shows its age in all the best ways: established, stately, serene. They refer to it as your cottage in the city, though it’s more than that—it’s the front door of a longstanding tradition and a longstanding community. Campers enter a culture of expertise and engagement, gaining a front-row seat to the world of sailing. For many campers that itself, quite rightly, can be a transformative and lasting experience. The staff provide an introduction to the sailing, both as sport and recreation, though also an introduction to all the places that sailing can take you, literally and figuratively. Director Lisa Shishis has experience in national and international sailing, and brings that experience to the camps. Fun is prized, as it should be, but campers also learn skills and apply them within a setting that recognises, implicitly, their value.

Ottawa 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 Ak-O-Mak

    Ahmic Harbour, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Ak-O-Mak

    our take

    Camp Ak-O-Mak is a truly a great Canadian camp, and it shares a pedigree with another great Canadian camp, Camp Chikopi. Both were formed as sports-centred camps at a time when that really didn’t exist in any tangible way. They were created by Matt Mann, a professional swimming coach who, among many other things, served as the coach of the US Olympic team. Swimming, naturally, was an initial focus, and it remained a highlight of the camp program, though other sports were added, all of which Mann saw as sympathetic to the program’s ideals: endurance, strength, character, and participation within a cooperative environment. Rosemary Mann Dawson, daughter of the founder, took on the directorship of the camp in 1941 and served—brilliantly, astonishingly—for the next 50 years. Her career in swimming soon became as notable as that of her father, including starting a program at the University of Michigan. While running the camp, she coached there, as well as at the University of Western Ontario. In all of that and more she was a pioneer in women’s sport, demonstrating through example what young women could accomplish and the place that sport might take in their lives; in a time when female empowerment wasn’t as central to the culture as it is, thankfully, today, Mann Dawson lead the charge. That legacy remains at the heart of the camp today. It’s a place where girls grow into a sense of their abilities in all areas of their lives, are encouraged to find their voices, and are inspired to the benefits of living active, healthy lives.

Ahmic Harbour 0
  • Camp Artaban

    North Vancouver, British Columbia

    Our Take: Camp Artaban

    our take

    Operated since 1923, Camp Artaban may be the oldest consistently run camp in the province. Located on Gambier Island, in the early days campers arrived via steamship, dropped at a floating dock from which they rowed into shore. The island is more accessible today, though retains all of the things that have made it popular with artists and photographers through the years: ancient cedars and a quiet that can feel a world away from Vancouver and then some, despite being only a half-hour ferry ride away. The camp was developed under the leadership of an Anglican bishop to reflect that faith tradition and its values, something that remains today. (The name is that of the fourth member of the biblical magi, though he doesn’t arrive in time with the others, as stops to help needy people all along his way to Jerusalem.) The camp rightly makes use of all the natural resources that surround it, set on 50 acres that abuts extensive crown land. It offers age appropriate adventure, as well as specialty sessions, including a girls’ camp and leadership training. The activities are exactly, and delightfully, what you'd expect from a traditional camp in Canada—hiking, woodslore, tripping, crafts, swimming, and soaking up the spirit of the pristine setting. 
     

North Vancouver 0
  • Camp Big Canoe

    Bracebridge, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Big Canoe

    our take

    Camp Big Canoe began in 1931 as Camp Ahshunyoong, founded by the York County Boys’ Work Board. It was a product of its time, though grew and developed considerably through the years. It moved twice and in 1965 ownership was transferred to the United Church of Canada, which has run the program ever since, having moved to the current location on Hart Lake in 1968. One thing that has remained since the very beginning is the goal of providing a place of community and belonging, a place where young people can grow and learn together into a shared set of values. It reflects the tried and true traditions of camping, including camp craft and tripping. The site is extensive, and if you have an idea of what an overnight camp should be, this is it. The facilities have been updated over the years, and the site maintained in such a way as to keep a close interface with the surrounding natural environment as well as the camp’s long-standing traditions. A wealth of all-camp programs during the evening are a plus, bringing everyone together for active events as well as three campfires per session. Cheese House is the camp’s take on talent night, and it provides something of a touchstone for the programs; it's an opportunity for campers to get out of their comfort zones presenting songs and skits to the group as a whole, and likewise being supported and encouraged by the group. In so many ways, that and the other programs are precisely what camping is all about.
     

Bracebridge 0
  • Camp Bil-O-Wood

    Blind River, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Bil-O-Wood

    our take

    Tradition is important. It provides a window onto a wider world, and a chance to tap into something larger than ourselves. That kind of tradition provides a basis for the offering at Bil-O-Wood. Founded in 1946 and run by four generations of the same family, it remains consistent with its roots, offering a chance to really engage with the foundation of camping in Canada. Kids perhaps don't really care, at least not in an intellectual way, and that's fine. What they do appreciate, whether or not they express it, is the opportunity to step outside the bustle of their lives, to spend a bit of time in nature, and to live for a time through a different set of priorities. For many families, that, very rightly, is what camp is all about. 

Blind River 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 Chikopi

    Magnetawan, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Chikopi

    our take

    Celebrating its centenary in 2020, Camp Chikopi has a long and very unique history. It was founded as a sports camp at a time when such a thing simply didn’t exist. It was founded by a US Olympic coach, Matt Mann, and the approach that he brought, as well as the level of coaching experience, remains to this day. Bob Duenkel, the current director, is himself a past elite swim coach and director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Directorship of the camp has remained essentially in the family, if with a few twists and turns along the way, and leadership has been strikingly consistent, particularly in upholding the founding values of challenge, community, teamwork, and adventure. Campers arrive to an environment that is dedicated to personal achievement, physical activity, and excellence. Facilities are excellent, with all the appropriate updates while being sympathetic to the traditions and the history of the site.

Magnetawan 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 Crossroads

    Torrance, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Crossroads

    our take

    The location and facilities are, frankly, as good as it gets. Crossroads is in Muskoka, but it’s also very much of Muskoka, with the feel and aesthetic that makes the region so singular and charming. The range of activities includes all those you’d expect from a traditional camp—canoeing, crafts, horseback riding, leadership training—as well as a others that broaden the offering in sympathetic ways. The feel is vibrant and engaged, with the spiritual aspect adding meaning and depth to the experience. Family camp sessions are a plus, and can also provide an entrée for younger or reluctant campers before they make the move to an overnight program. There is also rich and varied programs on offer though the shoulder seasons and through the winter months. Staffing is experienced and professional, something that for the families that attend is rightly a draw.

Torrance 0
  • Camp Davern

    Maberly, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Davern

    our take

    Davern was established in 1946, and the values that it was founded with remain to this day. Of course, the world in 1946 was very different than today, but then, as now, there was a desire to get kids away from the stresses of life, to allow them to spread their wings a bit in a place beyond the concerns of school and home. It’s a place where kids have an opportunity to spend some time closer to nature and, by extension, through a different set of priorities and at a slower pace. The program is overseen by executive director Andrew Martin, who also directs Camp Can-Aqua, another great Canadian camp. He’s a champion of what traditional camping can bring to a young person’s life. The facilities are wonderful in that they continue to display the long history of the camp, while being up to date in all the essential ways. The site is gorgeous, which is a draw, though the values, spirit, and culture of the camp are the things that families and campers appreciate most.

Maberly 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 Ekon

    Rosseau, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Ekon

    our take

    Camp Ekon was established in 1971, though there’s a longer history here. The name “Ekon” is that given by the Ouendat community to 17th century Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf. The property has been owned by Jesuits since the 1940s, and they used it as a place of retreat and spiritual engagement. The camp was begun as a means of extending that work. The core values and traditions are Catholic, though the day-to-day camper experience reflects the values of those traditions, rather than the liturgy per se. Services are available to those to wish to take part in them, though campers are welcome from across the breadth of faith traditions, and from outside of them as well. Again, it’s the values that the camp wishes to bring forward—service, inclusion, empathetic leadership, environmental stewardship, having a positive influence in the world—something it does movingly and well. The facilities are up to date, though reflect the history of the setting. The location is exceptional; in the heart of Muskoka, it’s, well, gorgeous in all the ways you'd expect. The activities are traditional, including out-tripping, the full range of camp craft plus sports, campfires, music and the arts. It’s a very strong offering, exceptionally administered by experienced staff and counsellors. As such, spaces fill quickly, so the earlier you book, the better.
     

Rosseau 0
  • Camp Frenda

    Port Carling, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Frenda

    our take

    The location in the heart of Muskoka couldn’t be better, and the programs, too, are at the heart of the camping tradition. The activities are a draw, though there are larger goals at play as well—the activities, as is the case at all great camps, are a means of keeping kids active as well as working together around a shared of common goals and values. At Frenda, those values are grounded in a Christian perspective, which for many families that attend is a primary draw. Year round sessions, retreats, and family camps extend the offering.  

Port Carling 0
  • Camp Glendon

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Glendon

    our take

    Tucked away in leafy Bayview and Lawrence neighbourhood, Glendon College of York University is like an oasis of peace and quiet, all nicely accessible via public transportation. During the summer months, it’s home to Camp Glendon, with sessions that reflect some of the strengths of the school, including bilingualism, of which Glendon College is a national leader. Likewise, a tennis program is run out of the Glendon Athletic Club, a 55,000 square foot full use fitness facility. There’s a buzz there, one buoyed by a community of people who exemplify the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle. Staff and instructors come directly from the university culture and community, bringing an added layer of enthusiasm, energy, and expertise.

Toronto 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 Kahuna

    Burlington, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Kahuna

    our take

    Camp Kahuna offers all the benefits and fun of camping and then some, from traditional activities to BMX bike racing to celebrity guests. The camps were founded in 1993 as an extension of Scott Graham’s work with young people around bullying and self-esteem. So, while the programs are notably varied, the intention is to help young people find their talents, their voices, and to build empathetic leadership skills in a range of collaborative contexts. Both day and overnight sessions are available, and both are close to home yet proximate to a wealth of green space. The day camps are on a 65-acre property abutting the escarpment, and includes indoor, outdoor, and nature environments. The overnight sessions are also nicely close by, hosted at the Blue Springs Scout Reserve, 200 acres of mixed woodland. Half-week overnight sessions are a nice addition, providing a chance for kids to get a sense of what the experience is like, warming them to the longer full-week sessions.  
     

Burlington 0
  • Camp Kawartha

    Douro-Dummer, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Kawartha

    our take

    Since 1921, Camp Kawartha has offered a traditional camp experience based in outdoor activity and camp craft. The Clear Lake site, which includes 186 acres forests, wetlands, and lakefront, is the locus of the overnight programs. The environment centre, next to Trent University, is the mustering point for programs relating to environmental stewardship as well as host to the day camps. It's also a teaching facility, associated with the Trent School of Education, used to introduce concepts and strategies for effective environmental education and alternative, sustainable living. There campers gain a first-hand experience with environmental initiatives, both passively and actively, including sustainable architecture, solar ovens and cookers, and other innovations. Sessions offer a range of duration, allowing campers to start early, easing into the camp concepts and values as they move from the primary programs up through leadership training. Staff is well-versed in the culture of Camp Kawartha, including camp alumni, which adds to the quality of the camper experience.

Douro-Dummer 0
  • Camp Kennebec

    Arden, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Kennebec

    our take

    There are lots of camps that are inspiring, and Kennebec is at the top of that list. It is designed to support a range of special needs, though to do it in a way that doesn’t foreground them. Kids need support, yes, but the point here is to provide the support and then get on with all the things that camp can be. Says Donna Segal, “We just work so hard to give them a typical summer that every kid deserves at summer camp.” Love that. The staff is exceptional, too, in that it’s composed of post-secondary students and professional teachers who are attracted precisely by all the positive impacts that an environment like this can have in the life of a child. Per the hiring guidelines, staff must demonstrate empathy, a sense of humor, patience, and a strong desire to give the campers the summer of their lives. Love that, too. The campers have exceptionalities, but at camp, they aren’t exceptional, at least not in the way they can be in other environments. Here they are understand, and their talents are seen ahead their exceptionalities; their personalities ahead of their challenges. Kennebec is the very definition of what camp can do in the life of a child.  

Arden 0
  • Camp Kodiak

    McKellar, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Kodiak

    our take

    All camps, in varying degrees, personify what camp is all about, though some do that even better than most. Kodiak is one of those camps. It began from a place of pure, unadulterated care, when Dave Stoch explored how camp, particularly, could support kids with a range of special needs. He moved with his family to the US for 7 years, living and learning at a special needs camp there. His daughter, Shari Stoch, says that “in these special needs camping environments that he’d been involved in, he saw the kids really thrive, and they were able to find their place.” And that, right there, is absolutely what camp, any camp, is about. That’s what camp can do that other environments often can’t, or can’t do as well. The family returned to Canada in 1991 and founded Camp Kodiak, building it around all the best practices that they had grown to appreciate. It’s not about separating kids with needs from others, but realizing that, well, all kids have needs, though not necessarily all the same ones. Kodiak is a place where they can be integrated, where their struggles are understood, and programming is managed to provide fun, learning, growing, and inclusion for all. Dave Stoch’s daughters Ilana, Shari and Marni now direct the camp, having started that first year as counsellors and working into the leadership roles. Their expressed interest is to maintain all the goals, dreams, and culture that their father established those years ago. It’s a great story, and a great camp. This is truly what it’s all about.

McKellar 0
  • Camp Mini-Yo-We

    Port Sydney, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Mini-Yo-We

    our take

    Many families turn to Mini-Yo-We because of the values it expresses, and rightly so. It’s adept at providing those values. That said, the staff is adept at many other things, with vibrancy prime among them—the goal is to light a fire within the campers, getting them engaged quickly and then building from there, something they make look far easier than it is. There is also a great attention to detail, with the programs and facilities sparkling throughout. All is exceptionally well managed, maintained, and promoted, through the summer and all year long. The breadth of programming allows for campers to develop seamlessly from their first overnight experience, to moving into leadership and mentoring roles. Spaces regularly sell out, which is as good a recommendation of the program as you can get. And Rich. He’s the executive director, and is a good recommendation, too. If you haven’t already, friend him on Facebook. You’ll be glad you did.

Port Sydney 0
  • Camp Muskoka

    Bracebridge, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Muskoka

    our take

    Fun is a priority at Camp Muskoka, though values are as well. Overnight, coed sessions in the heart of cottage country as well as the Canadian shield, the programming is active and varied.  A low camper to staff ratio is a draw, as is the breadth of programming. Campers choose daily from a wide array of activities, from the strikingly modern (flyboarding, paintball) to the very core of the camp tradition, including guitar, art, and camp craft. Camp-wide events are a chance to get loud, though the cabin groups and specialty activities allow campers a chance to exercise their quieter sides. The younger campers stay in a lodge, which is unique in the world of camping, designed to offer a sense of community. The older campers stay in cottages that sparkle with all the mod cons located within them. In all of that, the quality of the offering is what rightly catches parents’ and campers’ attention alike. From registration, to staffing, to food service, the camp is expertly and efficiently run.

