Transcript of our interview with Peter, Camp Director
What makes Camp Davern unique compared to others?
What makes our camp unique is that we are not big, but we're small. To borrow the words of Stewart McLaren: We have an intimate camp community, and the size allows for really great connections between our campers, staff, and parents. And we hope to build a strong community from our small numbers.
What type of child is successful at Camp Davern?
The campers who are going to do well at Davern are the ones who are willing to make new friends and try new things. We're a traditional summer camp, but we're also a generalist summer camp. So if you are not the best basketball player or the best canoeist, that's okay. You can learn at Davern, but you don't have to come to Davern with those skills already. We have a lot of first-time campers, so for all of you first-time campers out there, you will be in good company.
Is your schedule structured or is it more open?
Our typical day at Camp Davern involves our morning sessions being scheduled by cabin group, so that every cabin group participates in those flagship activities that you think of at summer camp, such as canoeing, archery, and Rockwall. And that way everyone gets a chance to try out those activities because they might not get to do those at home. Certainly, I don't know anyone who has an archery range in their house. But the afternoon is free choice. So our staff design different unique programs each and every day. And the campers get to pick what they'd like to go to.
That’s anywhere from an advanced canoeing class to a costumed-themed treasure hunt through the woods or even learning how to Scottish line dance. It all depends on the creativity of the counsellors, but it really makes the afternoons fresh and unique.
How do your staff deal with behavioural issues?
Before our staff even get to behavioural issues, we work with our parents to find out strategies that work well for behaviour management at home. And then we inform the staff what's going to work or what has worked in the past so that there's some consistency between home and camp. Additionally, we teach our staff to talk about all the problems with the camper or campers involved and work out some reasonable solution at the camp. Additionally, we have our assistant directors and a resource director who are willing to come in and spend extra time with any group during those rough patches, if need be.
What do campers value the most about their experience at Camp Davern?
I think our staff are incredible. They're super dedicated, and they really do become those camp superheroes that children and campers look up to. Also, our food is amazing. We have an excellent food program. Our small numbers allow for that. And our community, like I mentioned, is small, so there's an intimate connection between everyone involved in camp there.
What message would you give to a child who is attending Camp Davern for the first time?
For anyone coming to camp, whether it be Davern or another summer camp, I just say be open to the experience. It's going to be awesome, it's going to be life-changing, but just be open to it. So at Davern, if you're ready to come and make new friends and try new things, the fun and the character growth and all that other stuff will follow you. Just come ready to play and you'll have a great time.