Q&A with Genevieve: Y City Inclusion Camp Director

GenevieveInclusion Camp Director

What have you planned for the kids this summer?

We’ve planned a range of activities which are all taught by specialists including swimming every day, sports, art, dance, lots of time in the park of course, and baking challah! The opportunity to swim in our amazing pool is especially exciting since many campers have not had much access to pools over the past couple years. So by swimming everyday our campers will feel so much more confident in the water by the end of camp. There are also some really fun excursions planned every session and of course lots of new friends to be made!

What makes Y City Inclusion Camp different than other camps?

Our camp is different precisely because it’s an inclusion camp. Our Inclusion camp doesn’t run beside mainstream camp, but rather as an integral part of Y City Camp. Across the camp everyone’s needs and camp experiences are considered and responded to.

How do you adapt the activities for the camper’s individual needs?

Through our intake process, we are able to get to know our campers and their families in order to have a holistic picture of how best to engage with them at camp. With their families, campers have the opportunity to come visit the Y before camp begins to walk through the space and get a feel for what a day at camp might look like.

Each camper will spend their day with a companion (in a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio) who I will personally assign to them based on who I think they will have a good connection with. This companion is with them all session and is there to help adapt activities and the routine as needed. For example, this might mean exiting a space that is too stimulating and spending a moment in our sensory room. Or it could mean greater physical assistance or guidance while in dance class.

As I just mentioned we will have a sensory room where campers can come to have a moment of calm rest, or to read or play.

And of course I am always available to communicate with campers and their families before or during camp to address anything that comes up, and share how camp is going!

 What are the skills your Inclusion Counselors have to ensure that the camper feel they are in a safe and inclusive space?

I think most importantly we hire staff who have a desire to be at inclusion camp and who share our values and goals of inclusion. Our staff are friendly faces who love camp and they care about creating a fun environment for everyone.

Before camp begins we train all our staff, not just our inclusion staff, with practical tools and methods and for creating an environment and a routine which can be adapted for any of our campers, so that they can engage in a meaningful way with our activities and with their peers. Inclusion is practiced by all staff and campers at Y City Camp which is an integral part of what our camp is about.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

For myself, I’m excited to be able to really get to know our campers and see them develop their skills and create new friendships. Our sessions are 2 weeks long, and some campers are with us for multiple sessions which is even better! 2 weeks is a great amount of time to really get into an art project, or learn a new swim skill, and most importantly make strong, lasting friendships.

What’s your favourite thing about camp?

Camp is all the best things that we love about school and extracurriculars, but at camp you get to do it all day, all summer, while having as much fun as possible. I really feel that arts and sports are so important to raising dynamic, confident kids and youth and at camp we get to work on those things by having as much fun as possible and by making connections with people.

What’s #1 tip on making new friends?

 I try to remember that everyone is as nervous as you are to make new friends! But you’ll never regret saying hello first, or asking to eat lunch with someone new – I think everyone appreciates a new friendly face.

What’s #1 thing you would pack for a day at camp?

I like to always have a good dance playlist on hand in case of a spontaneous dance party!

To learn more about Y City Camps, click here.