Bracebridge 0
  • Camp Nokomis

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Nokomis

    our take

    Camp Nokomis is one of those little gems of the camping world. The program was established in 1957, and has carried happily along its way ever since. The goals are those of traditional camping, namely to get kids working together, having fun together, as they grow into a sense of themselves and their place in the world. Values are a big part of it, as they should be. The leadership is the best advertisement for the camp, with Jay and Vicki Haddad being the definition of camp people. They do it because they love it, and it shows. Sunny summer days, spent outdoors, with others. This is what it’s all about. The fact that it’s fairly close by is a nice plus, too.

Toronto 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, Maine

    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 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 Pathfinder

    Huntsville, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Pathfinder

    our take

    Founded in 1914, Pathfinder has a long and distinguished history, one that rightly informs the camp experience today. The camp facility is, frankly, stunning, occupying an island of its own. The structures sit beneath mature pines, with technology limited to basically to the kitchen. As such, it’s as authentic a camp experience as you could hope to find, and a traditional camp in the best sense of the term. On one hand that term refers to the activities, including canoeing, tripping, camp craft, water sports. More importantly, it refers to the culture of the camp. When boys arrive, they participate within an environment and community that is much, much larger than themselves, one that includes the many generations of campers that have come before. They feel a world away, yet part of a community that is formed around a clear set of values, including conservation, positive mentorship, team work, challenge, and growth. At Pathfinder, boys have time to focus on a different set of priorities, something that has been a core element of the camp experience since it was founded, though arguably more needed today than ever. Campers leave feeling that they’ve accomplished something, while having also become a part of something, a sense which they carry with them throughout the year. Pathfinder is, plainly put, one of the best all-boys’ programs in the country.

Huntsville 0
  • Camp Presqu'ile

    Owen Sound, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Presqu'ile

    our take

    Camp Presqu'ile was founded in 1929 to reflect the YMCA ideals, and it’s done that ever since. Spirit, mind and body remain the focus, as well as an overt attention to not only having fun, but also developing stewardship, community, and ethical leadership. The staff are drawn to the camp because of the values that they share, which in turn contributes to a strong, inspiring camp culture. The programming beautifully reflects the core traditions of camping in Canada, from active living to personal and interpersonal development. The facilities have been sympathetically updated, including a new dining hall in 1999, and an update to the mod cons in 2005. It nevertheless retains the feel of what camp is about: singing songs, getting out on the lake, and making lasting friendships.
     

Owen Sound 0
  • Camp Qwanoes

    Crofton, British Columbia

    Our Take: Camp Qwanoes

    our take

    The setting is spectacular, and the range of activities extensive, added to each year. All the traditional camp activities are represented, augmented with many that most camps don’t have, though which campers are very happy to see. The skate park provides an example of how the camp approaches all of its offerings: nothing is done by half. All sparkles, and run by dedicated and enthusiastic staff. The values piece allows for a unique point of connection, and it informs the feeling of inclusion that campers have while on site. Vibrant, exciting, caring. There’s a good reason that campers have been drawn to this place for more than three decades.
     

Crofton 0
  • Camp Santosh

    St-Mathieu-de-Parc, Quebec

    Our Take: Camp Santosh

    our take

    Camp should be fun, of course, though it should also be more than that, and Camp Santosh is a great example of that. The property is huge, including a wealth of woodland and shoreline, and just being within this environment can transformative. That said, the values through which the programming is delivered is a primary draw for many of the families that enroll here. There is a focus on active living, but also living well. Personal wellness is developed through mindfulness activities and nutrition. Campers are encouraged to look outward as well, developing stewardship toward each other, the natural environment, and beyond. The values of volunteerism, for example, are subtly reinforced at the beginning of each day. In all of that, Santosh offers a fresh take on the traditions of camping.
     

St-Mathieu-de-Parc 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.

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  • Camp Tamarack

    Bracebridge, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Tamarack

    our take

    There’s a lot to look at when considering a camp, including facilities, staff, activities. Those are the things we perhaps first look at and, while they’re important, there are other things that perhaps say a bit more about what the camp is all about. For Camp Tamarack, one of them is the Tamarack Book of World Records. As the title suggests, it’s an ongoing record of fastests, and furthests, and mosts along with the names of the campers who accomplished them: the longest paper airplane throw (13 feet), the fastest climb up Hawthorn Boulder (5 seconds), most noodles held on a single fork (29). The camp directors would likely shirk at the thought that this is a signature element of the camp, but, really, it says so much. It’s a demonstration of what the camp is all about. Only the hardest heart won’t be charmed by all the records listed. It's also significant of the overall approach, one where fun is taken seriously, just as inclusion is, and living through a set of priorities unlike any other that kids will encounter through the year. The list is significant of all the memories made. No doubt none of the campers will forget the year they set the record for the most consecutive tennis rallies or sandbag jumps. And that’s what camp should be: fun, community, friends and memories. Tamarack has so much to offer, from extensive waterfront, to 1000 acres, to consistent leadership, though it’s those less tangible things that, for most families, is rightly the principle draw, year after year.

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  • 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.

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  • Camp Tapawingo, YWCA

    Parry Sound, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Tapawingo, YWCA

    our take

    The camp says that “if your girl is 6 to 15 years old, she needs to be at Camp Tapawingo this summer.” And, actually, there’s more than a bit of truth to that. The program on offer is storied and, for more than 90 years, has provided an example that other camps have consistently looked to when developing their own programming. The camp has all the hallmarks you’d expect from a Y camp, including a strong foundation in traditional activities and camp craft, as well one in the spirit of camping: conservation, leadership, mentorship, growth. The environment allows girls to grow together, and into a sense of their abilities, in ways that other environments simply don’t allow. Tapawingo has a legacy of developing young girls into confident, spirited, engaged women, something which continues today. Sessions, busing, staff, programming, balance—all are as good as it gets.

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  • Camp Temagami

    Temagami, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Temagami

    our take

    Camp Temagami is, in so many ways, simply stunning. With more than a century of history, when campers arrive they step into an environment that has a long arc and a wealth of experience. The buildings show their age in all the right ways, and offer a view of the traditions that have supported the camp culture throughout its life. The staff and leadership all have a long association with the camp, as well as a deep appreciation for the ecology and geography of the region. The canoes are made by hand, with most of them built by Hugh Stewart who first arrived as a camper in 1959 and remains as part of the leadership team today. The canoes are canvas and cedar, just as they always where, and they and everything else about the camp feels like a natural expression of the environment and its heritage. The routes taken are, in many cases, those that were used by First Nations communities for perhaps hundreds of years. But, of course, the experience grows because of those things, but doesn’t exist because of them. Tripping is a chance for campers to challenge themselves, in small groups, to have an authentic experience of fellowship, teamwork, and their place in the world. There’s, frankly, a lot to love. For many campers, time spent with Camp Temagami is a transformative experience.  

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  • Camp Tournesol

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Tournesol

    our take

    Camp Tournesol was founded in 2001 by Martine Brouillet as a means of supporting language learning through the summer months, while also providing francophone environment for francophone campers. In, it was one of the truly dual-immersion programs in the GTA. Because of the language support, as well as the breadth of activities on offer, the camp has grown exponentially over the years, now including 19 locations and nearly 3000 participants through the summer season. The days are active, including team sports, games, as well as arts and crafts, drama, field trips, music—the full gamut of active, engaged camp programming. The camps also provide a unique environment for language learning, one beyond the classroom or school setting. For kids in French immersion, it’s a valuable opportunity to use the language less formally, building fluency and activity specific vocabulary.  

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  • Camp U of T Mississauga

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp U of T Mississauga

    our take

    The programs at Camp U of T Mississauga are impeccably run and creatively varied, making the most of the wide range of resources at hand. The sports sessions are exceptional, and all campers, no matter the program, have access to the varsity pool. The themed programs—including academic topics cast in playful light—give kids an age-appropriate sense (i.e., it's fun) of what university academic life is like. Some offerings are unlike any you’ll find anywhere else, including forensics—there are only three programs like this in Canada, and this is the most engaged, best outfitted—as well as things like Biz Science, which combine seemingly diverse interests and diverse approaches, from lab work to role play. The leadership training programs bring closer to home something that is more common in overnight camp settings, providing an opportunity for young people to grow into new roles, new responsibilities, and a new appreciation of the skills and talents that they personally can contribute to a group environment. In all of that and more, there’s a lot to love, both for parents and kids. These are some the best, and best run, most consistently managed day programs in the region.

Mississauga 0
  • Camp UofT Scarborough

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp UofT Scarborough

    our take

    Camp U of T Scarborough hosts leadership training programs that bring closer to home something that is more common in overnight settings, providing an opportunity for young people to grow into new roles, new responsibilities, and a new appreciation of the skills and talents that they personally can contribute to a group environment. The afternoon programs—including academic topics cast in playful light—are run as mini-University sessions, giving kids a sense of what university academic life is like. In all of that and more, there’s a lot to love, both for parents and kids. These are some the best, and best run, day programs in the region.

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  • 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.

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  • Camp Wanapitei

    Temagami, Ontario

    Our Take: Camp Wanapitei

    our take

    For some, the concept of canoe tripping can be a bit daunting, something that Wanapitei director Eoin Wood readily admits. Wrapped up within the concept, at least to the uninitiated, is the need for parents to let their kids get out there, to make their own experiences, and find their own place in the world. Tripping is conducted with those kinds of goals in mind. Member of Parliament Carolyn Bennett, a great proponent of canoe tripping, has said that “kids need to be able to forge friendships and again experience and take risks … Figuring out who you can trust and who you go to with problems, how you sort out who is a leader you can trust.” She notes that the people she has brought along with her, particularly around the development of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, are the people she has been on canoe trips with. It’s precisely in that spirit that Wanapitei has developed its tripping programs since it was founded in 1931. It’s challenging, and that’s part of it, though the risks are personal, not physical—the leadership at Wanapitei is as good as it gets, and the strength of the program is a testament to that. The experience of being out in nature, far from the noise and bustle of the world, working closely together with a group of peers and leaders is one that can be utterly transformative in the life of a young person.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Cardinal Golf Club’s Junior Camps

    King, Ontario

    Our Take: Cardinal Golf Club’s Junior Camps

    our take

    Cardinal Golf Club was founded by Dalt Hicks, who himself built a love of the game as a child. He grew up next to Forest Hill Golf Course, and as a boy gathered balls and sold them back to members. His interaction with the club grew as did his entrepreneurialism. As a caddy, he made 70 cents a round, which for time was significantly better than it sounds now. He also grew to understand that, yes, it’s a great game, but it’s also more than that: working within a club grants a sense of place, of belonging to something greater then yourself. It can spark friendships, as well as a desire to improve at the game as well as in the social outlets that a good club can provide. All of those things became a hallmark of the Cardinal offering, including a desire, within the camps, to get young people into the game. Hicks, and indeed the pros that operate the club today, knew what it could mean in the life of a child. The facilities are excellent, and the coaching top-notch. Some nice extras as well, including video report cards and lunches included in the fees.

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  • 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.

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  • Cedar Springs Camp

    Burlington, Ontario

    Our Take: Cedar Springs Camp

    our take

    Speak with seemingly any parent with experience of the Cedar Springs programs and you’re in for a rave—they are loved, both for the quality and the feel. The facilities are friendly and professional at the same time, with lots of clean lines and inspired design. The feel is casual, aimed at getting kids active, trying new things. Building skills is a part of it, and the coaching is very strong, though the approach is one that realizes that the interest really needs to come first. Kids get their beans out while being exposed to a fairly wide range of sport and fitness. Lunches and snacks are provided, which is a plus to be sure, particularly given that they are made in a professional kitchen where quality and nutrition are stated goals. Programs throughout the shoulder seasons and winter months allow kids a chance to check in throughout the year. All is professionally run and administered. 

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  • 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.

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  • Centennial College Story Arts Centre Summer Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Centennial College Story Arts Centre Summer Camps

    our take

    The Story Arts Centre was launched 1994 to house Centennial College’s School of Communications, Media, Arts and Design. It includes the operations of the faculties of the creative communications programs, including advertising and public relations, digital animation, game design, theatre arts, music, dance performance and the fundamentals of performing arts. That’s a lot, which is what makes the programs so unique. Just as STEM programs seek to blur the lines between siloed science disciplines, the Story Arts Centre seeks to blur the lines between arts and communications disciplines. The point is a good one: whether you’re writing a media release or choreographing, you’re communicating, intending to deliver a range of messages to various audiences. The approach is cutting edge, and the space is as well. When campers arrive they enter an environment unlike any they’ve ever experienced. It’s bursting with interesting work in various styles of display, and populated by people who are passionate to work with others, to be innovative, and to grow together. There’s a lot of learning, but there’s a lot of fun, too, some of which derives simply from the spaces themselves: acting on a professional stage, broadcasting out of a professional radio studio, animating on state of the art digital equipment. For many kids, to say nothing of adults, that can be inspiring. And it is. The camps are expertly managed, run, and staffed. The location on public transit is a plus.
     

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  • Central Montessori Schools

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Central Montessori Schools

    our take

    Since it was founded in 1995, CMS has grown to include five locations in the GTA. The program is founded on the core ideals that Maria Montessori promoted in her work, those of respect, community, purposeful engagement, and self-directed learning. The camps extend that focus into the summer months, offering a breadth of sessions that reflect the approach of the school and the interests of its student population. Balance between learning, challenge and fun is keenly upheld. For students of the school during the fall and winter terms, the summer sessions add a nice continuity to their academic and social experience.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Claremont Nature Centre

    Pickering, Ontario

    Our Take: Claremont Nature Centre

    our take

    The Claremont Nature Centre was founded in 1970, and the main building is, delightfully, a lovingly maintained panabode structure, an example of the architecture of so many camps developed mid-century. Love that, and love the programs too. The camps are opportunities for kids to get outdoors, into nature, and they do it within 160 acres of variable green space. So much of the value of the experience is the experience itself—just getting out there within it, and having a first-hand, expert introduction to all the biology, fun, and adventure of the natural world. The centre is dedicated to stewardship, though they approach it first through joyful engagement. The location, of course, couldn’t be better. Kids experience the natural world through the eyes of expert staff and interpreters, all relatively close to home. Meals and extended care options make it easy for working parents to manage.

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  • 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.

