a group of people sitting on a bench watching campfire

October 11, 2023

A Camp as Unique as the Children It Supports

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5 mins read

Jacob Island, ON

Camp Maple Leaf, an Energizing Life recipient, is uniting children with similar life experiences to help them create beautiful memories and life-long friendships.

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The critical role first responders play within local communities is undeniable.

These brave individuals confront danger head on, often risking their lives for the safety of the public and the betterment of the community. Working long hours in a mentally and physically stressful environment is not only challenging for first responders and military members but also for their families.

Families of these brave individuals witness first-hand the daily sacrifices their loved ones make in order to support Canadians. Children watch as their parents head into the unknown, unable to comprehend what’s happening or even whether their mom or dad will make it home that day. First responders face a high risk of work-based injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or, tragically, even death. As a result, their children’s future and psychological well-being can be forever affected. Confusion, anxiety and grief can take a toll on young minds, leaving them to grapple with emotions much greater than any child should ever have to endure.

Camp Maple Leaf offers a shining beacon of hope for children of first responders and military members. The camp also welcomes children with other unique needs, such as Down syndrome, dwarfism, skin disorders and Tourette’s. Additionally, the not-for-profit sleep-away camp specializes in creating a safe haven for grieving children, helping them navigate traumatic loss and develop effective coping mechanisms to guide them through extreme hardships. Children who share similar life experiences attend the camp together, allowing them to build camaraderie and form friendships through the support they receive from one another as well as the camp counselors.

"It’s amazing how quickly children become comfortable at camp … how quickly they open up to one another. We consider that type of friendship the best form of peer support."
Photo of April Young
April Young,
Director, Camp Maple Leaf

With support from the Energizing Life Community Fund, Camp Maple Leaf developed the Increasing Access Initiative to welcome even more children from across Ontario to attend camp and benefit from the incredible support it offers. The counselors at Camp Maple Leaf are experienced and compassionate, most having endured similar hardships themselves. In fact, a number of these counselors were former camp attendees in their youth. The counselors make great efforts to instill the children with the values of kindness and respect, encouraging them to carry those principles through their teen years and into adulthood.

Supporting Struggling Youths

Camp Maple Leaf offers the following tips to help support youths become secure and dependable adults:

  • Assume that children mean well, and give them the benefit of the doubt. This will challenge them to live up to and even beyond your expectations.
  • Respect children as people. Remember that they are still learning how to self regulate and understand the world and experiences around them.
  • Give children the opportunity to help others and support them in pursuing their passions. This will instill a strong sense of purpose within them.
  • Celebrate what makes each child unique.
  • Offer as many options as possible, and involve them in the problem-solving process.
  • Compliment children often and commend their efforts, backing your words up with reasoning. This way, your praise will resonate with them rather than be seen as empty flattery.

a child with blue paint on her face and a blue shirt
Watch the video to see how Camp Maple Leaf is changing lives by supporting youths with unique family-life experiences.

For more information on Camp Maple Leaf, visit www.CampMapleLeaf.ca.

Camp Maple Leaf: (905) 338-5200

The Energizing Life Community Fund

Hydro One is committed to supporting organizations and communities by funding projects that focus on the physical, psychological and emotional safety and well-being of Ontarians.

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