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Tuesday
Aug142018

Camp Henry – Creating Lifelong Memories

From building confidence, to growing skills such as swimming or riding a bike, to making lifelong memories, Camp Henry offers no shortage of life-changing experiences for kids ages 5-15. Since opening the doors two years ago, in the beautiful natural landscape of Point Peele National Park, we have had hundreds of happy campers leave camp already talking about returning the following summer.

He loved it so much, I'm not sure I have a choice but to send him again!                - 2017 Survery Quote

The experiences, friendships and memories made at overnight camp are ones that have such a positive profound effect on children. Whether they’re learning how to ride a two-wheel bike for the first time, overcoming shyness by participating in their first fun talent show, or making friends that will last a lifetime, YMCA staff are always there to ensure every single camper is having the best time. 

Thank you to the staff at Camp Henry for making Natalie's first experience at camp such a wonderful one!! She had the most incredible time, made new friends and is already talking about next summer. - Jennifer Saving McIntosh                                                                              

The YMCA also strongly believes in inclusion. That’s why we work hard to make sure no one is turned away. When it comes to financial support, all campers who require subsidy will be able to access Strong Kids, so that overnight camp is an option for everyone who wants to participate.

While we know Camp Henry provides children with the most incredible summer camp experience, it’s always good to hear from the parents of children who’ve come here. That’s why we’re sharing with you some of the reviews and testimonials we’ve received. We absolutely love hearing these stories. If you have any of your own to share, please send us an email or a a message on our Facebook page. Happy camping!

Testimonials

"Thank you to all the staff and camp counsellors for making my son's first week of camp so amazing!!! He had so many new things to share that he learned at Camp and was so excited to go back for another week!! We are so excited to find out how this week goes! Also, Ben's little sister, Lily, who is 3, says she loves all the pics and says she would love to come to camp too because she knows she will have fun, just like Benjamin! Thanks for making so many awesome memories for my family!! We  Camp Henry!!!" - Crystal Gillies

 
"A big thank you to the awesome YMCA Camp Henry staff for an amazing week! Whether it was learning to properly cut wood and make a fire, to the essential joy of being outdoors at camp and biking the trails and kayaking, Joanna, the kids and I all had a blast." - Gautam Khanna

 

"My daughter absolutely loved going to Camp Henry. This was her first experience at an overnight camp and she can't stop talking about next year." - Mom of Camp Henry camper

 

"Thank you everyone for such a great week! Pearl cried for about 30 minutes in the car ride home, already missing her new friends. I asked her what she would give Camp Henry out of 10 and she said “more than 10.” Ferris is still awake, trying to figure out Russell’s magic tricks. He also can’t stop talking about riding a bike without training wheels – I don’t know how you guys did it, but you helped him overcome his fear. Thanks again everyone. What an amazing experience. F & P will be back again next year!"

 

Photo Credit: Matthew Hoy

 

"I just want to take a minute to say thank you! I have two of the happiest kids ever. A little background for you. My oldest daughter is 11 and had a previous bad camp experience. She was so scared to head to your camp this year. Lots of tears leading up to camp day. My 5 year old had never been to camp. She’s more outgoing but was obviously a little nervous. I picked them up last night. They have both had nothing but good things to say about camp. We’ve already discussed them coming back next year. Again, thank you so much. Looking forward to this annual tradition with you."


"Thank you to everyone at Camp Henry. Damien and Ash-Lyn had a fantastic time and both matured while away. GREAT JOB!!!!"

"With the location in Point Peele Park, Park, there's just so much campers have access to, and my son had an amazing time this year."

"My daughter got sick while at camp and felt like she was loved and taken care of. Thank you for taking  care of the same way we would have if she were at home."

"My daughter suffers from anxiety and was thrilled with the counsellors and how she felt. I am so thankful for this experience for her."

 "This was my daughter's 1st time at camp and loved every second of it! We asked if she wanted to return and she said yes!"


 

Find out more about Camp Henry.

Tuesday
Jul312018

International Youth Day - Safe Spaces for Teens

Most teenagers have a lot going on. The age of 13-19 is full of growth, changes, and massive learning experiences. There is also often a lot of peer and social pressure, messages from the media, and ongoing and constantly-evolving challenges within social media and other areas. With all of the changes occurring and the pressures that can come along with being a teenager, it’s crucial that teens feel safe, respected, and valued. Having a safe space, whatever it may be, can make a vital difference in a teen’s life and future outcome. The issue of safe spaces is so important that they are the key focus of this year’s International Youth Day!