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  • Code-it Hacks

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Code-it Hacks

    our take

    Everything about Code-it Hacks is at the very leading edge of coding and what it can mean in a child’s life. The goal, per founder and director Shirin Merchant, is to bring imagination, creative problem solving, and collaboration to the fore, and seeing coding as a basic literacy facilitating all of that. The gender breakdown of the camps is clear from the get go, in that there isn’t one—boys and girls are equally regarded and equally represented. The addition of Raspberry Pi coding programs hints at a desire to adopt new and emerging tech that underwrites the development of the programs and events. Campers meet and work with industry leaders, providing an introduction to the people behind innovation, and taking the learning out of the classroom and into the real world, granting an experience of the culture of  innovation as it exists in industry. It’s a vibrant approach to STEAM learning, wtih hands-on play as a core component. 

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  • College Bourget Summer Camp

    Rigaud, Quebec

    Our Take: College Bourget Summer Camp

    our take

    Sometimes facilities can be particularly inspiring, and College Bourget is a great example of that. While the buildings and programs have been updated to meet the needs of current students, the buildings and the property also grant a sense of the school’s long history and traditions. Founded in 1850, it’s one of the nations oldest institutions, predating the nation itself. The campus provides first-class learning and activity spaces, but also an introduction to the culture that underwrites the languages of the nation and its culture. Trips into Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto are fun, while also granting a sense of the lived experience of Canada’s two official languages, and a very personal interaction with the people and places that underwrite that experience.

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  • Concordia Camps

    Montreal, Quebec

    Our Take: Concordia Camps

    our take

    Mentorship is a powerful thing, and the Concordia camps make great use of it. Sessions are run by student athletes, people whose passion and skill are apparent from the get-go. They are able to provide an introduction to the skills of sport, but also the culture that underwrites it, and the spirit that guides young people into a passion for sport and active living. The facilities only extend that experience. Campers, whether trying a sport for the first time, or intending to grow specific skills, are given a front-row seat to varsity sport and the school that provides the context for it. Leadership training adds a valuable and welcome dimension to the summer and spring break programs.  

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  • Connections: Queen’s Summer Engineering Academy (QSEA)

    Kingston, Ontario

    Our Take: Connections: Queen’s Summer Engineering Academy (QSEA)

    our take

    For young people with a passion for engineering, attending the Connections sessions has the same gravity as, say, a child who loves basketball attending a week of practices with the Raptors. The setting, the staffing, the resources, the approach—it’s all the real deal, within one of the country’s foremost academic institutions. No punches are pulled, with attention to chemical, civil, electrical and computing, geological, mechanical engineering, and others. It’s not for everyone, to be sure, but, again, for the right child, it’s as exceptional as it is unique. Day and overnight options allow for a wider range of engagement, but the immersive overnight programs are a particular draw. Participants interact with peers of a like mind and academic ability, as well as academics and professionals in the field, all which can be both transformational and inspiring.

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  • COOKSMART

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: COOKSMART

    our take

    The program began in Kathy Stewart’s kitchen, slicing and dicing with her three children. For kids, that’s rightly the fun of cooking—getting your hands onto the stuff, feeling the textures, experiencing the tastes and smells, and producing something they can be proud of. And, indeed, that’s precisely where the COOKSMART programs begin—with hands-on, collaborative, creative fun in the kitchen. Cooking, however, is a window onto other worlds, as it were, from the culture of food, to how and what we eat, including fellowship and healthy habits. Food has a central position in our lives, and while kids perhaps aren’t entirely aware of it at every moment during the sessions, Stewart’s experience as a nutritionist is reflected within them. It’s about having fun, gaining skills and independence, as well as providing an entrée into making more informed, healthier lifestyle choices. All sessions are expertly run in safe, professional cooking environments located across the GTA.
     

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  • Cornell International Summer Debate Camp

    Ithaca, New York(USA)

    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 International Summer Debate Camp is world-class in every way, hosted on the campus of a storied university. It can be an eye-opener in all sorts of ways, particularly through engaging with peers from around the world who all share academic aspirations and the talents and drive to achieve them.

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  • Crescent Camps & Summer Programs

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Crescent Camps & Summer Programs

    our take

    Many independent schools are fortunate to have beautiful grounds, modern and professionally equipped facilities and highly experienced faculty, and that’s particularly true at Crescent. Where many day camps offer robotics, they can’t, for example, also offer theatre arts out of a fully equipped theatre facility, or printmaking out of a fully equipped studio. Crescent can—and does—do all of that and more. There’s also an ease that comes with having it all in one place; while campers have the option of doing ultimate frisbee one week and arts the next, the location allows them and their parents to fall in to some longer-term routines in terms of daily transportation and schedules. (And the fact that lunch is included is, from the parental perspective at least, kind of thrilling.) The camp is close to public transportation as well as a wealth of multi-use green space, including play fields and the ravine that abuts the property. Home to a low-ropes course, the ravine also offers abundant opportunity for exploration and nature study. There are programs here that you won’t find anywhere else, such as Architectural Concepts and Design and Money Matters, a session presenting financial literacy concepts. The Discovery Camp allows fun opportunities for younger campers to explore athletics, arts, makerspace and nature, combining these themes with different activities each week. Most of the programs are led by Crescent faculty who have expertise in their area of athletics, arts, robotics and business. Instructors who are not Crescent faculty have extensive expertise in the program areas, previous camp leadership experience, and are often alumni of the school. Ultimately, there’s a lot to love, particularly for campers who are looking for programming that falls outside the typical day-camp fare.

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  • Crestwood Valley Day Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Crestwood Valley Day Camp

    our take

    Founded in 1990, the Crestwood program has proven itself over nearly three decades. The facilities are exceptional, with a location that offers a rural camp experience in the heart of the city. On site pools, wooded greenspace, and outdoor fire pits add to the traditional camp feel. That said, the indoor facilities are just as complete, drawing nicely on the extensive resources of Crestwood School. Staff is experienced and engaged, with a high staff to camper ratio. It’s not a race, of course, but director Mike Levinsky brings a level and breadth of experience that you simply don’t find in day camping, including a long association with Camp White Pine, having been camper, counsellor, and storied program leader. Overnight options at Camp White Pine and Camp Manitou add even further dimension to the Crestwood offering. Even without those, Crestwood the closest that kids can get to a sleepaway camp experience—in terms of culture and range of activity—without leaving the city. Bussing, hot meals, and snacks, round out an already very attractive package. As far as day camps go, Crestwood truly has it all and then some. 

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  • Debate Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Debate Camp

    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.

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  • DEEP Summer Academy

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: DEEP Summer Academy

    our take

    Some camps are truly one-of-a-kind, and DEEP Summer Academy is one of them. Developed by the outreach office of the department of engineering at the University of Toronto, the intention was to offer an intensive STEM program for university bound kids. The resources on hand are as good as it gets, and there is a keen focus on involving girls within the program, inspiriting them to participate in areas where women remain underrepresented. The programming is advanced and challenging, and students from around the world apply to be accepted to the program. Sessions are taught by faculty of the university, and topics are cutting edge.

Toronto 0
  • Del Active Sports Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Del Active Sports Camp

    our take

    Always a favourite presenter at the annual camp expo, Del Active is a great example of the power of great counselling: put a child in front of them, and they’re away. That said, being hosted on the campus of Del La Salle College, there are extensive resources to work with as well. The school is home to the ice rink where many storied players played (not the least of which being Keanu Reeves). The indoor and outdoor spaces continue the theme—nothing is done by half. The camp’s location, being proximate to public transit, is a plus as well. There is a hockey-intensive session, one which brings campers into the culture of the sport at the school as well as the expertise. Multi-sport sessions keeps kids active, engaged, and largely outside throughout the summer months.

Toronto 0
  • Design Exchange (DX)

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Design Exchange (DX)

    our take

    To say that the Design Exchange (DX) is unique would be a vast understatement. Part museum, part educational institution, part industry crucible, located in the heart of the financial district, within the historic location of the Toronto Stock Exchange—there’s simply nothing like it. It was conceived as means of providing a hub for design professionals highlighting the role of design in culture, industry, and business. In the decades since, it’s done far more, hosting conferences, workshops, seminars, and hundreds of world-class exhibitions. Just travelling to this place, in this location, every day to participate in a camp is part of the experience. Working alongside professional designers is, too. The sessions are the epitome of what we think of as the best of STEM instruction, if not expressed in exactly that way: gathering kids together to pool their talents, working together to solve a range of problems, creatively, enthusiastically, and collaboratively. The themes that the sessions are focussed around are playful, and designed to get kids thinking in new ways about things that are of high interest to them, from fashion design to adventures in augmented reality. Guest speakers and field trips are part of the experience. Staff are keen to keep things fresh, so even the sessions that seem to occur annually are overhauled to ensure that no ground is covered twice. For the right campers—and no doubt there are many of them—the Design Exchange (DX) programs can be transformational.

Toronto 0
  • Digital Media Academy

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Digital Media Academy

    our take

    The activities offered at any camp are important, with those at tech camps perhaps being more applicable to many kids' personal and academic lives than, say, tetherball. That said, all good camps see their activities as less an end in themselves, and more as something for young people to gather together around, to test their abilities and resolve, and to help them to grow into a sense of who they are. In all of those things, Digital Media Academy has the balance absolutely right. The sessions will attract young people who share a vocabulary and a curiosity, and the opportunity to spend protracted time in that milieu is a great benefit in and of itself. The content of the sessions is a-list in every way, though the values that inform them are as well. There is a focus on developing curiosities, collaborative skills, resiliency, empowerment, and passion. Again, the balance is right, with the programs promoting a lot more than skills. The sessions are professionally run, by professional educators. The network of locations, as well as national oversight, allow for a wealth of resources and talent to go around.

Toronto 0
  • Earthbound Kids

    Stouffville, Ontario

    Our Take: Earthbound Kids

    our take

    Earthbound Kids is the brainchild of Carol Norton, a long-time educator and co-founder of All About Kids, now operating locations throughout the GTA. THe camps extend the work of those programs, with the intention of getting kids into nature, and working together around a range of camp tasks. One of the draws for families is that it offers a full range of traditional camp activities, yet within a day camp. There’s a high counsellor-camper ratio, top-notch facilities, as well as strong programming that runs from watching the ants go by, to campcraft, to equestrian programs. Throughout, all the activities are offered to grant children a sense of mastery, to exercise their curiosity, and grow social skills in a natural, play-based setting set apart from the bustle―and the screens―of city life.

Stouffville 0
  • Empowered Girls

    Kitchener, Ontario

    Our Take: Empowered Girls

    our take

    Katie Higginbottom founded Empowered Girls in the understanding that girls are particularly vulnerable to low self-esteem, negative self-talk, bullying, body dysmorphia and anxiety. The program is based in the research she’s done, including that related to the completion of her doctorate on women’s leadership in education. Empowered Girls is based, in large part, in a mentorship model, bringing young people together to work in consort around a range of activity. The activities are there for what they can promote, rather than as ends in themselves, including a positive sense of engagement based in a core set of values. Being part of the group can in itself, be transformative. Higginbottom, for her part, is an excellent mentor, and is herself a primary draw. A philanthropist, she was a finalist in Chatelaine Magazine’s 2011 “Hot 30 under 30: The Next Generation of Leaders.” She has helped develop a Women in Leadership MBA class at Harvard Business School. All of that experience provides the basis for the Empowered Girls programs.

Kitchener 0
  • Encounters with Canada

    Ottawa, Ontario

    Our Take: Encounters with Canada

    our take

    Historica is an independent organization devoted to growing awareness of the history and culture of Canada. The Heritage Minutes—a long-time staple of Canadian classrooms and broadcasting—are the most visible aspect of their work and give a good sense of what the goals are, namely to educate young people through dynamic engagement. There are lots of other programs too of course, of which Encounters with Canada is, in some senses, the most ambitious. The sessions bring young people together from across the country, meeting in Ottawa to learn about our institutions, meet some of the people that drive them, and to share ideas and perspectives. Running since 1982, the alumni include activists, professionals, at least one Rhodes Scholar, and Leona Aglukkaq, who served as minister of  Arts & Culture (2008-2015); Minister of the Environment (2013-2015), Minister for the Arctic Circle (2012-2015), Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (2012-2015); Minister of Health (2008-2013). The sessions are kept intentionally small, with a maximum of 150 participants in each. The experience, for a vast majority, is transformational.

Ottawa 0
  • Engineering For Kids York Region

    Aurora, Ontario

    Our Take: Engineering For Kids York Region

    our take

    Learning is important, but so is fun, and the Engineering for Kids sessions create a nice balance between the two. Activities are high interest, couching STEM concepts within engaging contexts, such as travel to Mars, or survival, or just, well, fun stuff. The camp makes good use of local resources, and the multiple locations are a plus. Campers are given a chance to indulge their interests with others of a like mind, all centered around programming that includes lots of exciting pops and bangs. They learn something, and grow their facility with key curricular concepts, though it’s the fun of the sessions, and the friendships grown there, that they’ll think of first.

Aurora 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
  • ExplorerHop

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: ExplorerHop

    our take

    There is a camp for every interest, and ExplorerHop is proof of the point. It's a family-created, family-run camp aimed at engaging kids around the topics of geography, international travel, and money management. It's perhaps not the most obvious pairing of themes, but it works, particularly given the energy and expertise of the staff. It's a great option for kids who are looking for something a bit different. Like any camp, it also attracts kids of a like interests and passions, allowing them to express them in a group of like-minded peers. Well-concieved, and expertlly run, there's a lot to love at ExplorerHop. 

Toronto 0
  • False Creek Racing Canoe Club

    Vancouver, British Columbia

    Our Take: False Creek Racing Canoe Club

    our take

    There are many unique camps out there, but in so many ways FCRCC proves that point and then some. The summer programs are run as an aspect of the club, founded in 1985, which has as its mission “to offer paddling opportunities to anyone who wishes to achieve excellence through training and racing.” This isn’t casual boating, but rather an opportunity for young people, whether they are new to the sport or are seeking to build existing skills, to engage with a community that is passionate, dedicated, and well-versed in all the values that sport has to offer. That it’s in the heart of the city, and proximate to public transportation, is pretty great, too. The offering is varied, from marathon canoeing to dragon boat racing, and the intention is as well. Achievement is part of it—all kids get a certificate noting the skills they’ve gained—though an introduction to life-long fitness and active living is also a core goal. The experience of simply attending the club can be eye-opening in all kinds of great ways. It feels like taking part in something special, and that’s because it is. The club is run by volunteers on a not-for-profit basis. These are people that love what they do and want to share it with as many people as possible. So much the better.

