The Wenonah Warbler newsletter is sent to members of the Camp Wenonah community three times each year.
Welcome to the new Warbler e-newsletter! For close to 25 years, the Warbler newsletter landed in mailboxes around the world annually and shared the latest stories about Camp with Wenonah community members.
As we look for new ways to stay in touch with Camp families, staff, alumni, and friends, we look forward to sharing this new digital version of the Warbler three times each year - in January, April, and November. The Warbler, as always, continues to feature the same great stories and news about Camp.
This first edition of the digital Warbler includes an update from our COVID-19 Task Force, a preview of new offerings for the Wenonah Outdoors Spring season, a profile of Senior Director Jennifer "JJ" Jupp, the introduction of our new Wenonah Cares initiative in support of Project: Humanity, and lots more.
The last few months have been difficult for many of the communities around the world that are home to Wenonah families. The challenges for everyone, but especially for kids, have been significant. Still, we are looking forward to brighter days ahead and we are eagerly anticipating and planning for a special season at Camp in 2021.
In preparation for the 2021 season, we have been busy. To highlight some of the things we've been working on, we have:
- Renovated and refurbished Barb's Place into a new Library & Wellness Centre
- Invested in significant landscaping to prevent erosion around Camp, including on the Boys' cabin line
- Completed an overhaul of the East Point (Main Campfire) including all new benches
- Created new outside mealtime space for cabin groups around the Lodge
- Prepared the space for a new 90 x 30 foot marquee tent for use by the WCITs, POLARIS and ROOTS beginning in 2021
- Purchased 15 new picnic tables
- Purchased ten new canoes and 15 new paddleboards to add to our existing fleet
- Installed new gates and fences along the Camp road and have a new welcome sign at the front of the property
- Continued our cabin painting initiative with all cabins scheduled for a major new coat before Summer 2021
- Installed new stainless steel counters in the kitchen
- Rebuilt many of our original tabins to establish new WCIT and Staff Villages
We are also in the midst of completing staff hiring for the 2021 season. We are so excited that 64 staff who were hired for the 2020 season have expressed interest in returning for 2021, and that we received over 50 new staff applications in the early going (including dozens from former WCITs and POLARIS) for our first round of staff hiring. The Warbler in April will include a full list of our 2021 staff team, and we will introduce key staff members on our Instagram and Facebook pages over the coming weeks and months.
On behalf of the Wenonah Management Team, we extend our best wishes to your family for a happy and healthy 2021. Here's to brighter days ahead!
Owner / Executive Director
Update from the COVID-19 Task Force
Wenonah's COVID-19 Task Force is preparing for the 2021 season. We know that kids need Camp more than ever. Our goal is to do everything we can to manage COVID-19 risks and keep Wenonah safe.
The Task Force members are:
- Chair: Tom Appleyard (Ontario Emergency Management Consultant / Wenonah Camp Consultant)
- Katerina Podolak (Lead: COVID-19 Testing, Ontario Health)
- Brent Diverty (Vice President, Canadian Institute for Health Information)
- Nancy Vandenbergh (Nurse Practitioner, COVID Response, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre / Wenonah Director of Health & Wellness)
- Jeff Bradshaw (Wenonah Owner & Executive Director)
Tom and Jeff continue to participate on the Executive Committee of the Ontario Camps Association's COVID-19 Task Force. Through this work, we are in communication with Ontario's public health and government decision makers. In addition, we are working with other camp leaders to monitor for and identify the best ways for camps to mitigate risks well this summer. Tom is leading the development of the Ontario Camps Association's COVID-19 Field Guide, which will outline all these strategies for the 450+ camps in Ontario. The Task Force and Wenonah's Management Team will make decisions as this information comes into focus and the Summer approaches.
Some of the issues we are watching carefully and working on include:
A top priority for the Task Force is ensuring that Camp families and staff have all the information they need. You can always find our latest information on the Wenonah website, or by getting in touch.
- Camp Wenonah and other overnight camps have some significant built-in protection from COVID-19 given the "bubbled" (outside, isolated) nature of the community we build each summer. We know that Camp may look a bit different this year, with strategies including screening and health checks, cohorting, use of masks, disinfection, and hand hygiene. As the Summer approaches, we are consulting with experts to identify what the mix of protective measures at Wenonah should be. Based on this, we expect to make changes to some Camp policies and procedures, such as Camper and Staff Codes of Conduct, visitors, and pick-up and drop-off procedures.
- COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out to vulnerable populations this Spring and health officials are planning widespread immunization. While this is a positive turning point in the pandemic, given the timing of the vaccine roll-out, we will not assume campers have been vaccinated for COVID-19.
- We know testing will help us to ensure we catch any disease quickly, so that we can prevent any spread. Ontario recently started using rapid tests for children at school, and we will use any learnings from school testing to inform our approach.
- Our current planning assumptions include our usual complement of campers and staff from outside Canada at Camp this summer. We are closely watching developments with Canadian entry requirements, and will update when we have more guidance on requirements and best practice.
- We plan to have even more dedicated Health & Wellness staff this year.
Staff Spotlight: Jennifer "JJ" Jupp
After over ten years as a Director at Camp Wanapitei, and over ten years prior to that as a Director at Camp Arowhon, JJ brings a wealth of experience to her role at Wenonah. JJ continues to contribute in significant ways as a leader in Canadian camping as she began her second term on the Ontario Camps Association Board of Directors earlier this month.
We wanted to help campers, families, and staff get to know JJ a bit better, so she answered some of our questions as part of the first in our new Staff Spotlight series.
