YMCA Camps and Outdoor Education

Summer Day Camp: Where creativity and imagination create magical experiences

10 June 2024 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

The end of June is near. Children are trading in their notebooks and pencils for sunscreen and swimming gear. Many children are about to say goodbye to school and enter the magical world of camp. 

Summer camp

It’s a place where creativity is always welcomed. Where tables are filled with colouring pencils, paint and crafts every morning, camp songs like Princess Pat and Bear Song are sung all day to see who can sing the loudest, and where you can embrace your love of cooking, video producing or biking throughout the summer.

Whether in sports, arts & crafts, outdoor adventure or music video camp, thousands of children are getting ready to embrace new challenges, big and small, every summer. 

But this magical world isn’t complete without its magicians: camp counsellors. 

I fell in love with camp when I went to my first summer camp as a child. I experienced a fun, learning environment beyond the four walls of school. And the best part? The counsellors. When I was young, they seemed so cool. They taught me to push beyond my comfort zone and that there was always room for everyone. 

After years of participating in summer camp, when I had the chance to become a counsellor a mentor for campers like myself — I jumped at the opportunity and joined YMCA Summer Day Camp. It was a natural next step for me after growing up with a tradition of summer camp. Like thousands of teenagers, it was my first job and a natural next step in my personal development. 

As a counsellor, I was crossing into a familiar space, one that I’d experienced before as a camper. But this time I was the one campers looked up to, a maker of magic in my cotton t-shirt, walkie talkie and fanny pack at the ready instead of top hat and wand.   

Before I knew it, I was applying the skills I had observed from my fellow counsellors throughout the years without even realizing it. 

But it’s not only for camp lovers, I know so many people who had never stepped foot in camp before becoming a counsellor. That’s what’s great about camp it’s a place for everyone, no matter your background, skills and experience. With so many kinds of camp in our communities, no matter what your passion or skills, there’s a place for you.

The memories I had as a camper were now the experiences of a new generation of children. The wonder of seeing life from a canoe for the very first time in the Muskokas or learning how to make a crème brûlée and magically perfecting it on the first try. 

As a camp counsellor, you are the camp experience. You embody the values of camps and guide campers through so many firsts. You create lasting memories, help campers feel empowered every day and help them grow and thrive in a safe environment. 

Simultaneously you’re reaching your own potential, becoming confident in your ability to lead day one, learning from senior staff, adapting and problem solving as soon as the clock hits 8:30 am on Monday, and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone creatively day in and day out.

Kindness, optimism, integrity, respect, inclusiveness, well-being

The seeds of these values that are so important to me now, and forever carved as value beads I confidently wear on my wrist every day, were planted during my summers as a camper and counsellor. 

Summer Day Camp is a first job for so many young people. We learn about responsibility, resilience, agility and team work. It built the foundation for the transferable skills needed not just for future careers, but also for life. 

As the summer quickly approaches, and many youth look to get their first jobs, I’m reminded of that young girl, wide-eyed and excited to walk into her first day of camp and can’t help but think how different my world could have been. Summer camp gave me the opportunity to create magic and learn in the process.

Jamie Pecile

Regional Director, YMCA Summer Day Camp

The YMCA of Greater Toronto offers 1,000 camp programs at 50+ different locations across the GTA and Muskoka. From arts and sports to overnight and leadership camp, there is something for everyone.

Register now.


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