Vancouver 0
  • Field of Dreams Baseball Camp

    Thornhill, Ontario

    Our Take: Field of Dreams Baseball Camp

    our take

    Field of Dreams provides opportunities for fans of baseball to get involved with the game, build skills, and work alongside like-minded peers and experienced coaches. As with all great camps, it’s about more than just the activities and the skill development. Jennifer Stitt founded the camp to provide an supportive, inclusive environment in which kids can grow into the values that sports can provide: teamwork, confidence, positive mentorship. The camp began in Thornhill and has grown to include locations in Aurora, Vaughan, and Toronto, making it accessible while also building the available infrastructure. Extended drop off and pickup times are a nice touch, as is a whiffle ball program. Various levels provide appropriate settings for this those just starting out, to those looking to build elite skills in an appropriately competitive environment.

Thornhill 0
  • Fire Fly Stables

    Hamilton, Ontario

    Our Take: Fire Fly Stables

    our take

    When we think of camps, we often think of activities and stuff: the things that kids will do and the resources available to help them do them. Fire Fly has all of that, offering riding in a compelling setting. Still, what we don’t think of often enough is the people that kids will come into contact within camp settings. At Fire Fly, that’s Jenn Bruner, owner and head coach. As she notes, the program is a labour of love for the sport, but also for what it can bring to young people. Her life was changed through an opportunity to grow into riding, and that’s something she set out to offer with Fire Fly. The fees are absolutely reasonable, and the environment geared around mentorship, compassion, and personal development. Kids enter a setting populated with coaches and peers of a like mind, of similar passions, and who experience the same challenges and the same joys. That, very rightly, is what draws families here, year after year.

Hamilton 0
  • Focus Learning Academic Centre

    Markham, Ontario

    Our Take: Focus Learning Academic Centre

    our take

    Shelly Zheng founded Focus Learning in 2010 with a group of passionate educators who shared her perspective on teaching and mentorship. The key approach taken is based in the belief that by sparking curiosity around the core content, rather than just disseminating it, teachers can more meaningfully engage students as active, motivated learners. It’s style of learning that posits students as equals, in an environment of equals. Further, it’s not about marks so much as  growing each child's personal relationship with learning. In the years since it began, Focus Learning has grown to comprise a series of afterschool, weekend, and camp programs, offered out of three locations: North York, Don Mills, and Markham. There are courses based in STEM concepts, including robotics and programming, as well as the core curricula, but Zheng was keen also to build out the full range of curricular areas. Some programs, such as BizKids, are unlike any you’ll find elsewhere. All sessions are crafted to offer students opportunities to engage their core talents and interests in an environment that supports and prizes them. Adoption of leading edge programs, such as the Beast Academy math curriculum, is indicative of the desire to continually develop best practices and to use them to full advantage.

Markham 0
  • Fraser Lake Camp

    Bancroft, Ontario

    Our Take: Fraser Lake Camp

    our take

    Fraser Lake began in 1955 as a means of providing kids with an opportunity to get out of the city to experience a different set of priorities and values. Founded by the Danforth Mennonite Church in Toronto, it was an expression of the values of the church, including inclusivity, community, and faith. All of that remains today, and the need for it is greater than ever. The programming reflects all the traditional camp programs, including time spent together on the lake and in the forest. The property is 260 acres, so there is lots of room to roam, and the camp makes great use of that. But, as in that first year, the draw is principally to experience a different pace of life, away from the data smog of our devices, within a community that is focussed on each other, ecology, and physical activity.

Bancroft 0
  • French International Language Camps

    MEGEVE,

    Our Take: French International Language Camps

    our take

    Yes it sounds like a dream—learning French, nestled in the Alps—and for the students that attend, there are no doubt lots of pinch-me moments. That said, there’s more afoot here than glorious vistas and great food (though there are indeed both of those). Students come together with peers from around the world for the purpose of language learning, thought that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They learn about themselves, and their place in the world; they have a first-hand experience of what it means to be a global citizen within a truly global learning environment. Given that French is the one language that all the participants share, there’s an immediacy that comes with using it,  and an imperative not simply to make sure that verbs and subjects agree, but to make yourself understood to others. It’s an adventure, though one that, for many reasons, will have a substantive and lasting effect. An expressed goal of the program is to shape and influence young people to create a better world. Truly, if there's one thing that could do that, it's programs like this one: bringing young people together from disparate cultures to share some time, ideas, and fun. All sessions are impeccably run, out of impeccable facilities in the shadow of Mont Blanc. 
     

MEGEVE 0
  • Gardiner Museum

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Gardiner Museum

    our take

    The Gardiner Museum is one of Toronto’s most unique and engaging cultural gems, founded in 1984 by George and Helen Gardiner as a place to house and share their collection of ceramics. Recent shows mounted here by Yoko Ono and Ai Weiwei have proved that clay is a fascinating and dynamic art form. With extensive renovations and an expansion completed in 2006, the building was brought forward along with the intentions for it. The camps were part of that vision. They are expertly run by passionate instructors who not only know the craft, but can interpret it within its historical and cultural contexts. There is a nice range of session options, including half-day and full-day. Groups are intentionally kept small, with a maximum of 12 in each, and less in the wheel workshops. As such, everyone gets their own space, and maximum time with the materials. The art camp sessions extend the activity beyond clay, which is a nice addition. Younger campers are dropped off, though for the older ones, the TTC stop is literally right outside the door. The setting, frankly, is thrilling, something that adds to the experience. Spending days in a museum of this stature, working with people this engaged, can be transformative in all kinds of meaningful ways.
     

Toronto 0
  • Gee-Gees Sports Camps

    Ottawa, Ontario

    Our Take: Gee-Gees Sports Camps

    our take

    The U of Ottawa team is known as “GG” for garnet and grey, the school colours. The Gee-Gees Sports Camps, hosted here through the summer months, are a direct expression of those programs: expertly run and conducted in a professional, world-class setting. Lunch is in the caf, included in the session fees, and there is an option of daily swimming in the Olympic sized pool. The coaches are hired from the varsity programs, and getting to know them is part of the experience. All skill levels are welcome, including elite athletes intending to develop their skills, to kids who just want to try something new. In all, it’s as inspiring as it is athletically sound.

Ottawa 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
  • Halton Interfaith Peace Camp

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Halton Interfaith Peace Camp

    our take

    We tend to think of camp as one thing: sleepaway, campfires, smores. Of course, there are many different camps, and while fun is an aspect of all of them, there are other purposes as well. The Halton Interfaith Peace Camp, clearly, has a unique and absolutely compelling purpose: gather kids together to have fun while celebrating their differences and understanding their similarities. The camp session offers a unique and valuable perspective on the surrounding community and the campers’ places within it.

Oakville 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 Coding Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Hatch Coding Camps

    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
  • Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp

    New Hamburg, Ontario

    Our Take: Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp

    our take

    Hidden Acres was founded in the early 1960s in a desire to create a values-based setting where both young people and adults can spend some time away from the daily grind, involving themselves in peace and fellowship. They began with tents on what had been a farm property, though it’s grown considerably since then, both in terms of facilities and purpose. The camp programs are the portrait of what traditional camping is all about: time away from the bustle of the world, a place where kids can spend their days in nature, taking part in camp craft, exploration, and outdoor activity. It’s a device-free environment, which, rightly, for many families is a draw. The core values give life to the programs. A special needs session is a highlight, one of the few available to families in this region. Leadership programs, too, offer a nice breadth to the offering.
     

New Hamburg 0
  • HUMBER ARBORETUM NATURE CAMPS

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: HUMBER ARBORETUM NATURE CAMPS

    our take

    Next to the Humber College North Campus, the Humber Arboretum is not only accessible to public transit, it’s also one of the most stunning, if perhaps lesser known, parks in the city. It includes 250 acres of ornamental gardens as well as extensive sections of native Carolinian forest. The Arboretum was established as a joint venture of the City of Toronto, Humber College, and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. It’s also home to the Centre for Urban Ecology, which administers a range of children’s programming throughout the year and, in particular, the summer camp sessions. While the camps are fun—kids walk on logs, look at bugs, and engage with nature—they are also strikingly unique, run by people who are experts and champions of ecology. The arboretum environment buzzes with those kinds of concerns, as well as the people who hold them dear. As such, the learning is overt—kids will leave knowing what an ecosystem is, for example, and the difference between a dicot and a monocot—though they’ll also soak up the values that inform environmental stewardship. So, there’s a lot to love, not the least being an ability to be so engulfed in nature during the day, then being back at home at by dinner time.

Toronto 0
  • Idea Lab Kids Calgary

    Calgary, Alberta

    Our Take: Idea Lab Kids Calgary

    our take

    One of the great things about camp is that it can grant children a broader sense of what they’re capable of, and get them in front of people who demonstrate the full extent of those capabilities. Idea Lab Kids Calgary is a great example of that. It looks like a lot of fun, and it is, but the programs also get kids working together on shared activities and projects that grow a facility with science, design, and engineering. That it’s run by a professional engineer, Anna Antencio, is part of the real substance of those experience. This is someone who knows what she’s doing, and can broadcast a personal passion for the work and for where it can take a young person. While it’s gradually changing, girls tend to be underrepresented in the science disciplines, and both for them and the boys too Antencio serves as a particularly great role model and mentor. Learning is important, thought these programs know that it can take many forms—social, personal, academic—and rightly works to develop all those areas. Three locations in Calgary mean that there’s a lot of access points, as well as a deceptively well-developed administration and resource base, both human and material. That the Idea Labs Kids programs were first developed by another woman in science, Ghazal Qureshi, is kind of nice, too. The Calgary locations were the first in Canada, after first being established in the US, though now has expanded to 87 throughout the world, including those in Ecuador and Lebanon. It’s a unique story, to be sure, and a compelling one.

Calgary 0
  • Idea Lab Kids Oakville

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Idea Lab Kids Oakville

    our take

    One of the great things about camp is that it can grant children a broader sense of what they’re capable of, and get them in front of people who exemplify the full extent of those capabilities. Idea Lab Kids is a great example of that. It looks like a lot of fun, and it is, but the programs also get kids working together on shared activities and projects that grow a facility with science, design, and engineering. That the Idea Labs Kids programs were first developed by a woman in science, Ghazal Qureshi, adds a nice perspective to the venture. While it’s gradually changing, girls tend to be underrepresented in the science disciplines, and both for them and the boys too Qureshi serves as a particularly great role model and mentor, even if she isn’t front and centre in participants minds. Learning is important, thought these programs know that it can take many forms—social, personal, academic—and rightly works to develop all those areas. The Calgary locations were the first in Canada, with Oakville a close second, after first being established in the US. Idea Lab has now expanded to 87 throughout the world, including those in Ecuador and Lebanon. That adds a depth to the programs, with rich human and material resources beyond what you see at first glance. New offerings are developed continually, by a dedicated team tasked to grow the programs while keeping abreast of best practices and emerging technologies.

Oakville 0
  • International Junior Golf Academy

    Bluffton, Florida(USA)

    Our Take: International Junior Golf Academy

    our take

    The IJGA is results oriented, with a staff and a record to prove it. Both day and overnight programs are available from core to elite levels, and the academy partners with a secondary institution, Heritage Academy, allowing students to live, learn, and develop both their academics and their games along with peers of a like mind from around the world. Facilities are extensive and detailed. A counselling office provides academic counselling for students intending to pursue training and academics at post-secondary institutions. There’s a shared love of the game, something that is also fostered here, as well as a proven ability to deliver players to Olympic and professional competition.
     

Bluffton 0
  • InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Big Clear Lake

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Big Clear Lake

    our take

    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. 

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 Circle Square Ranch Spruce Woods

    Austin, Manitoba

    Our Take: InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Spruce Woods

    our take

    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. 

Austin 0
  • InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Wolf Creek

    Wolseley, Saskatchewan

    Our Take: InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Wolf Creek

    our take

    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. 

Wolseley 0
  • InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Alberta

    Sundre, Alberta

    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
  • Jack of Sports

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Jack of Sports

    our take

    Jack of Sports has a very unique offering, not limited to sports, and even the sports aren’t necessarily the ones you’d think of first. There are activities that challenge campers to build their skills—swimming, biking, rock climbing—as well as sessions dedicated to chess, pop music, golf and art. All of that is an expression of founder Larry Tobin’s belief that variety is important, especially when inspiring children to active lifestyles. In all the focus is on skill development, creative engagement, and personal motivation. Locations across the GTA bring the programs to a wider catchment area, while keeping commute times low, which is a nice plus.  
     

Toronto 0
  • Jeanette's Cakes

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Jeanette's Cakes

    our take

    Jeanette Bulger has said that “You are never too young or too old to begin your journey in this wonderful form of art.” There’s a lot in that, both in terms of age, involvement, and how she conceives of baking. She approaches it as an art and anyone who has seen her work can vouch for that—she’s exceptionally skilled, and her cakes are truly works of art. Her location is a professional, working bakery; the facilities are top notch, as is the approach and instruction. Kids who attend the sessions and camps experience that environment first hand and, while there’s a lot fun, there’s the right amount of seriousness as well. The work they see being done there, as well as the perspective that Jeanette brings to it, is inspiring, particularly for young people who share the passion. The skills they learn, too, are of a high level—this isn’t an opportunity for kids just to muck about, but rather to really learn something of the art as well as the science of baking.

Oakville 0
  • Junior Coders

    Brampton, Ontario

    Our Take: Junior Coders

    our take

    For anyone over 30, coding can risk seeming cold, technical, dull, distant. For young people today, it isn’t. Rather it's one of the langauges they'll speak increasingly as they grow. With the right introduction they see coding as a language of personal expression, which is exactly the approach taken at Junior Coders. The tools might be technical, but these sessions encourage students to see that what you do with them doesn’t need to be—they are challenged to approach coding creatively, and to use coding as means of exploring their passions and interests. There is a conscious effort to make girls welcome in the setting, something that Junior Coders has had great success with. The facilities are exceptional, as is the passion that leads the instruction.
     

Brampton 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
  • Kettleby Valley Camp

    Kettleby, Ontario

    Our Take: Kettleby Valley Camp

    our take

    It’s a truism, but worth repeating, that at camp there is more than meets the eye, and Kettleby is a great example of that. It’s a traditional camp, with all the traditional activities, from canoeing, to swimming, to hiking, to arts and crafts. There are some updates, too, including paintball. But, as director Peter Truman says, “all the activities really are a medium for us to help kids understand that trying new things isn’t a big deal.” And with that comes a lot of social, emotional, and physical growth and development, something that the Kettleby program actively brings to the fore. There has been a camp on this site since the late 1950s. The cities to the south have grown, and it’s not as far from the urban environment as it once was, though that brings a nice plus as well: it’s close to home, something that both parents and campers appreciate.