Tell us a bit about your job at Wenonah...
JJ: As the Senior Director - Experience, I focus my time and energy on the Camp experience of each camper at Camp Wenonah. I take an active role in staff hiring at this time of the year. At Camp, I'll be on the ground supporting the care and well-being of campers and the staff who work with them. I also zero in on Camp program (the instructional and recreational activities) and support the staff who teach and play with the campers at all of our program areas.
How would your friends and family describe you?
JJ: I think my friends and family would describe me as caring and kind. I think they would also say that I never give up (tenacious!), that I go the extra mile in all that I do, and that I find solutions to challenges.
What do you enjoy most about being a Camp Director?
JJ: Oh gosh, am I allowed to say "everything"?! If I had to choose, I guess I would say that I enjoy being a witness to the growth of others - to seeing them become who they want to be.
What have you learned about the Wenonah community over the last year?
JJ: I have learned that the Wenonah community is awesome. And I mean that in the literal meaning of the word - extremely impressive, inspiring great admiration. The Wenonah community is impressive in its loyalty, love, and dedication to Wenonah. If I could characterize it, I would say that the community is generous, loving, capable, and full of optimism.
What are you looking forward to at Camp this Summer?
JJ: I am looking forward to being together, most importantly! I'm looking forward to helping to create a space where children can be children. To be together in a space where children and youth are the most important people "in the room". I'm looking forward to the sounds around us at Camp - laughter, shouts of joy, cheers of support for others, splashes from playing in the water, arrows hitting the target - the sounds that are the opposite of isolation and sitting in front of screens.
JJ's favourite camp song: "Rocks and Trees"
JJ's favourite comfort food: Popcorn
JJ's favourite camp activity: I can't choose! Not fair. Favourite large group activity is campfire; regular activity is sailing
JJ's Wenonah Games team: Go Zibbins!
TV show that JJ recently binged: Outlander
JJ's dream vacation destination: New Zealand
JJ's hidden talent: I play the alto sax
Celebrating 25 Years!
Mark your calendar for the weekend of November 5 - 7, 2021 as we celebrate Wenonah's 25th anniversary. That weekend will be highlighted by a gala evening on Saturday, November 6 at the Oakville Conference Centre (which also hosted our 20th anniversary celebration in 2016).
We'll share more details about the anniversary weekend, and other ways we are celebrating 25 years at Wenonah, in the months ahead.
To mark Wenonah's 25th anniversary season in 2021, we are pleased to announce a new charitable initiative to support some of the meaningful work that is taking place in our communities.
As part of our Wenonah Cares mission, each year we are partnering with a charitable organization that works with and benefits children. Through these partnerships, our hope is to support an organization with funding or gifts-in-kind support. We will also share with our Camp community the good work that these organizations are doing to make our communities better.
With that, we are pleased to announce our charitable partner for the 2021 season - Project: Humanity.
Project: Humanity (PH) is a socially-engaged theatre company founded in 2008 that uses the arts to bring together disconnected groups, to help people listen more compassionately, and catalyze meaningful change by inspiring active citizenship.
In the weeks leading up to our Summer PreCamp staff training in late June, we are pleased to be unveiling new opportunities for families and others to enjoy some time at Camp!
Special options for multi-day stays include cabin rentals for families and for adults, and a special weekend for young professionals and millennials.
Check your inbox in early April for more information on our new Wenonah Outdoors programs, including dates and booking details.
At Camp, our key staff leaders gather together for a Round Up meeting to prepare for the day ahead.
In each edition of the Warbler, we'll borrow that term to 'Round Up' other items of interest to share with you!
- Looking for the latest news from Wenonah about our plans for a COVID Safe Summer? Bookmark the COVID-19 page on our website and check back often as we share more information in the months ahead.
- Please remember to update your address book with our new mailing address! In the Fall, as we had already transitioned to virtual work full time for our Management Team, we closed our Burlington Office. Please update our mailing address to:
PO Box 81240 Fiddlers Green
Ancaster, ON L9G 4X2
- Did your family select the Priority Fee Installment Plan as a fee option? Don't forget that your final payment is due by February 15. Payments can be made by e-transfer or our new Electronic Funds Transfer feature (more below!). International families can reach out to us for other payment options.
- Over the next few weeks, we are pleased that we will be adding a new payment option to our registration system. Thanks to our friends at CampBrain, families with a Canadian bank account will soon be able to login to their family account and pay their fees using an electronic funds transfer (EFT). Similar to an e-transfer, an EFT allows you to pay your Camp fees directly from your bank account.
- As we prepare for Summer Camp, we are planning on sending our Final Forms & Details package to registered families in May. This package includes all the information you need to plan and prepare for your child's time at Wenonah. You'll also find several forms (including a health form, transportation form, cabinmate request form, and more) with this package. We will preview our Final Forms & Details package in the April edition of the Warbler digital newsletter
- The vast majority of Summer Camp Periods are now full with wait lists. We typically see some movement on the wait lists between March and May each year, so please have any interested friends or family add their names to the wait list so they don't miss out!
The following Periods all have less than ten spots available:
- July Camp (Boys & Girls)
- Period One (Girls spots only)
- Period Two (Boys spots only)
- Period Three (Boys spots only)
- Period Four (Boys spots only)
- WEEnonah #1, 2, 3 (Boys spots only)
- ROOTS - Period One, Two, and Three (Boys & Girls), Period Four and August Camp (Boys spots only)
- POLARIS - July Camp (Boys spots only) and August Camp (Boys & Girls)
- WCIT - July Camp (Boys & Girls)