Mark Fry & Anna Chigogidze, Directors
Summer and summer camp has always been a valuable aspect of my life. Some of the greatest lessons in my life have been learned on the waters and at late night conversations. I was a member of a canoe club camp from the age of ten until twenty. When I think of the best times of my life, I think of those summers on the water. My little brother went to YMCA’s camps in Nova Scotia and this is where he went from being a boy to a man.
Myself and my two brothers were all counsellors in Pennsylvania at a special needs camp for three summers. We are best friends to this day because of these summers together.
In my mid-twenties I stumbled upon breathing and meditation and never in a million years would I have thought that this would be for me. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is what I was always waiting for and didn’t know it. The breathing techniques that I learned along with meditation helped me overcome past traumatic impressions and addiction issues.
At the YES! Camp we combine all of the traditional aspects of summer camp along with these powerful and helpful breathing and mediation techniques. As well the campers get to eat a vegetarian cuisine with many vegetables coming from our organic garden. A vegetarian diet is new to many, but they all love it in the end. Especially when they can still eat smores at the campfire.
Myself and my partner, Anna Chigogidze, are running this camp because we want the youth of Canada and the world to have a great summer experience. And, to have these powerful breathing techniques and mediation to help them excel in today's often challenging world for children.
My daughter has gone through the Art Excel program that we offer at YES! camp (for elementary age children) several times. This has made a tremendous difference in her self-confidence and friendliness towards her peers. She is naturally a sweet and soft-spoken girl, so one time I asked her whether anyone had ever made her angry or upset at school, since I had rarely seen her feel this way at home.
She told me that yes, in fact, one of the older kids at her school had said something that made her feel frustrated and angry. When I asked how she dealt with the situation, she replied that she found a quiet spot on the playground and did the breathing and meditation techniques that she learned on the Art Excel! program. You can imagine how happy I felt that she skillfully implemented what she learned in a situation that required her to manage her emotions.
Meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques (especially Sudarshan Kriya) have made a huge difference in my life. I have become more patient, more creative, more resilient, more natural... more - myself. I would have loved to have learned these practices in my elementary or teenage years. Seeing their value today, I am passionate about our camp offering these invaluable life skills amidst the fun, laughter and community that we continue building each year at YES! Camp.
With the various pressures that youth face today, we are honoured and excited to provide a camp program that offers a space for kids to have fun, form life-long friendships, and learn more about themselves, and living life in a healthy and happy way.
Mark Fry & Anna Chigogidze, Co-Directors