You have now heard of how my summer camp journey started with NYQUEST, now it’s time to find out what it’s like once you get to summer camp!
My summer camp placement was at Camp Northland on the beautiful shores of Moose Lake in the Haliburton High Country of Ontario. I was lucky enough to have my dream placement as Head of Water ski for the summer.
The journey to camp started on the 17th June 2013, when all head staff meet at the camp office in Toronto, loaded all our bags and gear for the summer onto the truck (it’s amazing the amount of gear that staff and campers living in Toronto take with them! – you will all find this out first hand when you arrive at camp) and then off we went in our convoy of cars up to camp. It was a 3 hour drive up to camp and it was amazing to see the pure excitement that my fellow head staff members had the closer they got to camp – this place was their home and I was excited to be able to soon see it all for myself! When we finally arrived at camp, it was all a little overwhelming, meeting so many new people and trying to remember names, but everyone was so nice that I soon felt at ease.
Once the truck arrived with our bags it was all hands on deck to unload everything and then we had time to go and set our rooms up. I would be making my new home for the next 2 months in ‘Grand West’ with 6 other female head staff. I was luckily enough to get my own room and set about making it my own with the 23kgs of baggage I had. Luckily I had packed a New Zealand flag which made for a great curtain over the window! My room did look a little barren compared to everyone else’s, they had fairy lights, costumes, and flags of their camp Olympic team, but I was happy with my space and couldn’t wait to experience all that camp had in store for me.
The first week of camp was for head staff and counsellors only and it was all focused on team building and making sure that we were all prepared to make that summer the best summer ever for the campers. Next, the day finally came when the campers started arriving on the buses, it was exciting to see so many smiling faces, all ready and excited to start their summer at camp.
Camp activities started properly the next day and I couldn’t wait to welcome all the campers down to the ski docks and show them an amazing summer on the water. Water ski and tubing was the most popular activity at camp. My staff of 5 and I were in for an action packed summer that’s for sure. Being the head of water ski, I had a staff of 5 to look after and work with over the summer. My staff were amazing and helped to make my summer the best it could possibly be!
Each day was split into hobbies and cabin activities. Hobbies were when the campers got to choose what activities they wanted to do for that week and cabin activities were when campers would go to an activity with their cabin. We usually had 3 hobbies periods and 3 cabin periods a day, usually lasting around 40 min to an hour long. My day would start at 8 am for breakfast and finish after flag pole at about 7 pm, unless we had specialty ski where ski staff would stick around at the docks to allow other specialty staff, maintenance staff and counsellors a chance to have a turn down at ski. I would usually be down at the ski docks till the sun had gone down and it became too dangerous to operate the boats. The days were long but totally worth it all.
Northland offered so many different activities for the campers – I wish we had summer camps in New Zealand as I would have loved to attended summer camp as a kid! Activities ranged from waterfront activities such as wind sports (sailing and Paddleboard), swimming, Water ski/ tubing and canoeing to land sports, adventure (high and low ropes), cooking, arts and crafts, music, dance, trip (outdoor learning) and specific to Northland – Judicica (Jewish Learning).
Northland is a Jewish camp, and to begin with, I was a little unsure of how I would fit in not being a religious person or having much knowledge of the Jewish culture. However, I now have a much better understanding and respect for the Jewish culture. My advice to all of you out there who are feeling a little hesitant or unsure of going to a Jewish or any other religious based camp – embrace it all as much as you can and feel comfortable with. You will be thankful that you did at the end of your summer.
Northland had many different traditions which happened throughout the summer. A new tradition for the 2013 summer was the inclusion of flag pole after breakfast and after dinner. It was great seeing the whole camp come together twice a day, we got to celebrate birthdays, catch up on the latest Entertainment gossip (we found out at flagpole about the birth of Prince George) and the latest sports results. Northland also celebrated the end of Shabbat with Havdalah on a Saturday evening. This was when the whole camp came together for a Jewish candle lighting ceremony and sang a number of songs. I really enjoyed participating in the Havdalah ceremonies. After Havdalah there were camp wide socials where local musicians came into camp and played for all the campers.
The biggest and definitely the most anticipated tradition of the whole summer was the Olympic Games. There were 6 different countries represented in the Olympic Games – Canada, Japan, USA, France, Italy and the UK. I was on team UK. Campers represent the same country throughout their camp life and it is amazing seeing the pride and joy they have in representing their country. The chanting that happened in the dining hall on the days of the games was deafening with campers all trying to be the loudest country. Both campers and staff participated in the games with activities such as sprints, hockey, shot put, spelling bee, tug of war, sock wars and much more. I was selected to run the female staffs 100m sprint for team UK, and I won! It was an amazing feeling to be able to do my part in helping to get points for team UK. Another big feature of the Olympic Games was the opening and closing ceremonies. These ceremonies were amazing and the teams all put so much effort into them. Team UK came in second place for the 2013 games.
With the Olympic Games having now finished it was time for camp to start winding down and getting prepared to come to a close for the summer. Camp Northland has one very special tradition to close their summer – called the ‘NBB burning’. Everyone gathered down at the main beach where a slide show of all the photos from the summer was played and set to music. There was also speeches made by staff members about their time at camp and then there was the special ‘NBB burning ceremony’, where a wooden ‘NBB’ was set alight and burnt to draw the summer to an end. It was a very special time for all campers and staff and I definitely felt the family/ community feeling that this camp has for each other.
I had so many amazing experiences at Camp Northland. From personally learning how to slalom ski to teaching new campers how to water ski/ wakeboard or kneeboard, to experiencing the Jewish culture, to making new friends from around the world to sleeping on the tennis courts one night after camp had finished under the most amazing starry night sky. The weather was absolutely amazing as well– beautiful, hot summer days to experiencing some amazing thunderstorms.
There are a couple of amazing people at Camp Northland that helps to make Northland what it is that I would like to take a moment to mention.
Lewis Sohinki– this was Lewis’ first summer as Camp Director at Northland and you could tell he has a passion for making Northland the best summer camp ever. I really enjoyed getting to know Lewis, especially taking him on the best ski boat ride of his life!
Mr P – Mr P is a stalwart of Camp Northland, he has such a kind heart and makes sure that camp has everything it needs to run smoothly. You will also hardly ever see Mr P out without camera, snapping away lots of happy faces.
Rob Abbs – Rob was my main man when it came to making sure that water ski was running smoothly. Rob is the Maintenance Director at Northland and was always there whenever I needed him, whether it was something to do with maintenance side of the boats or dock, to being there for a chat about how camp was going for me.
NYQUEST was always around throughout my summer experience as well. They were there answering emails to questions I had, to visiting their international staff at the camps they had been placed at. I had the privilege of having JC and Camilla come to visit me and the other international staff at Northland. I was able to show them around the camp and share my experiences that I had had so far with them.
Well it’s now been 8 months since I left the gates of Camp Northland and sitting here writing about my experience has brought back so many amazing memories that I will cherish for life. There are still so many more things that I could continue to write about but I would be here forever if that was to happen.
To all of you out there who have applied to be part of the amazing NYQUEST summer camp experience, to those of you who know where your camp placement is and to those of you who are still waiting to find out where your summer camp placement will be. I wish you all the best of luck in having the best summer of your life and to making life long memories and friends, which I know you all will. Give every opportunity that comes your way a go and remember that NYQUEST is always there for you no matter what you need.
In the words of one of The Eagle’s greatest songs – “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. Your summer camp will always hold a special place in your heart and will feel like your second home.