Thanks to Kamp Kiwanis

 Drawing from a thank you card from Kamp Kiwanis participants

Drawing from a thank you card from Kamp Kiwanis participants

In the midst of the adventures going on at summer camp or outdoor school, we notice the connections our staff are making with students and campers.  We see the relationships forming between kids and nature and the building of community in cabin groups. We hear the laughter during skits and the questions pondered about how ecosystems work.  We feel the sense of calm during nature nooks (journaling spots) and the warm embraces from kids as they depart after “the most stellar summer camp week of their lives.”  But what about after camp or outdoor school is done?  What kind of lasting impact have we made?  This is perhaps one of the hardest things to measure or even place a value on.

mirror_1.jpg

Thanks to Camp

The Thanks to Camp movement is an initiative from the Canadian Camping Association (CCA) aiming to promote the positive impact camp has had in the lives of millions across the country. Gabrielle Raill and Stéphane Richard, both camp professionals, wanted to find a concrete way to show that camp is more than just fun, it actually helps children grow, and gives them all kinds of tools to succeed in life. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, along with their team and dozens of participating camps, they gathered stories from campers, parents, staff and alumni, completing the sentence “Thanks to camp…” In the fall of 2017, these stories were used for a social media campaign, as a prelude to a country-wide marketing campaign (a first for the CCA!) in late winter. Just in time to let new families learn about the joys of camp before registration season! For more information on Thanks to Camp please visit www.thankstocamp.ca 

sharing_2.jpg

This summer Kamp Kiwanis joined the movement interested in why our campers, staff, outdoor school participants and teachers are thankful for camp and especially how Kamp Kiwanis has made a positive impact on their lives.  You can let us know by completing the sentence "Thanks to Kamp Kiwanis..."

1.     Using the hashtags #ThanksToKampKiwanis and  #thankstocamp and tagging @KampKiwanis in your social media posts on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter

2.     Emailing us your story at community@kampkiwanis.ca

Your post or testimonial could be featured on Kamp Kiwanis Social media, in future blogs or in promotional material.

 

Here are some of testimonials we have received about Kamp Kiwanis:

Thanks to Kamp Kiwanis I travelled the right path and have a future. Words cannot express how Kamp has had a profound impact on my life! I was kamper, staff, and now an alumni. At Kamp I discovered who I am and the unlimited dreams that can become reality. I learned to believe in myself. I discovered life long friendships that support one another through good and dark times. I discovered my passion for the outdoors and working with kids. Without Kamp, I'd be lost. Heather

Thanks to Kamp Kiwanis I met some of the most supportive people in the world to help me on my journey of self acceptance. I probably would have have a much more turbulent and less supportive coming out story if Kamp Kiwanis did not exist. I wouldn’t have learned my passion for influencing young lives for the better. Josh

 Written by Brittany

Written by Brittany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Kamp Kiwanis I was given the chance to change the lives of amazing children. Brittany

I have no idea where I’d be. I wouldn't have half the confidence and ambition I have now. I wouldn't be studying to become a teacher. I wouldn't have met so many amazing children and staff. Kamp Kiwanis changed my life and thousands of others. Thanks Kamp Kiwanis. Morgan

Thanks to Kamp Kiwanis I am a better person who has discovered a passion for working with youths, and I have learned to live lightly on the earth! Kamp Kiwanis was a major turning point in my life! In fact, it represents the biggest turning point of my life and set me on the path of being a teacher. Without it, I don't want to think of where I might be. I was in a dark place when I decided to go for broke, travel across the country from New Brunswick, and work at Kamp! First time away from home, making friends, finding out what I was capable of. I have made friendships and had experiences that will last a lifetime! Paul