Kettleby 0
  • Kids in the Spotlight

    Alajuela,

    Our Take: Kids in the Spotlight

    our take

    While it’s true that no camp appeals to all campers, KITS is a camp for perhaps more kids than you might initially assume. Dyed in the wool theater kids will of course find a home here, though those who don’t have their hearts set on a career on the stage will as well. Denise Goldbeck founded the camps nearly four decades ago based in her experience within the performing arts, though also based in her experience in the field of developmental psychology. She saw the camps as an opportunity to grow young peoples’ skills, but also as a means for developing resilience, confidence, and interpersonal relationships. The success of the camps over the intervening years has been well demonstrated, with literally thousands of kids attending the programs.

Alajuela 0
  • Kilcoo Camp

    Minden, Ontario

    Our Take: Kilcoo Camp

    our take

    Kilcoo was founded in 1932, and is very much one of the great, classic Canadian camps. It reflects the Taylor Statten ideal, as did so many camps that were founded at the time. There was a nod to first nations culture, with John Lattimer, who took over the camp in 1938, know invariably as “Chief.” (The name of the camp, again like others founded at that time, was a similar nod.) The programs were traditional, based in watersports, canoeing, woods lore, and a boisterous celebration of the camp culture. Leadership has been absolutely consistent, with David Lattimer taking over the directorship from his father in 1985. Campers past and present are absolutely loyal to the camp, in large part due to the consistency of the program leadership down through the decades. They all feel that attending Kilcoo is about more than a summer, it’s a chance to participate in something larger, with a longer arc, and centered around an amiable set of priorities and values. And, indeed, it’s all of that, which is a draw for generations of campers, both locally and from around the world.

Minden 0
  • Kinark Outdoor Centre

    Minden, Ontario

    Our Take: Kinark Outdoor Centre

    our take

    There are lots of great stories in the world of camping in Canada and KOC, frankly, is one of them. It was formed with some very specific goals, one of them being to offer respite to families of children who are on the autism spectrum. It’s been doing that beautifully since it was first opened. It also does what all camps do, which is to offer enriching, empowering, fun experiences to children within a caring, supportive, understanding environment. At Kinark children arrive to a setting that is formed around their needs, and run but staff that are well disposed to meet them. There are all the traditional activities, from gaga ball to canoeing, with barriers to participation removed. The work that the camp does is exceptional, and brings a rich, traditional camp experience to some kids who need it, and love it, yet would have trouble integrating in other camp settings. 

Minden 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
  • La Citadelle Summer Camp

    North York, Ontario

    Our Take: La Citadelle Summer Camp

    our take

    La Citadelle was established in 2000 with just 5 students and operating out of a church basement. The program has grown considerably since then, with an annual enrolment of 200 students spanning prep-K to Grade 12. Further, in 2015 the school moved into a new space, doubling the size of the physical plan and providing an opportunity to grow the student population and its programs significantly. Despite that growth, the approach remains true to the original intentions. Since its inception La Citadelle has been progressive, and while achievement is one of the six core values, so are compassion and harmony. The camps extend the work of the school into the summer months, and make use of the first-rate facilities. They include a nice range of activity, as well as academic support to help support learners, or couteract the academic effects of the summer break. Some families also use the camps to get a better sense of the school, or to acclimate new students, as well they should.

North York 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
  • Laurus Summer Camp

    Montreal, Quebec

    Our Take: Laurus Summer Camp

    our take

    The directors of Laurus are go getters, to be sure, which in itself is part of the program. It’s about mentorship, getting people together who are enthusiastic about living active, engaged lifestyles, and who can broadcast their enthusiasm effectively to young people. Founder Philip Cutler, at age 25, became the youngest councillor ever elected in Westmount, and he hasn’t slowed down since. He and cofounder Gabriel D'Amico-Mazza exemplify what it means to live a life engaged with the community that they live within, from physical fitness to philanthropy. Instructors are chosen with those attributes in mind, including experience in education. The activities are varied and broad, from yoga to guest speakers. Participants come away having had fun, though also jazzed about the entire experience, including the people they’ve met and the environments that they’ve experienced.
     

Montreal 0
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Peel Region

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Learning Disabilities Association of Peel Region

    our take

    As Lilia Mastrocola, the camp director, says, “it’s just camp.” Which is precisely the beauty of it. The program is hosted at Heart Lake Conservation area, with bussing from three locations within the region. Kids attend to have fun out of doors, participating within the full range of camp activities from fishing to soccer, crafts to dance. The one difference is that the campers share a range of learning differences, including dysgraphia, ADD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia. As such, when campers enter this environment, they enter a setting that truly recognizes both their joys and their struggles, one where they feel included and understood. Says Mastrocoloa, they “understand that there are other people out there that experience the same things as them,” a realization that many are making for the for the first time. The Kidz Konnect camps are run by the Learning Disabilities Association of Peel Region, a charitable, non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of young people and adults with learning differences. That can take the form of helping families find various types of therapeutic support, though the camps extend the mandate in some important ways, principally in simply creating a space where young people can grow and have fun together. For many campers, that experience, simple as it may sound, can be a transformative one. 
     

Mississauga 0
  • LIT Education Inc.

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: LIT Education Inc.

    our take

    The location at Yonge and St. Clair couldn’t be better, and is approximate to some of the best private and post-secondary schools in the city or, for that matter, the country. Availability to public transit is also a plus. Staff are highly qualified, and the sessions are dedicated to improving a range of skills, not simply fluency, including test writing, prose writing, conversation, interview skills, and cultural adaptation. The programs are intended to support students who are studying in Canada and looking to gain a place in universities here, and they do so in a highly collaborative, personal way. Students feel that they've found an environment of friends, not simply teachers. The summer sessions offer opportunities to study more intensively, in collaboration with peers, to build facility and confidence with the language.
     

Toronto 0
  • Living Arts Centre Camp Programs

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Living Arts Centre Camp Programs

    our take

    Experience with new materials, for kids, is great, and that’s one aspect of what the Living Arts Centre Camp Programs offer. Working with wood in a fully-stocked workshop, dancing on a purpose built stage—for kids, as for many adults, entering new environments can feel akin to stepping through the looking glass. The other aspect of this offering—learning and working beside dedicated, experienced professionals—for many is the lasting takeaway. Campers may arrive for the programs, but, after, if you ask them what they loved about the experience, more often than not they’ll talk about the people they met, rubbed elbows with, and the inspiration that they took from them. And, at the end of the day, that’s really what the LAC offers: inspiration.

Mississauga 0
  • Lovell International Camps

    Saanen, ---------------

    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.

Saanen 0
  • Lynn-Rose Heights Adventure Quest Camp

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Lynn-Rose Heights Adventure Quest Camp

    our take

    Tara Bullock and Marie Attard established Play and Learn Children’s Centres in Mississauga, offering a preschool with a stimulating academic program. Its child-centred approach to education, and its conviction that all children are capable and enthusiastic learners, solidified its success and grew its reputation. Based on that success, in 1997, Lynn-Rose was established as a primary school (JK to Grade 8) at what is now called its main campus, located on Millcreek Drive in Mississauga with some attractive landscaping and play areas. In the decades since, the program has grown—in now includes three campuses—though the focus has remained, as has the leadership behind it: to offer a child-centred approach to learning and social development. The summer programs extend it through the summer months. Days are active, making good use of the school’s resources as well as local assets. While it may not always be overt, there’s a dedication to an academic foundation, both to help students reach ahead as well as to offset the academic setbacks that can occur with two months away from the classroom.

Mississauga 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
  • Mayfair Clubs

    Markham, Ontario

    Our Take: Mayfair Clubs

    our take

    The Mayfair Clubs are a great example of fun you can take seriously. Camps and sessions are run by certified instructors with a keen interest in ensuring that kids get the right introduction to the sport as well as an active lifestyle. Instructors are also adept at ensuring that kids have a great time, and they do, as foregrounded by some of the session names, especially the younger kids; it's not group swimming lessons, but Splash and Laugh Camp. Those are nice touches that are also a hint at the overall approach. The three locations are a draw, broadening the reach of the camps while also contributing to the breadth of resources and expertise available at all. There’s lots of learning going on, to be sure, but what kids and parents also appreciate is the chance to get some beans out with some like-minded peers. There are sessions through the summer and throughout the year. All is professionally run and operating out of first-rate facilities.

Markham 0
  • MC Day Camp

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: MC Day Camp

    our take

    The facilities at Mentor College are modern and robust, something which contributes to the quality and breadth of offering found at the summer camps. Indeed, there’s truly something for everyone, from cooking classes to coding, hockey to film production. Administration is seasoned and professional, with experience gained over nearly three decades of running summer sessions. Staff are dedicated and vibrant. The addition of holiday sessions is a plus, as is proximity to public transportation.

Mississauga 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 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
  • Meadow Green Summer Camp

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Meadow Green Summer Camp

    our take

    Georganne MacKenzie founded Meadow Green in order to offer an academic program that was both rigorous and inclusive of Christian values. The approach of the school is as consistent as it is committed to addressing the specific needs of each learner, both academic and social. In crafting the curriculum MacKenzie wanted to reflect the academic traditions of strong core language, numeracy, and assessment, while also bringing in modern best practices. The camp programs extend all of that through the summer months, with mornings devoted to academic maintenance and development, and afternoons devoted to activities and trips planned to reflect the week’s theme. All makes use both of the school facilities as well as the resources close to hand, from green space to city attractions.

Mississauga 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
  • Medics Camp

    Newmarket, Ontario

    Our Take: Medics Camp

    our take

    There is truly a camp to meet every interest, and Medics Camp is a great example of that. It was founded by Amanda Farris, who brings a wealth of experience, including some gained at the venerable Johns Hopkins University and medical school in Baltimore, Maryland. Play and roleplay are important aspects of the sessions, with kids diving in to their new identities as practicing physicians. There’s a strong curricular element as well, providing kids with a foundation in the medical arts, sciences, first aid, healthy living, and personal safety. Staff are vibrant and attuned to creating an interactive inspiring atmosphere. Before and after care is offered at all three locations, something which families understandably appreciate.

Newmarket 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
  • Models International Management

    Ottawa, Ontario

    Our Take: Models International Management

    our take

    MIM offers a unique opportunity for kids to really get involved in a passion for fashion, modeling, and all that’s included within that, from photography to fitness. There’s a nice range of activities, as well as that associated with personal health and wellness. The goal of the camp, as with any camp, is to bring young people together around their core interests and allowing them space to grow into their sense of their talents, abilities, and passions. Self-esteem and confidence are goals as well, something that rightly is a major draw to these programs.

Ottawa 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
  • Muskoka Woods

    Rosseau, Ontario

    Our Take: Muskoka Woods

    our take

    Located in the heart of cottage country, the vast offering of activities, and sparkling facilities, are what attract families and delight campers. There are all the traditional camp activities, though there a host of others in addition, from axe throwing to radio production. It’s a lot, to be sure, and some campers might feel a bit overwhelmed deciding what they want to do on any given day. That said, the camp has a reputation for delivering a stellar experience, something it is uniquely able to do. Buildings are modern, and staff are engaged and supportive. Day programs are of interest to families with cottages nearby, and specialty weeks, including girls’ only sessions, are varied and appealing.  

Rosseau 0
  • MWS Montreal Language Camps

    Montreal, Quebec

    Our Take: MWS Montreal Language Camps

    our take

    Storied, old, beautiful—environment is important, and McGill, unquestionably, sets the right tone in the heart of Montreal. The MWS Montreal Language Camps are intensive language immersion programs, picking up where other immersion programs fall short, adding cultural immersion as well. Yeats said that education shouldn’t be about filling a bucket, but lighting a fire. In terms of language learning, as well as independence and personal development, that’s what MWS does.

Montreal 0
  • National Yacht Club Sailing Camp and School

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: National Yacht Club Sailing Camp and School

    our take

    The NYC was founded in 1894, and was first know, charmingly, the National Yacht and Skiff Club. It’s grown and changed over the years, but throughout has remained a cornerstone of sailing in the city. The location, to be sure, is one of the benefits—accessible by public transportation, it’s also a place of escape, a chance to get away from the bustle of the city and mess about in boats. The club remains an expression of the community it serves, and is also host to a number of annual regattas. When campers arrive, they enter that world—the culture of sailing, the community it represents—and are granted an opportunity to escape within it while also learning essential skills from some of the best. Certified instructors make it fun, active, and exciting, all within the shadow of the Toronto skyline.

Toronto 0
  • Neilson Park Creative Centre

    Etobicoke, Ontario

    Our Take: Neilson Park Creative Centre

    our take

    Neilson Park Creative Centre was founded as a centre for the arts, one that could supply spaces for a range of users, from professional artists to those seeking to try something new. It provides a hub for people to come together around the arts, and the summer camps are an important part of that environment. When kids arrive to the camps, they enter a place that includes them, though which they understand is for lots of other people too. They engage in active programs with peers and mentors, though they also see so many others doing the same thing, and the cross-pollination of it all is one of the things that makes the offering so unique and valuable. Kids will learn new things, and have fun, while being afforded a wider view of what it means to be involved in the arts.

Etobicoke 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
  • North Toronto Soccer Club

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: North Toronto Soccer Club

    our take

    Founded in 1980, the North Toronto Soccer Club has a long history of offering high level training, coaching, and instruction. There is attention to all levels of player, from entry to elite, and there’s an appropriate context of professionalism to it all. Players are coached to build skills, in turn developing as players as well as people. The intention is for participants to grow into a love of the sport, an appreciation of maintaining an active lifestyle, and to build confidence, self-respect, and to contribute effectively within a team environment. The club itself is a hub of the greater sporting community, giving participants a first-hand experience with the people and events that comprise it. That experience, in and of itself, can be transformational, allowing kids to access their potentials within a community that recognizes and appreciates them.

Toronto 0
  • Northwaters & Langskib Canoe Tripping Programs

    Temagami, Ontario

    Our Take: Northwaters & Langskib Canoe Tripping Programs

    our take

    They’ve been running trips successfully, impressively, since 1971 when Langskib, the boys’ program, was founded. Northwaters, the girls’ program, has been run since 1985. Of course, the mission and approach is the same for both, namely to get kids out of their comfort zones, while remaining very much in their safety zones. The challenge is personal, and comes from interacting meaningfully with others around some core challenges. The trips are an opportunity to get beyond screens, fully immersed in the natural world. Participants are granted an entrée, as well, into the culture and natural history of the region from people who have lived it, and represent it. For a majority, the trips are transformative, often in unexpected ways.

