Highlights from the OCA Conference

Every January, camps from all over Ontario gather together in Markham. This Ontario Camping Association conference provides a place for camp staff to come together to swap stories, share ideas, and learn from each other.  Each day is filled with workshops on hot topics in the camping world, such as waterfront safety, mental health support for campers and staff, canoe tripping safety and more. We loved seeing old friends from Camp Tamakwa and meeting new friends like the Camp Walden staff. There were many amazing workshops lead by incredible people from the camping world and it was truly a meeting of the minds. Below are the OCA Conference highlights for TSC:

The Blanket Exercise. This exercise was held on the first afternoon of the conference and everyone who was there that day participated. Without a doubt, it was the most powerful and moving of all the activities/workshops/events that we attended. As stated on kairosblanketexercise.org, this is a “teaching tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.” It is interactive, emotional, eye-opening, and instills a greater sense of empathy. We walked away from the exercise with a better understanding of the experiences Indigenous peoples have incurred throughout Canadian history and prior.

Meeting other camp directors. As the OCA involves camps from all over Ontario, it is the one time of year that camp directors and admin staff get the chance to all be together in one central location. We loved meeting from other camps and hearing about their practices. Collaboration and the sharing of information between many successful camps can only have a positive impact on our growth and development.

The mental health workshop. Mental health is very relevant topic within today’s society and one that is nothing short of important in the camp world. We had the opportunity to listen to mental health experts who have a ton of experience with supporting campers and staff. We learned so much from them and are looking forward to implementing more support strategies this summer!

The exhibit hall. This is when we get to meet different suppliers and learn what they can offer the camp. We also get to catch up with suppliers we already use! We loved seeing everything they had to show us and cannot wait to make our supply orders.

The food. Well this goes without saying really… so delicious!! 🙂

We are already looking forward to attending the 2018 conference next January! Thank you to all the camps that contributed and to the Ontario Camping Association for a wonderful experience.