Thanks to Kamp Kiwanis for starting my journey as a leader. I was gifted a trip to the leadership camp in 1998 and from there was. LITE, and then a maintenance person, a counsellor and a board member. Kamp initiated my relationship with nature, with other incredible leaders and my relationship with service work for children and youth. I successfully manage programs for a nonprofit today where I continue to use the concepts and teachings gifted to me around the fire, through experience and through sharing space...all at KK!! Jody

I loved Kamp Kiwanis so much, it has become part of my life and a home for me. I made lots of friends and memories at Kamp Kiwanis. In my opinion Kamp is the best place on earth and it's a great place to be. I love Kamp so much. The counsellors make you feel welcome and feel at home. I will never forget Kamp, the people I have met and the memories I have made. Camper

The place is lit! I mean it’s a perfect place to make friends and to like experience nature and man, the food there is alright, except for the drink. They only give you like a small portion of juice and for anyone doing a job they get more. It’s cool though. I loved being there. It was an amazing time. The pool and PBK (Polar Bear Klub), man, it was lit. We got to go to the pool in the morning, but we did go at night once. It was fun. Our counsellors were Platypus and Moose. They were amazing people and I miss them so, so, so, so much. I hope to see them again for leadership camp. Camper

One of my favourite childhood memories. I would send my kids there in a heartbeat! Former Camper

The staff was amazing. This was my son’s first time attending camp. And they were all above and beyond amazing. ❤️❤️ Parent

The past few days at Kamp Kiwanis for Outdoor School have been an amazing and unimaginable experience for myself, our staff and most importantly "our kids".  I refer to them as "our kids" because that is truly how we, as a school community feel about every one of them.  To come to a place that not only shares this belief, but practices it every single day was so rewarding and touching to see and be a part of. Your staff were remarkably accommodating and caring to the needs of our kids:  Everything from helping with cuts/nose bleeds to randomly peeling apples, washing dirty clothes/sleeping bags or providing a shoulder to cry on, you and your staff did it all and never once complained or rolled an eye.  There are hundreds more examples of how all of the Kamp staff went out of their way to give our kids the best week possible.  I have heard from numerous students that this was the best week of their lives.  Knowing their back stories and having seen their remarkable growth/successes over the past few days, I believe them when they make such a large statement. The care and support that you and the staff provided to our Special Needs kids was not only remarkable but heartwarming.  Adapting to the needs of these complex kids is difficult at the best of times.  Whether it was yourself, playing guitar until a bunk of boys fell asleep each night or "Fox" jumping in on day one to support one of the most "stacked" bunk groups there could ever possibly be.  Whatever was needed, the counsellors and staff were there to help. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU...FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, THANK YOU. I think the highlight of my time here was during the final camp fire.   A skit was taking place where one of the staff was pretending to be on a roller-coaster (little did she know, the Kampers were imagining her on a toilet).  I looked across the fire to one of our kids, who suffers from severe social-anxiety causing a form of select-mutism.  He was smiling and laughing.  I have known this child for 2 years and have never once seen him laugh and smile.  Kamp allowed him the opportunity to forget about everything back home and simply be a kid.  This is what I have learned Kamp is all about. Please do not ever forget the impact that this place has on kids. I commend you for your leadership and guidance with the staff.  They are an amazing group of young people who have exciting futures ahead of them.  It is people like those who work at Kamp Kiwanis who make the world a better place, one kid at a time. Thank you so much and please pass along my most sincere gratitude to each and every counsellor/staff member. Assistant Principal from an Outdoor School Experience at Kamp Kiwanis

 

 

 

 

 

Kamp Kiwanis Traditions

symbols.png

Many of my fun memories of summer camp experiences over the past 35 years are integrally tied to the long-standing traditions of those camps: favourite campfire songs, dining hall skits and cheers, stories and jokes passed on through the ages, final night activities and even daily routines and chores.  Experiencing camp traditions helped me to build character and a love for camp life. For those camps that I returned to year after year, traditions filled me with excited anticipation to see them unfold again, each time through a slightly different lens as new staff or groups of campers added their own unique style to presenting them.

