I am currently sitting on a train travelling from Montreal to Toronto following several days of training we were privileged to run for Camp Ouareau, an all-girls residential camp in the breathtaking Laurentian Mountains of Quebec.
As all camping professionals know, the issues facing children and teens today are staggering. The stress and pressures our young people confront every day combined with cultural changes that have left so many of them in a 'virtual' haze have stolen their childhoods and made them grow up all too soon. As the two of us spent time preparing for our training sessions, the enormity of the task we all face once again took front and centre stage in my mind. My thoughts were clouded with concerns, wondering where our future generations are headed, hoping against hope that is not too late.
And then I met the The Leadership Team of Ouareau. For two very intense and long days, we chewed over issues such as body image, media stereotypes, nature deficit disorder, and dozens more. The level of their knowledge on the topics - astounding. The heart with which they approached their training - remarkable.
This group of women, university students or recent graduates, seasoned travellers and camp veterans are working from sunrise past sunset, day in and day out to prepare for the hundreds of girls who will be in their care this summer. They are developing lessons, activities, programmes, even menus with sensitivity and creative zeal. This connected supportive team with decades of combined camp experience is eager to begin another summer, another season where they will provide their campers with a safe, exciting, experiential learning adventure focused on making each person feel valued and important and building the self-esteem of every child and staff member. And they are doing it with great joy.
The more time I spent with them, the more I began to relax. The clouds began to lift and the worries to disappear. For not only did they fill me with confidence, they helped me to remember they are only one of thousands of leadership teams across the country and around the world who are currently focusing their energy on preparation for the arrival of their own campers.
This summer, the women of Ouareau celebrate their 90th year. We congratulate the Raill Family - Jacqui, Don, Gabrielle, Morgan and Chad - and all their staff and alumni on their 'almost-century' long dedication to providing the best in camping. We thank them for creating a phenomenally beautiful place where people of all ages feel welcomed, loved and cherished.
And we thank you too -- all of you -- for your endless work and tireless efforts to quite literallychange the world. Our children are indeed in very good hands.