But, what’s a safe space?

A safe space for teens can take the form or place of many different things. For some, it’s their own home or wherever their immediate family is. For some, it’s the home of a close friend or extended family members. And for others, their safe space  is a place or group, such as a school, a community centre, or a special night or group specifically for people their age.


Why is a safe space so important?

Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in diverse activities, and freely and respectfully express themselves. Safe public spaces also give our youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities. These spaces can be especially vital to those who are most vulnerable to violence or marginalization. Without these safe spaces, youths from certain groups and backgrounds may feel intimidated to freely express themselves or contribute to the community. When they have opportunities to engage and thrive in a safe space, they are more likely to succeed and contribute in positive ways.

 

YMCA Teen Nights
The relationships teens have with their friends are some of the most impactful ones they have. We encourage positive connections with each other by providing youth with places where they can take part in healthy and productive activities. Our weekly teen nights for youth were developed in response to the needs of our growing and diverse youth community. YMCA Teen Nights offer free programming for youth ages 13-24 at eight YMCA Health and Fitness Centres in London and surrounding areas. Run by youth, for youth, these nights offer free access every Friday to safe and welcoming places for teens to interact with their peers and explore what the Y has to offer. The spaces are not dominated by programming, and this unique program is open to all community youth, both YMCA members as well as non-members. Family members, such as parents, also benefit from our Teen Night program by knowing their children have a safe and welcoming place to spend time on Friday evenings.

 

“I like going to Teen Night because it’s a place where you could enjoy the night with friends, play basketball and work out. Recently, I caught up with some old friends who I haven’t seen since the eighth grade which would have never happened if it wasn’t for Teen Night being so popular. It’s a great place to meet new people.” - Muntather Alnehmodi

 


Young people between 12 and 25 years of age make up nearly a fifth of our population in Ontario. As these young people emerge into adulthood in the coming years, it is crucial that they are given the necessary tools to become active and empowered citizens, capable of contributing positively to their communities. Offering teens safe spaces where they can freely be and express themselves is vital to helping them realize their full potential and capabilities. And for some, these spaces are one of the few, sometimes only, safe place they have. The YMCA of Western Ontario aims to help both support and empower youth through our many programs and services. By providing safe places for teens to be with their peers, we are also giving them a chance to express themselves, supporting them as they develop into the role models and leaders that our communities need.

To learn all about the many different opportunities, programs, and safe spaces for teens in your area, check out your local YMCA.

Tuesday
Jul242018

The Most Inspiring Part of Camp - Director's Blog

It’s hard to believe we are already approaching the half-way mark of our summer programs. Each week has been so awesome and so different in many ways, but one part each week stands out to me more than any other moment. My personal favourite part of each week is the talent show.

The talent show, without a fail, is the time each week when I feel the most pride and joy in every camper present. The confidence it takes for them to get up on stage, either with a team or on their own, is incredible. And the support these children show each other while onstage is unbelievable. Regardless of any clashes or conflicts during the week, it seems that when the talent show is on, every single camper is the most respectful audience member I could ask for. Without us prompting, they are there encouraging nervous or shy campers, applauding every act, and engaging in all the right ways. It’s absolutely beautiful. 

 

I am no stranger to being in front of a group of people. But doing announcements and campfire songs is different than sharing a talent or skill in front of a group. At our most recent talent show, some campers convinced me to sing and it was honestly really nerve wracking. But the campers and staff were so encouraging and supportive, I felt like this was the perfect time to try this.


Each week, I remind the staff how proud they should be in their role of helping to build this welcoming and open atmosphere at YMCA Camp Henry. Where campers feel they can take a risk and step out onto that stage because they are fully supported by everyone in the room. A place where people can take a chance and feel safe. This is what camp is to me.  


The talent show is the most amazing display of confidence from the campers. When relating back to the first evening’s program and opening campfire, the growth in each of these individuals is inspiring. Each week this is one of the main events that reminds me, again, of why camp is important.

 

A week at Camp Henry truly takes campers from campfires to confidence.