Temagami 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
  • Pedalheads Bike, Swim and Sport

    Vancouver, British Columbia

    Our Take: Pedalheads Bike, Swim and Sport

    our take

    Pedalheads began more than three decades ago as principally a biking program. Kids came, learned to ride bikes, and then rode them, together, all over the place. That has continued to this day, though the organization has grown during the intervening years in every way possible: size, numbers, locations, levels, and programs. There are now 75 locations in 4 provinces and 4 US states.  There’s good reason for that kind of growth: these are quality programs run expertly, with great care. It’s also due to the focus of the programs—it’s not about training for the Olympics, rather the focus is first on having fun, together with peers and mentors, and growing into active, healthy lifestyles. Kids feel less of a pressure to excel, perhaps as they would in a typical dance studio or gymnastics gym. Without the pressure of those kinds of goals, at least occupying such a central place in the culture of the camps, kids are free to develop skills, yes, but with fun, active engagement, and personal development as the true measures of success. In that, for many families inundated with so many competitive options, Pedalheads is a very welcome breath of fresh air. That isn’t to say there isn’t ample opportunity for skill development—there is—but it’s all within a charming context of, first, just getting out there and doing it. It’s about lighting a fire, before anything else, inspiring kids toward living actively.

Vancouver 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
  • Power4Teens

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Power4Teens

    our take

    In a sense, Power4Teens distills the most important aspects of any camp experience, which is to instill confidence, build self-esteem, and self-awareness. The program was founded in 2011 in the belief that all success begins with finding a place of peace, a grounding in a shared community of support, and then building out from there. In the years since, the program has understandably garnered a lot of fans. When so many kids' activities seem to be focused on competition, it’s a breath fresh air. The activities are nicely varied, with the main thrust being active engaged living. Sessions are augmented with discussions around assertiveness, effective leadership, and working empathetically with others. It’s a unique mix, to be sure, and a very effective one, expertly delivered. Sessions, including those for area PA days, allow girls to check in throughout the school year, with summer programs anchoring the year.

Toronto 0
  • Prestige School Summer Programme

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Prestige School Summer Programme

    our take

    The Prestige School sets a high bar for its students, academically as well as socially and ethically. The academic program is designed and delivered to meet the needs of students functioning at the top of their peer groups. The bar they set for the summer program is high, too, if in different ways. It’s meant to offer experiences that are fun, first, though also intellectually enriching, social, and active. The camp uses the resources of the school campus as a starting point, though also makes good use of various resources nearby. That breakfast and lunch is included is a very nice plus as well.

Toronto 0
  • PSB & Interplay Dance

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: PSB & Interplay Dance

    our take

    Karen Davies Thomas founded the school in 1989, and she continues to lead the programs today. She brings extensive professional experience, having worked closely with industry professionals, as well as a teaching experience that runs the gamut of the best schools in the GTA and beyond, both at the secondary and post-secondary levels. That she has that kind of background is a draw, to be sure, for students and families looking for a program that has a relationship with the national culture of dance and the arts. For students, Thomas’ experience is a window onto a big world, and can provide an important introduction to it. Classical ballet is a focus, though classes are offered in the full spectrum of styles, from tap to acro. Both competitive and recreational classes are offered, and in both there is a grounding in the core values of learning, discipline, and well-being.

Toronto 0
  • Ranch Massawippi

    Roxton Pond, Quebec

    Our Take: Ranch Massawippi

    our take

    The facilities at Ranch Massawippi are in themselves a draw―there is a consistent, well-tended, feel to all the program areas, from the stables, that are spotless, to the wilderness program areas. This is a place where both kids and horses can be happy, which is important, to be sure. The programs are expertly run, and well-staffed. A draw for many families is the immersion in the French language, and campers have no choice but to build their language skills, and they do, often to remarkable levels given their relatively short time at camp. The month-long sessions are of particular interest to teens who wish to improve their French in order to improve academic standing or to study abroad. Academic interests aside, it’s a very strong, well developed camp that offers a unique suite of activities in a traditional camp setting.

Roxton Pond 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
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada Day Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada Day Camps

    our take

    Everything about Ripley’s Aquarium is world class, and the camps and programs are no exception. They are expertly run, with ample administration and support. The educational programs are sound, and the presentation vibrant and varied. Campers participate in the life of the aquarium, getting behind the scenes to get a sense of how it’s run, and what the animals within it require to stay happy and healthy. Days include a range of activity and, rightly, some time outside at least once every day. School break camps augment the summer programming, allowing opportunities for kids to check in from time to time. It’s a riveting environment, and the programs make great use of all of it.

Toronto 0
  • Rooks to Cooks

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Rooks to Cooks

    our take

    Lead by a professional chef in a professional kitchen, for kids with an interest in cooking Rooks to Cooks is a opportunity to be immersed in the techniques as well as the culture of cuisine. Camps stress the essentials, including navigating any kitchen safely and effectively, as well having fun, eating well, being creative, and working well with others. Sessions are nicely varied to drill down on specific skills and skill levels, from baking to international flavours, from tyro to master. Sessions are developed to appeal to growing palettes, nutritionally and culturally. As founder Chef Shai Mandel rightly notes, cooking is about much more than making good food. It requires a sense of materials, chemistry, organization, and managing complex steps and procedures. That perspective, and Shai’s ability to bring it to the fore is a strength of the Rooks to Cooks programs.

Toronto 0
  • Ross Creek Centre for the Arts

    Canning, Nova Scotia

    Our Take: Ross Creek Centre for the Arts

    our take

    One of the great things that many camps offer is a chance to live within, in a sense, a new reality. When campers arrive at Ross Creek they enter a professional environment, and work alongside theatre professionals. For young people interested in the arts, particularly the performing arts, that experience alone can be transformative. That the setting is so beautiful, to say nothing of state of the art, only furthers the theme. The sessions here are a one-of-a-kind experience in a one-of-a kind setting, run by people who are passionate about their art. In all of that, there's a lot to love. And that's just the beginning. 

Canning 0
  • Rotherglen Summer Camp

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: Rotherglen Summer Camp

    our take

    Rotherglen School was founded in 1979 by Marie Laningan at the Erin Mills campus. The school has grown in the intervening years to include four locations, all of which share the same approach, including the Oakville location which hosts the camps. While aesthetics don’t mean everything, they nevertheless do mean something, and the school is physically beautiful, with dedicated, consistent, absolutely up-to-date learning and activity spaces. The camp programs make use of the school’s extensive resources and range considerably from performing arts, to cooking, to the more traditional day-camp offerings. Sessions are purposefully kept small, which is rightly a draw.

Oakville 0
  • Royal Canadian Yacht Club

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Royal Canadian Yacht Club

    our take

    The Toronto Islands, apart from being close by, are endlessly fascinating. That they even exist—a natural setting with one of the best views of the Toronto skyline—is fantastic in and of itself. The Royal Canadian Yacht Club, one of the premiere, oldest, and most traditional clubs of its kind in the country, is a jewel in the crown. Just going there—setting out by ferry each day of a camp session—is, quite rightly, for many kids part of the thrill. To engage within the club environment just continues a theme. It's a unique, stellar opportunity to work with others improving skills, indulging passions, and engaging people of like interest, taste, and outlook. For the right child, each day of a camp session at the RCYC is full of pinch-me moments: great instruction, great views, and lasting memories. 

Toronto 0
  • Royal Conservatory School

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Royal Conservatory School

    our take

    For many there's a sense of awe when they enter the Royal Conservatory, and, well, rightly so. It's the premier music school in Canada, and can feel like ground zero in music education which, in many senses, it actually is. So many great artists have learned and taught here, something that can make it all seem more than a bit intimidating. The camps, though, turn that all on its head. There are sessions for experienced musicians to work together with others of equal talent, but the program is about more than that. It's about having a significant, fun experience with music. Sessions are available for all levels of musician, including those who are just starting out. There are opportunities to hear instruments, and touch them, and learn about what they can do. The fact that there are professionals coming in and out of the building, and working in the practice halls, augments the experience of the environment. For many, it's magical. For all, it's a unique experience, one that will generate lots of great memories and, more often than not, some new friends, too. 

Toronto 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 crafted around a specific theme. Simply attending 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
  • Ryde Lake Camp

    Gravenhurst, Ontario

    Our Take: Ryde Lake Camp

    our take

    Ryde Lake was formed in 1952 to provide all the benefits of a traditional camp setting, and it’s been happily doing that ever since. The sunsets are as important as the leadership training—the environment has been developed as one in which girls can step away from the stresses and demands of their daily lives and, for a period of time, live within a different set of priorities. That's something perhaps even more beneficial to girls today than it was all those years ago when the camp program was first created. It’s a place where they can be present to nature, and present to one another, and relax into a slower, more deliberate pace of life. The staff-to-camper ratio is low, and the staff return rate is very high, both things that suggest the quality of the experience and the environment.
     

Gravenhurst 0
  • Ryerson Performance Youth and Community Programs

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Ryerson Performance Youth and Community Programs

    our take

    The location couldn’t be better, and that’s true for the facilities as well. Drama, to some extent, is about dreaming, and having the use of professional theatre spaces only enhances that. Further, the staff is expert, as is the administration, allowing for high-quality instruction and productions. The levelling allows kids to get used to the idea of being on stage, and then grow into an appreciation what they can bring to it. The location and program support, too, contribute to a very professional package that, is, understandably, very highly regarded.

Toronto 0
  • Ryerson Summer Day Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Ryerson Summer Day Camps

    our take

    There are some distinct benefits to camps run, as this one is, by a world-class educational institution. The resources are rich and ample in ways that, understandably, other kinds of camps could never replicate. Science sessions are held in world-class, fully equipped lab settings; sports are conducted in professional-grade facilities. That's true of all offerings, which are varied and unique. There are News Academy camps, where kids learn about journalism while participating within a professional news gathering and broadcasting setting. There’s a bit of imagination to it all—kids who dream of being on camera news readers, for example, will be living the dream—but not much, given that, well, it’s all real and it’s all happening, with real equipment. For the right kids, it's literally a dream come true. Less obvious at first glance, but equally true, is that camps are run by staff who are at the same level, and who are themselves looking to careers in the areas that they teach within, if not having already achieved that. The location is a draw, to be sure, in the heart of the city and easily accessible by public transit. The camps have been run since 1984, and are administered with expertise and experience.

Toronto 0
  • Scarborough Bluffs Tennis Club

    Scarborough, Ontario

    Our Take: Scarborough Bluffs Tennis Club

    our take

    Scarborough Bluffs Tennis Club is in many ways the definition of a community-based organization. The club began, in a sense, before it was even a club, with a number of neighbourhood women meeting regularly to play on two municipal clay courts. That was in 1949, and the women—known as the Bluffers—then started the club proper in 1951. Ever since it’s been a meeting place, and that’s what it is today. Members come from the local community, many of them excelling at the game. That environment, though, is as important as the game—it’s a place full of familiar faces, shared interests, and shared values. The camp is a natural and welcome extension of that. When kids arrive, they enter a community that is organized on a more human scale than the bustle of the city. They learn skills, yes, but they also have fun and become part of something, which in itself can make a child’s summer.

Scarborough 0
  • Science North Camps

    Sudbury, Ontario

    Our Take: Science North Camps

    our take

    We think of camp as a place, though it isn’t really, it’s an experience, one of getting together around some shared values, shared curiosities, and a bunch of fun. And, the Science North camps are all of that. The camps are expertly run in part because, given their reach and scope, they have to be. Each year the camps, with both French and English sessions, attract in excess of 3000 young people in locations from Kenora to Pembroke in the east and Sioux Lookout to Barrie in the south. It’s a huge catchment, with all programs doing the same thing: getting kids together and engaged around some key concepts in science. Instruction is informed and adept; it’s real science, and a lot of fun, too.

Sudbury 0
  • Seneca College King Day Camp

    King City, Ontario

    Our Take: Seneca College King Day Camp

    our take

    King Day Camp is located at Seneca College, King Campus in King City, Ontario, within the Oak Ridges Moraine. The location, frankly, couldn’t be better. The camp rightly describes it as a “taste of the north in your own backyard,” and they’re not kidding—in so many ways it really is. The site includes wetland, a lake, extensive forest and an equally extensive trail network. The resources available there are vast, including indoor spaces, a swimming pool, mountain bikes, and world-class high- and low-ropes facilities. It literally has all the amenities that you might find in the best equipped overnight camps, though offering it all to day campers. The staff is large and experienced. There’s a lot to love, to be sure, in what is a very unique offering.

King City 0
  • Shadow Lake Centre

    Stouffville, Ontario

    Our Take: Shadow Lake Centre

    our take

    The Shadow Lake Centre was established by Community Living Toronto in 1970 and has grown considerably since then. Through the 1980s and 1990s the completion of two major capital campaigns resulted in year-round facilities and programs. The motto of Community Living is “A society where everyone belongs. A society where everyone is valued.” In so many ways, the centre is the physical embodiment of precisely that. Campers arrive to a setting in which their challenges are addressed with empathy, understanding, and experience. They also enter a community of true peers. For anyone, that can be life altering—we all want to go where everyone knows our name, to be sure, and even better if they share our perspectives, challenges, and joys. The setting is well appointed, situated on a 300-acre property within the Oak Ridges Moraine. The staffing is well trained, and there’s a very high camper-to-staff ratio. There’s at least one staff member awake in each cabin through the night, which rightly adds to the sense of care and comfort all round. Health care workers are also on site.

Stouffville 0
  • Sidney Ledson Institute

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Sidney Ledson Institute

    our take

    The Sidney Ledson Institute was founded in 1982 in order to create a program that reflected the work of Sidney Ledson, an author and expert on topics relating to teaching technology and motivation. His methods gained traction internationally, at the core of which is the idea that we needn’t wait to introduce children to new skill areas, particularly around language and numeracy, and the sooner we start, the better. The approach in the school program is to challenge students to reach further, to expand and improve their abilities in order to reach their fullest academic potentials. The summer and March break programs extend that approach, including academic support and physical activity. All is expertly run, and the resources varied and ample.

Toronto 0
  • Snapology of Halton-Mississauga

    Milton, Ontario

    Our Take: Snapology of Halton-Mississauga

    our take

    STEAM camps nicely blur the lines between play and learning, and the Snapology programs are a great example of that. Kids see Lego, or robots, though the programs are built in order to stretch their understanding of programming, creative problem solving, and design concepts. It’s a good mix, and often kids aren’t aware of the academic underpinnings. Sessions are active, hands-on, and there’s a nice breadth of offering, from coding robots, to film-making and stop-motion animation.

