Summer camps as a family tradition

History helps shape a new generation of campers


Summer camp is a tradition in many families across Canada and the US. For example, for Mara, a counsellor at Camp Arowhon, the ties to the past are strong. They have helped her crystallize her career choice while at the same time define herself as an individual. Amazingly, Mara is now in her 14th year at Arowhon, where she has "camp roots that dig deep."

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I'm the fourth generation here. My great-grandmother started the camp in 1934. This is "officially" my 14th year here, but actually, I’ve been camping since I was six.

I'm in charge of girls aged seven to 10. I started off with 43, but half have just left after two weeks and the rest are staying for the full month.

I'm studying environment policy at the University of Toronto and, through U of T, I'm spending a year in Paris studying sustainable development. More and more, I’m realizing that this is basically my life. There’s nothing I love more than being in a beautiful place working with kids. The little things I do can make the biggest difference. So when I'm done with school, I want to have something to do with summer camp.

When I was 17, I really didn’t want to blindly follow in my mom’s footsteps. I took some time off to do my own thing. And then I realized . . . camp is it.

For Shankar, age 11, in his second year at Camp Hurontario, the annual voyage from his home in Lexington, Kentucky, is well worth the trip. Part of the reason the journey northward is comfortable for him comes from the fact that "all the boys in my family have come here."

I especially like tripping. Not tripping people - though that can be fun - but tripping means going out in a canoe and camping for five days. It's what we're setting off to do today. You can build up experience coming back here every year. In two years, I could be able to go tripping on the French River and maybe progress right up to the Arctic and Labrador.

The food's good here, especially the Rice Krispies squares that the counsellors make. But it tastes better when you make it yourself - a great big squishy ball of Rice Krispies.

Shankar and Mara are just two children from families keeping a tradition of attending summer camp.

Timothy Goodwin is the third generation of Goodwins to attend Camp Pathfinder. Jimmy D Gray is a third generation camper whose family started at Tanamakoon and continues at Camp Ponacka near Bancroft, Ontario. He loves the way camp lets him "meet kids from all over the world." The camping tradition held onto by these families was covered in "What Camp is All About: Old Traditions and New Friends".

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