Discussing What Makes Camp Fun and Memorable
July 15, 2019 by Anya Eland

Camp Can-Aqua

Camp is a very special experience for kids of all ages. Everyone at camp, including staff experience an amazing adventure, one would only experience at camp. Learn what makes camp so special for kids from Andrew Martin, Camp Director of Camp Can-Aqua.

Q: Why do you love camp?

I love camp because I feel it is the most honest, optimistic, educational and inspiring movement I have ever seen in my life. I refer to it as a movement because, while all camps are different in their own way, they are also very similar. Ontario camping is now world-renowned for the exceptional experiences we provide. That’s due to the movement and to the OCA providing the best summer camp experiences for kids in the world. It has given me a profession where I get to be present to see some of the most remarkable achievements kids make in their development. The thrill and excitement on the faces of kids after they have worked hard to accomplish success is incredible. What job could possibly be better?

Q: What makes for a positive summer camp experience for kids?

I don’t believe there is one answer. It really depends on what the child is looking for in their camp experience. At Can-Aqua, what makes the experience positive for kids is that we talk through our problems, we celebrate our successes and we take the time to make sure we all understand what’s ahead of us. The world moves fast and kids are often pulled along for the ride. At Can-Aqua, kids are given the reigns and encouraged to drive. I find that when kids are truly in control, they are socially aware, present, eager to learn, challenge themselves and improve in whatever area they wish to excel in.

Q: How has camp changed over the years?

Camp has definitely changed over the years. Largely for the better, I think camp is far more regulated then ever before. Health and Safety standards are fully established and the Ontario Camps Association has a detailed and dynamic series of standards to ensure camps work professionally, safely and with integrity.

Q: What is a memorable interaction you have had with a kid at camp?

One of my favourite memories at camp isn’t a one-time thing. At camp; each session, new kids arrive and some are more anxious then others. I am a huge fan of tennis and love to play.  Years ago, on the first day of camp I met a really anxious kid who wanted to go home. After talking to him a little, I discovered he and I shared a love for tennis, so we made a plan to wake up early the next day and meet at the tennis court. This morning meeting turned into a daily commitment and something we continued throughout his years as a camper. While in the beginning, we were more evenly matched, he began playing competitively and by the time he was 15, I didn’t stand a chance. But we still played and that game, which lasted over seven years, is one of my most memorable experiences as a camp director. Although we haven’t played tennis in a while, I still get periodic updates on the amazing things he is doing in life.=

Q: What is a big thing kids can take away from camp?

Camp teaches kids to be present and in the moment. While the schedule is busy, there is always time and we don’t rush through life at camp, we experience it, everyday. Kids take away a more clear sense of self and a feeling of belonging. Perhaps most valuable is that for most kids, summer camp is the first time they are able to meet and make social connections and build relationships with people independent from their parents.

Q: What makes camp such a good place for kids to connect to themselves and their environment?

In sending your child to camp, you are placing them in a chaotic, creative but also controlled environment. Each camp states their rules or their camper code of conduct. Camps are not like school where they have to tolerate bad behaviour and problematic parental oversight (no offence parents).  The camp calls sets out the rules for the game and kids come ready to play. For most camps unplugging is not the end result, it’s a part of the experience.

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