Milton 0
  • Spirit of Math

    Richmond Hill, Ontario

    Our Take: Spirit of Math

    our take

    Founded in 1980, the Spirit of Math program has a long and impressive history of success. From the spark of an idea, it’s grown to 43 locations and more than 6000 students. The sessions are vibrant and active, and motivate kids through competition and fun. The sequential curriculum is a draw, to be sure, in that it focusses on fluency and mastery in ways that spiral curricula, unfortunately, don’t. The leadership of the program has been the definition of consistent, with a third generation of the founding family now moving into leadership roles. In the world of academic programming, Spirit of Math is a touchstone, one that other programs rightly look to as a model.

Richmond Hill 0
  • Sports Camps Canada

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Sports Camps Canada

    our take

    The association with Nike is, rightly, a draw for both participants and coaches to the SCC programs. The focus is on skill development in hockey, soccer, basketball, golf, tennis, and training. The programs are run out of dozens of sports facilities, making the most of the best local resources, including expertise and experience. Campers enter an environment of shared interest, learning from mentors who have reached, literally, the top of their games. As such, the camps offer a chance to enter the culture of the various sports as they exist in Canada. The Nike swoosh adds a nice touch as well—kids feel that they are close to the core of the sports, and indeed they are. After all, the dream of success is part of the thrill of participation.

Toronto 0
  • Stanstead College Summer Camps

    Stanstead, Quebec

    Our Take: Stanstead College Summer Camps

    our take

    Stanstead College will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2022, as such it’s one of the oldest, most established and celebrated private schools in the country. The summer programs aren’t as long lived, but, now more than three decades out, they are as established in the world of camping as the school is in the world of education. The language camps draw students from around the world to attend immersive French, Spanish, and English programs. The hockey camps, run here since the 1970s are as good as it gets, with a wonderful focus on female athletes. The Capstone Project Internship offers one of the most unique academic summer programs anywhere, bringing students together around academic, project-based learning. In all, Stanstead has crafted world-class summer sessions that reflect the school’s strengths while extending through the summer months. All are held on campus making the most of the stellar resources there, including accommodation, teaching and coaching spaces, faculty and administration.
     

Stanstead 0
  • STEAMlabs

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: STEAMlabs

    our take

    STEAMLabs cofounder, Andy Forest, lists his role as Chief Instigator, which is a nice nod to the nature of the environment. There’s a lovely irreverence to the entire project of learning, not unlike that of Bill Nye, that allows for a whole-hearted, full throated investigation of the world, and science, and ourselves. Begun as a Tinkerer’s Club, the program has grown to occupy a dedicated space beautifully created to reflect the approach. When kids arrive, they know they are in a different kind of space, one that is centred around a specific set of priorities. It’s the definition of what a makerspace should be, namely where the tools are many and up-to-date, yet are there to serve curiosity, to allow kids to follow their muses. It’s engaging to say the least. Of the things that families look for in kids programs, STEAMLabs enthusiastically checks them all: fun, cooperative, social, substantial, empowering, educational. In the heart of the Danforth, it’s also accessible by public transit. Nice.

Toronto 0
  • STEM Camp

    Embro, Ontario

    Our Take: STEM Camp

    our take

    The simplest definition of STEM is that it’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But, as with so many things, the simplest definition doesn’t really do the object justice. The acronym really does refer to those disciplines, but STEM instruction is about much more, namely using those disciplines as a foundation for building a range of literacies while engaging collaboratively and thinking creatively. While we tend to think first of the stuff—the 3D printers and the makerspaces—STEM is more accurately thought of as a way of learning about the world, and of learning to work effectively with others. That’s what inspires passion in instructors, just as it did for STEM Camp founder, Kevin Cougler, who started the camps in 2013. To say that it’s been successful is an understatement. The camps are now run in nearing 50 locations, with 20 more likely soon to follow. In 2017, there were 8500 campers enrolled, and certainly that number has continued to grow in the summers since. What makes this program particularly unique is that it’s run as a not-for-profit solely to promote the benefits of STEM instruction in the lives of young people. There are francophone projects, as well as those mounted in First Nations communities. For all involved, the participants get to work hands-on, with their peers, on projects that are fun while also developing core learning and collaboration skills.

Embro 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
  • Studio PAVAS

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Studio PAVAS

    our take

    Now into its third decade, Studio Pavas has an impressive history of offering high-quality arts programs. The environment is very much that of a arts institution, where kids enter an environment that is well-equipped and staffed, but also reflects the culture of the arts. The programs are as strong as they are varied, staffed by instructors who are all very impressively qualified. They are able to communicate their passion, as well as provide a window on the wider world of professional arts, dance, and performance.

Mississauga 0
  • Summer Youth Programming at the Daniels Faculty

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Summer Youth Programming at the Daniels Faculty

    our take

    The building, newly built at the Spadina Crescent, is itself worth the cost of entry—it’s the latest home for the University of Toronto’s school of architecture, landscape, and design, one of the leading schools of urban design in Canada. It’s a hub of art, design, and community-building, hosting a range of programs and learners, from professional think tanks, to graduate studies, to undergraduate programs that use architectural studies as a means of augmenting a liberal arts-based education. The mandate is to provide research, teaching, and service. The camps are part of the overall project as well, bringing young people into this setting to explore the people, the environments, and the work done here. At the camp sessions, students engage in collaboration with peers to explore, well, just amazing stuff, such as the theme for the 2019 camps: how drones can disrupt aspects of city life. Programs for high school students offer opportunities to explore careers in design, while being exposed to a wealth of new ideas and cross-disciplinary thinking. The potential for these experiences to be transformative is very high. Barring that, they are simply a great way to spend some time with others. All is seamlessly administered and managed, staffed by instructors and mentors who are passionately involved in their fields of interest, and keen to express their enthusiasm for the work.
     

Toronto 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 of Mississauga Centre

    Mississauga, Ontario

    Our Take: Sylvan Learning of Mississauga Centre

    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
  • Tamarack West Summer Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Tamarack West Summer Camp

    our take

    The Tamarack West Outdoor School was founded to provide outdoor experiential learning based in the values of appreciation, mentorship, exploration, and stewardship. The camps extend that dedication through the summer months. On the face of it, it’s a traditional approach to camping—getting kids out into the world, exploring nature with bug nets, magnifying glasses, notebooks and art supplies. And, frankly, that’s precisely the draw for the families that turn to Tamarack West. It’s based in the understanding that getting into nature, and to share that experience, is the best kind of adventure. The values expressed within the programming, including those of compassion and positive mentorship, are rightly also a draw.

Toronto 0
  • Teen Makeup Camps at George Brown College

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Teen Makeup Camps at George Brown College

    our take

    From glam to character creation, the George Brown makeup camps offer a unique program in an exceptional setting. The glam sessions are an opportunity to make people look great, and the special effects—with instruction in creating lifelike abrasions, cuts, bruises, and black eyes—well, the opposite. From soup to nuts, the environment is professional, and home to professionals who are as passionate about the art as they are experienced within it. Location is a plus, with access to public transit. The camps allow participants a chance to spread their wings while to experiencing something new, or digging deep into an area of personal passion.

Toronto 0
  • The Cube STEM Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: The Cube STEM Camps

    our take

    Many camps don’t conform to some of the common ideas of what camp is, and The Cube is an example of that. The focus is technology, not canoeing or camp craft,  yet the goals of the camp are strikingly similar to those of more traditional programs: they are tools used to bring campers together around common interests and creating opportunities to work and grow together. For the campers, it’s a unique opportunity to work with others of like talents and passions, and to really indulge their curiosities in an engaging setting. It’s perhaps not for every child, but then again, no camp is. Campers finish the sessions with greater confidence, having learned something about themselves. Which, of course, is what all great camps share.  

Toronto 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 Hollows Camp

    Bradford, Ontario

    Our Take: The Hollows Camp

    our take

    The Hollows is a traditional camp with all of the traditional activities on offer, from watersports to adventure, to mindfulness training. The property is a draw, comprising 87 acres of green space. The size of the camper population is as well, which is limited to 70 participants. It’s a unique combination, allowing for a very personal relationship with the camp and the other campers, and a clear sense of inclusion. Founders Stephen and Janet Fine continue to run the camp, as they have done for nearly four decades. They bring a dedication to promoting healthy, active living, and developing strong social bonds.

Bradford 0
  • The STEAM Project Summer Camp

    Richmond Hill, Ontario

    Our Take: The STEAM Project Summer Camp

    our take

    It’s easy to think about STEAM instruction through the stuff—the 3D printers, the robotics, the makerspaces—though it’s as much, if not more, about people. The first three people in this particular environment were three teachers who wanted to spend their summers having fun while helping kids have fun learning about their world and their talents. Jay Wengle, one of them, brings an infectious energy to the work at hand, which is working with others to explore new concepts and apply them to new ideas. Communication and teamwork is part of it, as is learning to express yourself to others as much as you listen to what they have to say. The stuff, at the end of the day, is great—the kids solve problems, together, in unique ways—but it’s the relationships, and a way of being in the world, that is the biggest takeaway. These sessions are expertly, professionally run, and are supported through a wide array of resources. The camp, thanks to the personality and passion of the founders, is an expression of the wider community, with lots of diverse partners choosing to take part, including local schools, merchants, and the curling club. Session themes keep things fresh for returning campers. Enrollment is intentionally kept small to maintain the quality of the interactions. In every way, there's a lot to love. 
     

Richmond Hill 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
  • The Whale Camp

    Grand Manan, New Brunswick

    Our Take: The Whale Camp

    our take

    Some camps just capture the imagination, and this is one of them. Go to New Brunswick to live with like-minded people, learning from experts, and having daily, face-to-face experiences with some of the most majestic, inspiring animals on the planet. Who wouldn’t love that? Amy Lorenz and Cailin Burmaster lead Whale Camp’s educational program, and both bring armloads of academic expertise and insight, as well as a wealth of experience leading field research and educational programs. Lorenz’s master’s research focused on creating opportunities to engage students in science. Burmaster has done extensive fieldwork in marine biology and oceanography. It’s the real deal, from top to bottom. Kids who attend the camp get to experience the world, and whales, and they do that aboard a working research vessel, participating in data collection and analysis. That said, working alongside people who are so engaged in curiosity, science, and dedication can be as inspiring as it is life changing. Yes, there are whales, but camp is about relationships, something that Whale Camp offers in abundance.

Grand Manan 0
  • The Wylde Swan

    Makkum, Other

    Our Take: The Wylde Swan

    our take

    One of a kind, experience of a lifetime, dream come true—the Wylde Swan is certainly all of that. Sailing Europe on a tall ship with like-minded peers from around the world and a world-class crew. It’s as good as it sounds. The administration of the Wylde Swan is world class, as are the amenities on board. It’s challenging. Participants join the crew, and are responsible for all the functions of the ship, from trimming the sails to swabbing the decks. That said, the program is centered around the soft skills as well, namely working as part of a team, giving of yourself while also providing space for others to give of themselves. It’s a chance to see a part of the world from a unique vantage point while, even better, growing into a sense of your place within it.

Makkum 0
  • The-Cutting Room

    Vancouver, British Columbia

    Our Take: The-Cutting Room

    our take

    Nothing exists in a vacuum, and the approach of The-Cutting Room summer programs begin from that perspective. Kids gain experience with designing and creating garments, though they also interact meaningfully with the others who use this space, including industry professionals. Visits by designers, as well as occasional trips to studios within the city, offer a view onto the culture of the industry, and real-world settings and challenges. For the aspiring fashion designer, it’s a unique, valuable, and often uniquely inspiring opportunity.

Vancouver 0
  • Timberline Ranch

    Maple Ridge, British Columbia

    Our Take: Timberline Ranch

    our take

    In the foothills of Golden Ears Mountain, Timberline Ranch was founded in the 1960s as a retreat from city life. Horseback riding is a primary focus, though the activities have been developed over the years, as has the facility, creating a unique sense of place based in a promotion of gospel values. Leadership has been consistent over the years, as has an ongoing dedication to using the programs as a means of promoting physical, emotional and spiritual health. Year-round programs, including seasonal and family camps can provide an entrée to the programs, which, through the summer months, include both overnight and day options. The Country Christmas program is a highlight, one that makes great use of the environment and themed facilities.

Maple Ridge 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
  • Toronto Kyokushinkai Karate

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Toronto Kyokushinkai Karate

    our take

    The program is based in values as much as defence, if not more so, including self-awareness, personal development, discipline and perseverance. There’s a sense of belonging, too, that comes with participation in the programs, something that Toronto Kyokushinkai Karate rightly makes a point of capitalizing on. There’s a good flexibility to the program, with sessions offered all year long, including PA days and holidays. In that, as well as in the pick-ups from area schools, TKK operates with the parent perspective firmly in mind. Pricing is efficient and attractive, based in time spent within the facility and camp session rates rather than monthly fees. The camp sessions make good use of local resources, getting kids outside around a range of activities.
     

Toronto 0
  • Toronto Zoo - Zoo Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Toronto Zoo - Zoo Camp

    our take

    The Toronto Zoo is of course a world class destination, one that is all kinds of fun in and of itself. The joy of the camp sessions, for many kids, is a chance to engage further, and to step a bit behind the curtain. The overnight sessions only extend that sense further. Kids interact with the animals, staff, and peers in a stellar environment, engaging with animals but also with a range of concepts, from empathy to natural diversity, to conservation. For some kids it's a chance to test-drive a range of academic interests. For all kids, it's just a lot of fun that they won't forget anytime soon. 

Toronto 0
  • Toronto Zoo Serengeti Bush Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Toronto Zoo Serengeti Bush Camp

    our take

    This is one of those programs that just packs a lot of wow, both in terms of what it is and how it is offered. Kids attend a night in the African Serengeti area of the Toronto Zoo with a parent, making it a wholly unique shared experience. Participants stay in tents actually sourced in Kenya—they are truly the very same model of tent that naturalists use when trekking out on the savannah. A detail, perhaps, but there’s a bit of zip to it, as with so many aspects of the offering. The behind the scenes feel, for example, and the interaction with zoo professionals, including those that care for the animals. It’s close by, which is a great plus, though the experience can feel a world away. A quick trip, though one that will create some nice shared memories as well as a sense of direct participation within the zoo environment.

Toronto 0
  • Township of King

    Nobleton, Ontario

    Our Take: Township of King

    our take

    Run by the municipality, the King camps have a lot of great resources at their disposal, and they make the most of all of them. Creativity, too, is an especially good resource to have when working with kids, and they have that as well. There are the core programs, including team sports and recreation, though there’s some lovely unique programs as well, including those centred on marine biology, Time Travellers, glamour camp, and Winter in July—kids gather to have snowball fights and hot chocolate in the middle of the summer heat. The administration works very consciously with the needs of families in mind, and locations, times, bussing, and after care are offered to make the experience seamless for all involved. The breadth of offering is impressive, making it a great resource year round, offering campers a chance to revisit familiar environments and staff throughout the summer and beyond. All sessions are exceptionally run and well-staffed.
     