 K-Poles

K-Poles

Kamp Kiwanis first opened in 1951 and many of the traditions established in those first few years continue, 66 years later.  As you wander through the buildings, you can’t help but notice the wooden K-poles that line many of the walls.  The first K-pole was created in 1951 and hangs to this day in Parkinson.  Each K-pole commemorates a session of Kamp Kiwanis by listing the names of all the kampers and staff in attendance.  They all have the 2 K’s for Kamp Kiwanis at the top and often are designed around the theme of the session with a quote to remember that session by.  Traditionally, K-poles were engraved by wood-burning, but through creative freedom have expanded to include painting and other media to suit the theme.

As Kampers arrive at Kamp Kiwanis, staff ring the Kamp Bell for each vehicle’s arrival and each vehicle is greeted by friendly staff to welcome them to Kamp Kiwanis.  Prior to the early 2000s the Kamp Bell was a buzzer on the side of Watson, one of the buildings.  The bell is much nicer on the ears! Every morning of Kamp begins with the raising of the Canada flag, singing of the national anthem and a thought of the day (unless a kabin group is on an out-trip).  Occasionally the Canadian Flag and anthem has been substituted for by another country, usually home to one of our international staff members.

 Handy Andy, the original first Teddy Bear given to the Kabin that was the most helpful that day.

Handy Andy, the original first Teddy Bear given to the Kabin that was the most helpful that day.

Every evening also ends at the flagpole with the lowering of the flag while “Taps” is sung.  After the flag lowering ceremonies, kabins are presented with teddy bears to recognize their efforts. Of course, over the years the teddies have been replaced as needed due to wear and tear, but some of the names have stuck. “Handy Andy,” the first nightly teddy bear on record is still given to recognize the kabin group that is the most helpful.  A newer tradition since the mid 2000s is the nightly “Sleepy Time Thought” where one of the staff will read a short story, anecdote or quote before sending the kampers off to their kabins.

 

Daily routines have evolved over the years at Kamp Kiwanis as new activities have been introduced, but some of the long-standing ones have been:

  • Dining hall chants and cheers
  • Daily kabin group chores, formerly known as Knowannos and now known as (K)iwannas (the K is silent), teaching responsibility and pride in areas of Kamp that kampers use
  • Kabin Inspection, where each kabin is visited by some unusual characters in dress-up clothes
  • UP time (or unscheduled play time), a chance for kampers to choose an afternoon activity from a few options
  • Nightly kamp-wide activities such as wide games, theme games or pool parties
  • Kampfires with kabin cheers, The Kamp Cheer, songs and skits
  • Once during the kamp session, each kabin group gets to experience an overnight kamping experience or out trip in the forest on our site along the Elbow River

Each session of Kamp Kiwanis has an opening kampfire the first evening preceded by the torch light parade where each kamper can carry their own kerosene torch to the Kiwano Ring (K-Ring) Kampfire circle.  At the Closing Kampfire on the last evening of Kamp, Kampers are reminded of the 6 symbols of Kamp that represent our important values (wildlife, environment, being active, friendship, community and safety) as resource staff carry the symbols and torches to light the path to the K-Ring.  Kampfires traditionally open with the song “Fire’s Burning” and end with the Kamp Kiwanis Song and “Kum-Ba-Yah.” 

 Torch Light Parade

Torch Light Parade

Each kampfire includes a “Peanut,” a witty skit put on by the staff that follows a basic formula, but can be planned or more often improvised.  The Peanut starts after or more commonly interrupts the song “Found a Peanut” and is a fun way to make announcements about the weather, events happening at Kamp, to give recognition and to drop hints to possible upcoming events…juicy, juicy, juicy!  Welcoming guests that visit is part of the opening and closing kampfires.  Closing Kampfire also includes the unveiling of the session’s K-Pole and a goodbye song from staff to kampers.