Thursday
Jun282018

A Camp Henry Family 

Last summer I had the opportunity to send my 5 and 11 year old girls to chickadee week at camp Henry. 
My 11 year old had previously spent a week at another camp and it did not go well. She was very anxious about camp Henry. To say she didn’t want to go is an understatement.
Leading up to summer we researched as much as we could on the website with the girls. Everything from information about the otentiks to the menu.
When news of the open house presented itself we knew we had to go. The people were amazing and friendly. Being able to see camp and meet some people helped to set my kids minds at ease. It was just what they needed.
Finally time to go to camp came. Smiling faces welcomed us. The health check right away set my mind at ease. I also had a minute to forewarn staff about my eldest and her anxiety. The girls loved being able to bring their parents to drop their belongings to the otentiks. 
Having a way to communicate with the kids while at camp was fantastic. Just a quick email here or there. Even my little one drew a picture to be sent to us. I think just knowing it was an option calmed the kids fears. Following their week at camp through Facebook is perfect. Nothing but smiling kids in the pictures. It was nice to know what they were up to day by day. 
After camp was over we picked up two of the happiest girls ever. They were speaking a million words a minute and had stories to tell for days. 
My eldest daughter said the food was great. She loved archery and the nature education.    She also said the counsellors cared and asked about each of the kids. They showed a genuine interest and made her feel as though she belonged. 
My little one loved the food, games and the people. 
It was a fantastic experience and we look forward to sending the girls for many summers to come. 

Last summer I had the opportunity to send my 5 and 11 year old girls to chickadee week at camp Henry. 
My 11 year old had previously spent a week at another camp and it did not go well. She was very anxious about camp Henry. To say she didn’t want to go is an understatement. 
Leading up to summer we researched as much as we could on the website with the girls. Everything from information about the otentiks to the menu. 
When news of the open house presented itself we knew we had to go. The people were amazing and friendly. Being able to see camp and meet some people helped to set my kids minds at ease. It was just what they needed. 
Finally time to go to camp came. Smiling faces welcomed us. The health check right away set my mind at ease. I also had a minute to forewarn staff about my eldest and her anxiety. The girls loved being able to bring their parents to drop their belongings to the otentiks. 
Having a way to communicate with the kids while at camp was fantastic. Just a quick email here or there. Even my little one drew a picture to be sent to us. I think just knowing it was an option calmed the kids fears. Following their week at camp through Facebook is perfect. Nothing but smiling kids in the pictures. It was nice to know what they were up to day by day. 
After camp was over we picked up two of the happiest girls ever. They were speaking a million words a minute and had stories to tell for days. 
My eldest daughter said the food was great. She loved archery and the nature education.    She also said the counsellors cared and asked about each of the kids. They showed a genuine interest and made her feel as though she belonged. 
My little one loved the food, games and the people. 
It was a fantastic experience and we look forward to sending the girls for many summers to come. 

Friday
May252018

Hello Camp Henry Families!

If I have not had the chance to meet you yet, my name is Kelly Reynolds and I am the lucky person who gets to be the Director of YMCA Camp Henry (a.k.a. living the dream!). I feel so lucky to be in this position. I absolutely love spending my year planning camp and my summers in Point Pelee National Park with some awesome campers and staff.

 

Overnight camp is unique experience that provides many opportunities to kids outside of the  ‘real world’. Everyone can always spend more time outside and in nature, and more time having face-to-face interactions and developing real friendships. That is what camp is all about. We bring children together in a safe and supportive environment to learn new skills, make mistakes, make friends, build upon existing friendships and have fun outside!

 

I can only imagine how challenging it is to send away a child you love to overnight camp. Although it’s not hard to see the benefits camp can have on children, it’s still tough saying goodbye for the week. We want you to know that we recognize that and are there for you and your camper. We want every camper to have the most awesome camp experience possible, and we want every family at home to feel confident their child is having that awesome experience they hope for.

 

 

 

In the offseason we spend all of our time considering how we can improve things for the upcoming summer – not only for our campers, but for their families at home as well! Our team here at the YMCA thought it would be nice to create this platform to share what we are working on with you, talk about why we do what we do, and provide an opportunity for our Camp Henry families to share their experiences.

 

Looking forward to getting to know you more this summer!

 

Kelly Reynolds

Director, YMCA Camp Henry

YMCA of Western Ontario

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