Nobleton 0
  • True North Climbing - Day Camp

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: True North Climbing - Day Camp

    our take

    It’s often said that climbers climb mountains because they’re there, though, in actual fact, it’s not as much about the mountain as it is the process of addressing it. Any climb is a personal journey, and the creation of True North Climbing has been as well. Previously a tech professional, John Gross founded True North in 2010 less out of a proficiency with climbing—he’s the first to admit that at that time his enthusiasm outpaced his ability—than an understanding of the values and the lessons that climbing brings to a community. Teamwork, confidence, cooperation, challenge by choice—all of those things are at the core of climbing, and the camps allow an opportunity to extend them to young people. The facility is arresting and impressive in all kinds of great ways. It’s big, colourful. It’s also clearly very ordered, professional, and technical. Kids naturally approach the environment with respect, because that’s what the space and the staff both demand. The community that has developed at True North ranges from absolute beginners—the facility hosts birthday parties, which are many kids first experience of it—to national competitors at the very top of the sport. The counsellors are highly qualified and accredited, and the passion that they bring to the sport is an important part of the camper experience. Session enrolments are kept intentionally low in order to maximize time in participation. Weekend scrambles, school holiday sessions, and seasonal registration pacakges allow kids to extend the camp experience through the year. 
     

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
  • Under the GUI

    Vancouver, British Columbia

    Our Take: Under the GUI

    our take

    There are coding programs, and then, there is Under the GUI. It distinguishes itself in the depth and detail of the offering, including sessions in a broad range of coding languages. “GUI” stands for “graphic user interface” which, for the kids who attend, is part of the thrill—this is a language that they speak, even if their parents don't, and when they enter they join a group of like-minded, equally goal-directed peers and mentors. There’s a strong technical foundation, one that builds a holistic facility with the concepts, from the brass tacks to real-world application and innovation. Creativity and fun are hallmarks of the program, as they should be, though never at the cost of substance. Kids have fun precisely because it is so substantive. The days are full, and extended drop-off and pick-up a nice plus. Administration is professional and efficient, as is the program delivery.

Vancouver 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
  • Venture Academy Summer Program for Troubled Teens

    Minesing, Ontario

    Our Take: Venture Academy Summer Program for Troubled Teens

    our take

    Venture Academy was founded in 2000 by Gordon Hay in order to provide support for students who, for a range of reasons, weren’t thriving within traditional academic settings. Hay had worked with teens in outpatient and resident treatment settings, as well as within corrections programs. He is the first to say that so many of the stories he has heard over the years are heartbreaking, and the impact of so many of those stories has been profound. That said, while he perhaps doesn’t use the term, he created Venture as an atmosphere of hope—a place of understanding, including the understanding that positive change can be made. It’s about working with the individual, but it’s also about working closely with families, not just teens in isolation from them. It’s an impressive model, evident in the success that Venture has had over the years. There are now locations in Kelowna, BC, Red Deer, Alberta, and Barrie, Ontario, though Venture extends well beyond the bricks and mortar, and operates today as an umbrella organization, bringing together expertise, parents, and teens. The goal isn’t to silo teens, but rather to provide the kind of care, support, and understanding needed to help overcome the challenges they face. The summer programs extend all of that through the summer months, providing a positive environment for those already enrolled in the Venture program, as well as those who may be entirely new to it. It’s true that camp can be a life-altering experience for many young people, and the Venture programs further prove that point.

Minesing 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
  • Ways of the Woods Day Camp

    Milton, Ontario

    Our Take: Ways of the Woods Day Camp

    our take

    It’s a traditional camp in all the best ways, with the one exception that campers are home for dinner each night. Hosted by Conservation Halton, the camps make the most of a network of properties in and around the Niagara Escarpment. The resources include those of the various conservation areas, from extensive green space—wetlands, streams, forests, significant geological formations—to those associated with the natural history and regional heritage, such as the raptor centre at Mountsberg and the Iroquoian village exhibit at Crawford Lake. (Notably, Crawford is a meromictic lake and in the running to be the golden spike for the Anthropocene, which is more exciting than it sounds.) Theme weeks keep things kid-centred and vibrant. Environmental stewardship is a core goal of Conservation Halton, and awareness of nature, and our place within it, is an aspect of the camp offerings. But, yes, fun is also a goal, and engaged staff and theme weeks keep things kid-centred and vibrant.

Milton 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 Camps Belwood, Ki-Wa-Y and Wabanaki

    St. Clements, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA Camps Belwood, Ki-Wa-Y and Wabanaki

    our take

    You really can’t go wrong with a YMCA camp, and there are a few very good reasons for that. The Y has been fully invested in camp programs since Taylor Statten first developed them for the Y in 1902. In the years since, the programs have grown and diversified, literally providing the models that the vast majority of camps looked to when they created their programs. The culture of camps has grown as well, and the organization now has an embarrassment of riches, from top-level administration to program staffing. Everybody involved is here because they want to be here, and have demonstrated a passion and ability to work with kids through the core tenets: mind, body, spirit. Because of the extent and breadth of the operations, the standards are set extremely high. It can be frustrating, at times, to fill out all the online registration forms, but, nevertheless, they are testament to how everything is run: professionally, with care, experience, and expertise. Between the three camps run out of the Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA, there is a diversity of options, allowing campers to grow from their first overnight experiences close to home, to intensive tripping in Killarney or sea kayaking on Georgian Bay. As such, the KW YMCA is a one-stop shop of the full range of quality camp offerings, and quality, established programs and locations.

St. Clements 0
  • YMCA Cedar Glen

    Schomberg, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA Cedar Glen

    our take

    The YMCA camps have long history and tradition in Canada, and Cedar Glen is an example of both of those. The programming is solidly based in the traditions, which is something that attracts families. There is also a nice bit of breathing room--days are active, but not to the point of exhaustion. It's a nice pace through the day. Programs are also reflective of the core values of the YMCA: mind, body, and spirit. Those values are a very nice piece of the offering, and one that rightly is a draw. The location--closer to the GTA than most Y camps--is also a plus. 

Schomberg 0
  • YMCA John Island Camp

    Spanish, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA John Island Camp

    our take

    You really can’t go wrong with a YMCA camp, and there are a few very good reasons for that. The Y has been fully invested in camp programs since Taylor Statten first developed them for the Y in 1902. In the years since, the programs have grown and diversified, literally providing the models that the vast majority of camps looked to when they created their programs. John Island, in particular, offers a charming, traditional camp experience: the poetic vision of nights around the campfire, days on the water, friends everywhere and not a device in sight. It’s a model that has worked to develop initiative and confidence in young people for more than 100 years, and John Island is a great demonstration of why that is. Leadership programs may even apply toward high school credit, which is a nice plus. That said, the inter-generational engagement, the opportunities to grow through graduated, appropriate challenges, is why families turn first to John Island. As well they should.

Spanish 0
  • YMCA of Greater Vancouver

    Vancouver, British Columbia

    Our Take: YMCA of Greater Vancouver

    our take

    You really can’t go wrong with a YMCA camp, and there are a few very good reasons for that. The Y has been fully invested in camp programs since Taylor Statten first developed them for the Y in 1902. In the years since, the programs have grown and diversified, literally providing the models that the vast majority of camps looked to when they created their programs. The culture of camps has grown as well, and the organization now has an embarrassment of riches, from top-level administration to program staffing. Everybody involved is here because they want to be here, and have demonstrated a passion and ability to work with kids through the core tenets: mind, body, spirit. Because of the extent and breadth of the operations, the standards are set extremely high. Between the three camps run out of the Vancouver YMCA, there is a diversity of options, allowing campers to grow from their first day-camp experiences, to family camping, to intensive tripping and hiking, to developing leadership skills. The range of environments, including the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and Sunshine Coast allows for a range of experience unique to these programs. In all, there’s a lot to love.

Vancouver 0
  • YMCA of Oakville

    Oakville, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA of Oakville

    our take

    The YMCA is perhaps the most integrated institution that you could ever hope to find, and in that is one the greatest strengths of the programs they offer. Kids spend each day engaged actively with others, something that begins with the bus ride there. It’s fun, of course, but it’s fun you can take seriously, and the values that underwrite the programming are rightly a primary draw. The expert admin and program development that the Y is known for is in ample evidence throughout the Oakville offering, and great use is made of the wealth and diversity of facilities available.

Oakville 0
  • YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka

    Ramara, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka

    our take

    If it’s a kind of camp, the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka has it, from day programs, to family camp, to overnight camp at Kitchikewana, located on an island within Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Campers can literally begin the programs at age 6 with a day camp and then progress through to a full month program in the teen years. All are expertly run through the lens of the values that the Y is rightly famous for. The day camp offerings are as extensive as they are diverse, offered at a wealth of facilities that, in any way you look at it, comprises an embarrassment of riches. Campers learn and grow in empathetic environments that prise talent, diversity, and engagement.

Ramara 0
  • YMCA of Southwestern Ontario Overnight Camps

    London, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA of Southwestern Ontario Overnight Camps

    our take

    The YMCA camps have long set a standard, ever since Taylor Statten joined the Y in 1906 and really inaugurated a new era in camping programs. While Camp Queen Elizabeth and Camp Henry may not share the vintage, they nevertheless express the ideal, namely providing opportunities for young people to work and grow together through the lens of some core values: mutual respect, responsibility, honesty, and empathy. Camps Henry and Queen Elizabeth add location to the mix—Henry is within Point Pelee National Park on Lake Erie, and Queen Elizabeth is on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park. As such, both offer unique opportunities to experience aspects of Canada’s natural heritage. The sites are pristine, in keeping with the context. Some shorter sessions offer younger campers to get their sleepaway feet wet, adding a nice dimension to the programming.

London 0
  • YMCA Summer Day Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA Summer Day Camps

    our take

    You really can’t go wrong with a YMCA camp, and there are a few very good reasons for that. The Y has been fully invested in camp programs since Taylor Statten first developed them for the Y in 1902. In the years since, the programs have grown and diversified, including day sessions, for which the Toronto YMCA has consistently lead the charge. The culture of camps has grown as well, and the organization now has an embarrassment of riches, from top-level administration to program staffing. Everybody involved is here because they want to be here, and have demonstrated a passion and ability to work with kids through the core tenets: mind, body, spirit. For parents, that brings a lot of confidence and peace of mind. Further, because of the extent and breadth of the operations, the standards are set extremely high. It can be frustrating, at times, to fill out all the online registration forms, but, nevertheless, they are testament to how everything is run: professionally, with care, experience, and expertise. If you want to see how day camps should be run, look no further than the YMCA of Greater Toronto Summer Day Camps. The wealth of programs locations throughout the city, and extensive busing, too, add to the efficiency for families and resources available for programming.

Toronto 0
  • YMCA Wanakita

    Haliburton, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA Wanakita

    our take

    Founded in 1953, Wanakita may not be one of the oldest camps in Canada, though it has long been one of the most influential, and is one of the camps that others look to when growing or innovating their programs. It has a very traditional feel, something that they rightly celebrate, with all the traditional activities on offer. Reach for the Rainbow is a touchstone of a culture of inclusivity that extends throughout the camp, its ethos, and its operations. The addition of a summer-long family camp was conspicuous when it was begun well 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 kids' camp programs are separated, and there are benefits to that, not the least being separate dining halls. Wanakita has an impressive tradition of leadership, with many of its alumni having moved on to prominent roles, nationally, both in the Y and in camping generally. The facilities and programs have naturally evolved to meet the needs of new generations of campers, 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, one that is rightly celebrated, with all the traditional activities on offer. The addition of a summer-long family camp was conspicuous when it was begun well over a decade ago, though has become the model for many others throughout North America. The family camp and kids' camp programs are separated, and there are benefits to that, not the least being separate dining halls. Wanakita has an impressive tradition of leadership, with many of its alumni having moved on to prominent roles, both locally and nationally. As ever, Wanakita remains a vibrant camp environment, one in which values are as important as activities. As far as family camping goes, this in many ways is the original, a program that continues to set the standard for what family camping can be. 

Haliburton 0
  • YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region

    Ottawa, Ontario

    Our Take: YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region

    our take

    There’s more than a few reasons why the Y programs, particularly around camping, are so highly regarded, and the camps offered by YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region are exemplary of all of them. They are age appropriate, providing opportunities to grow up within them, from day camps through to long-duration tripping and leadership training. All the camps are fun, to be sure, but they are also about growing into roles of responsibility. The values of the Y programs, too, are a draw, based in the tripartite focus on mind-body-spirit. Expert leadership, inclusive programming, a wealth of programming, and a nice constellation of facilities. There’s simply a lot to love.  

Ottawa 0
  • York University Lions Camps

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: York University Lions Camps

    our take

    At the York University Lions Camps campers can 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 a bit at the same time. The staff is sympathetic to all of that, made up of youth leaders from the York student community.
     

Toronto 0
  • York University; Science Engagement

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: York University; Science Engagement

    our take

    Science Engagement sessions engage with the outcomes of the provincial curriculum, extending them in a range of meaningful ways, through hands-on, cooperative learning. Students also work within a professional setting, and learn from student leaders that themselves are working in those fields throughout the year. 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.

Toronto 0
  • Young People's Theatre/YPT

    Toronto, Ontario

    Our Take: Young People's Theatre/YPT

    our take

    YPT,  by anyone’s reckoning, is a great Canadian arts institution. Founded in 1966, it hit the ground running, producing professional quality plays, and rightly gaining widespread attention because of it. Susan Rubes, the founder, was something of a force in the arts, and an indefatigable proponent both of what kids could do and what her programs should do for them. She believed that “Only the best is good enough for children,” and built YPT in that vein. It soon grew to a stature equal to the professional companies in Toronto, becoming an important part of the city’s cultural scene. Directorship was filled by a who’s who of the theatre world, including Richard Ouzounian, and Peter Moss, who arrived from a role at the Stratford Festival. The perspective wasn't that children’s theatre was a lesser, smaller version of adult theatre, but rather that it was a unique and vital expression on par with it. That sense remains to this day, and kids who participate are truly participating in something very much at the heart of Canadian theatre and its traditions. Directorship is as good as it gets, as is the faculty who run the programs. For kids interested in the arts, the experience of participating in the YPT is as inspiring as it is singular. It’s arguably the foremost program of its kind in the country, a position it’s maintained for over half a century.

Toronto 0

More reviews coming soon




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