The Interest Group Experience

OCA Connects:
The Interest Group Experience

Introducing The Interest Group Experience! An exciting addition to our conference programming with a line-up of information that will help connect us with CAMP!

We are so fortunate to have such a diverse association all working together to ‘connect’ with this concept that we, as leaders, know as CAMP.

During this special program, delegates will get the chance to connect with the Interest Group of their choice. If more than one staff is attending from your organization, not all staff are required to attend the same Interest Group.

Interest Groups will be selected during registration. Each Interest Group has planned programming to run throughout the entire morning. Once committed to a group, delegates will not have the option to switch.


Facilitated by:
Dave Newnham, President and Executive Director, Tim Horton Children’s Foundation
Andy Gruppe, General Manager, YMCA Wanakita


Facilitated by:
Sari Grossinger, Co-Owner and Director, Camp Robin Hood
Michelle Sirianni, Camp Naorca: City of Toronto

Outdoor Education

Facilitated by:
Jen Dundas, Executive Director, Camp Couchiching
Andre Amiro, Tripping Director, Camp Arowhon


Facilitated by:
Jocelyn Palm, Owner and Director, Glen Bernard Camp
Sol Birenbaum, Co-Owner and Director, Camp Walden

Religiously Affiliated

Facilitated by:
Rich Birch, Executive Director, Camp Mini-Yo-We
Luke LaRocque, Executive Director, Beacon Bible Camp
Joe Richards, Executive Director, Pearce Williams Christian Centre: United Church


Dave and Andy will be leading delegates through three Agency Interest Group case studies including:

Outcomes and Impacts:
You’ll learn tips and tools to help you define, measure and communicate your program outcomes and impacts with stakeholders. A Tim Horton Children’s Foundation case study will be presented followed by a group discussion on the challenges of collecting and measuring impact versus evaluation. Focus group discussions include:

  • challenges in data collection
  • measuring impact vs evaluation
  • building the internal case for camp

Fund Development:
Fundraising trends that impact agency camps will be covered. A YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford fundraising campaign for YMCA Wanakita will be presented followed by a group discussion on sponsorships, grants and new fundraising vehicles that are relevant for your agency camp! Focus group discussions include:

  • individual giving
  • sponsorships and grants (resources and examples will be shared)
  • new fundraising vehicles relevant to agency camps

Collective Impact:
We’ll discuss strategic partnerships you can form that will further your camping objectives, a case study will be presented that exemplifies collaborative partnerships followed by a group discussion on leveraging resources between agencies. Focus group discussions include:

  • risks and opportunities to leverage resources between agencies
  • examples of collaborative partnerships


Join Sari and Michelle for a morning filled with information every Day Camp leader needs!

“Hot Topics” will anchor the Day Camp Interest Group program:

  • how to get parents to read and buy into camp culture and expectations
  • how to cope with parents demands to be overinvolved wanting reports, schedules, pictures, videos, etc.,
  • how to get the information from parents that we need to help their campers be safe and successful, camper/staff recruitment and retention
  • camper/staff recruitment and retention
  • pick up and drop off mayhem (how to combat the “mob” mentality – central pick up points/drop off-pick up times when parents chat amongst themselves)
  • the day camp health centre (vaccinations, sharing of information, protocols, dietary restrictions, ana protocols)
  • the minimum wage challenge and its impact
  • Legislative issues that we have to work around to ensure our camp is compliant and successful
  • and much more!

Special Guest Facilitators:
Corey Szwarcok, Co-Founder/Owner of Everblast Play Company, will initiate unique ice breaker and team-building games to get you off your feet and inspire you with ideas to use at your own camp!

Emma Fogel from The Social Work Consulting Group, MindCALM Program, “Pushing through Discomfort” – Emma will discuss anxiety at camp and how it impacts campers, staff and families. When to push, and when not to. Find out!

A panel discussion will finish off the morning where we’ll meet and chat with professionals in transportation industry. Christine Johnson from Sinton Landmark Bus Lines and Danny Roth from Brandon Communication will be helping to answer all those pressing questions about seatbelts on school buses.

Outdoor Education

The landscape of providing Outdoor Education experiences to students in Ontario has changed significantly the past few years.

A highlight of the Outdoor Education Interest Group will be learning from and questioning “THE ULTIMATE PANEL OF INFLUENCERS IN RISK MANAGEMENT RELATED TO OUTDOOR EDUCATION”.

The Panel will be joining us to help expand our knowledge from their perspective as well as listen to our concerns.

Key individuals participating include:

  • school board representation
  • Ontario Physical & Health Education Association (OPHEA)
  • the Ontario Camps Association (OCA)
  • Ontario Ministry of Education
  • Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario (COEO)
  • A lawyer with experience dealing with outdoor education centres and programs

Each influencer will explain how they currently support and encourage students to attend Ontario’s various outdoor centres. Following this discussion, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with the Panel of Influencers. This time can be used to inform them of challenges outdoor centres face in maneuvering through their processes or anything else you’d like to cover. The final stage will be time for some facilitated questions and answers from our delegates.


Attention Private Camp Directors, Owners & Leaders! Let’s get together to talk about one thing, the Business of Camping!

It’s time to think about the items that will challenge the camp business in the next 5 to 10 years.

As the famous saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you may wind up somewhere else and not even know it”.

If Private Camps are going to be successful in the next 5-10 years, we must ask the tough questions:

  • who’s driving the camp bus (business)?
  • who are the passengers?
  • who’s going to fill the gas tank?
  • where’s the bus going anyway?

We need a GPS! And the Private Camp Interest Group will provide the tools!

Join us on for a 3-hour intensive conversation about where our industry is going and how to get there as the DRIVER, not the PASSENGER, in the most efficient, profitable, and sustainable way.

Religiously Affiliated

Calling all religiously affiliated camps! We have a great opportunity to get together and talk about some core issues that affect us as organizations! This important gathering of camp leaders will provide the chance for learning, discussion and engagement within our community as we tackle a few key workshop topics:

Mental Health from a Faith Perspective
As religious organizations, we have the opportunity to bring a holistic view when supporting campers (and staff!) as they work through struggles relating to mental health. How can we bring our faith to bear on promoting the healthy pursuit of mental health?

Fundraising from a Faith Perspective
Everybody needs funding – how does that affect organizations who need to work with donors and funding bodies like denominations/governing bodies? Join us for practical ideas about reaching out to new funding opportunities and fresh perspectives on old methods that still work quite well!

New OCA Standards
We’re excited to welcome Eric Shendelman, President of the OCA, as we host a facilitated discussion around the new OCA Standards and how they interact with faith values. Specifically: how can camps who hold to values of religious independence and freedom also support and align themselves with the OCA values of integrity, respect, responsibility, inclusiveness, caring, and openness when they welcome campers and staff?

We’re excited to bring a broad range of opinions to the table as we talk about these important areas of camping. Your participation will make it that much better – we’re looking forward to getting together with you.


9:15 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. Thursday, January 24, 2019