 Peanut Skit Crew preparing for Kampfire

Peanut Skit Crew preparing for Kampfire

Perhaps one of the most memorable traditions at Kamp Kiwanis is the PBK (Polar Bear Klub) in which kabins are woken up before the regular wakeup call with shouts from the resource staff and sometimes banging on pots and pans, bells or horns.  The first kabin group to get all their members including kounsellors into the swimming pool wins the PBK.  In the early years, kabin groups had to run and jump in the creek that flowed behind the kabins.

 Dinner at Northbend on the Elbow River

Dinner at Northbend on the Elbow River

There are even traditions unique to certain Kamp Sessions. Senior Kamps (for those kampers finished grade 6), have Tux Dinner the last evening of Kamp.  Kampers and staff dress-up and have a more formal meal to celebrate the week. Sometimes the meal is integrated with the theme and costumes range from red-carpet worthy to just fun and silly.  Some sessions get to experience a kampfire side dinner at North Bend, one of our camping sites on the Elbow River or Kiwannaval (Carnival type day) or movie night.  Staff even have their own traditions, such as the annual Jacks Tournament where staff compete to win a coveted trophy.

Every kamper goes home with their own souvenirs of Kamp, as they make a wood-cookie name tag the first day of Kamp, receive a KK T-shirt and go home with tons of memories and lots of new friends.As you can see in the reading of this blog, at Kamp Kiwanis we also swap out a lot of C’s for K’s too, another tradition of ours.

 Happy Kampers with their Kamp T-shirts

Happy Kampers with their Kamp T-shirts

Being that Kamp Kiwanis is a camp that has now served a few generations of kampers, it is not uncommon to hear that the kids of past kampers or even grandkids and great grandkids of past kampers are attending Kamp Kiwanis.  In speaking to these past kampers it is amazing to hear that some of the traditions they remember are still part of Kamp Kiwanis today.  One time a delivery truck driver stopped and asked if we still had all the K-Poles and if he could look and find his name on it.  At an open house, a relative of a kamper remembered coming to Kamp Kiwanis herself as a child.  She told us that for years after Kamp she would use stones, sticks or blocks, whatever she could find, to help her recreate the layout of the kabins and buildings at Kamp Kiwanis on the ground so she would never forget the amazing week she spent here.

Kamp Kiwanis has certainly changed in the last 66 years, but at the heart of Kamp many traditions remain and make Kamp the memorable place it is in the hearts of former kampers and staff

 The original Kiwano Ring (Kampfire Circle)

The original Kiwano Ring (Kampfire Circle)

 A more recent photo of the Kiwano Ring

A more recent photo of the Kiwano Ring

Written by Jenn Radder

Jenn has attended summer camps since the age of 5 and nearly 35 years later is still drawn to camp life.  She has been involved with Kamp Kiwanis and all its traditions since 2000 and is currently the Development Coordinator.

Family Day Nature Fun in Snow or Sun

Family Day Nature Fun in Snow or Sun

Whether it’s a snowy or sunny forecast (or maybe both), getting outside to share the beauty of nature is a perfect way to spend time with the family this Alberta Family Day!   At Kamp Kiwanis we are always looking for ways to get outside and share the outdoor experience with families.  Here are two activities for any age that you can try while out on a nature walk or even in your own backyard or local natural space.

Welcome to the Daily Peanut

Welcome to the first post in the Daily Peanut. The Daily Peanut is produced each day during the summer at Kamp Kiwanis to keep campers and staff informed of upcoming events, camp success stories and celebrations. It also provides campers with opportunities for input through songs, stories and opinions.

This blog is the digital version of the Daily Peanut! We will be using this space to post all sorts of things relating to the programs, people, events, or other various things we hold dear to our hearts at Kamp Kiwanis.

We hope that you will all enjoy our little corner of the internet.

Tune in next time .... same kamp time .... same kamp channel!

Chris "Raven" Sheasby