Each year we receive feedback from hundreds of campers, parents, staff and experts in various fields. On this page, we’re sharing some of our most recent the expert testimonials, so you can get a sense for the esteem, growth and social skills benefits a summer at our camp can provide.
Camps that specifically cater to kids with special needs not only offer both peace of mind to parents, but also provide a wonderful summer experience for kids. Experts praise Camp Kennebec’s camper-first approach and how it meets and exceeds standards of care to ensure that campers are in a safe, but engaging environment that helps children with special needs excel.
I came across Camp Kennebec while Googling summer nursing student positions in early 2016. I had a virtual interview with Rob and before I knew it, I had accepted an offer to work in the Camp Kennebec healthcare centre in Arden, Ontario for the summer. I had never been to summer camp myself, however with my love of the outdoors and three years of nursing school under my belt, I figured it would be a good fit, and boy was I right! Driving down camp road for the first time that June, I had no idea that this job and this place would forever change my life. Camp Kennebec has helped me grow into both a better person, as well as a better healthcare professional. Through my experiences at Camp Kennebec, I have learned that EVERYONE should have the opportunity to just be a kid. Rob, Donz, and Elle often allude to camp as being a bunch of empty buildings, and it is the staff and campers that fill those buildings with the magic that is camp. I could not agree with this statement more, and I can honestly say that the Camp Kennebec staff has truly become family. Working in the healthcare center for the last four summers, first as a student and then as a registered nurse, I have gotten to know most campers quite well.
Our campers are some of the strongest people I know, and their perseverance and energy in the face of adversity is contagious. I have been able to build relationships with them and look forward to seeing how far they have come each summer. As a new nurse, I can’t speak highly enough of the learning experiences that camp has given me. I have developed valuable critical thinking, leadership, communication, and teamwork skills that I have been able to take with me to my bedside nursing job in critical care. Rob, Donz, and Elle; thank you for taking a chance on an enthusiastic nursing student four years ago, because I cannot imagine my life without camp. Overall, I would suggest that anyone that has the opportunity, should spend a summer (or multiple summers) under the Kennebec sun and experience the magic for themselves.
Amelia M. RN, CHEO Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
I started working at Camp Kennebec as a fairly new nurse in 2016. I always knew that my dream job would involve working with kids and youth, so I knew that I needed to get more experience under my belt to make my dream job a reality, and suddenly camp nursing dawned on me.
Working as a nurse at Kennebec fostered my professional growth in innumerable ways. I noticed my quick, critical thinking and nursing judgment skills sharpened; you face a lot of unique medical situations working at a camp for kids and teens with special needs. I learned a lot about multi-tasking dispensing medication in a noisy, bustling dining room while campers were trying to hug me and tell me about their day. Camp nursing isn’t easy, but the support I received from the camp senior staff, co-nurses and counsellors was tremendous. No weight was too heavy to bear.
I quickly became close friends with many camp staff. Kennebec seems to attract special kinds of people – energetic people who have embraced fun, excitement, and goofiness; kind people who want to make camp a memorable, special, magical place for campers to thrive; and supportive people who will have your back through thick and thin. I’m so thankful to have been exposed to all these amazing personalities, and I think they’ve all helped me grow as a person. What I thought would only be a temporary career stepping stone became so much more to me though, and it changed my life in ways I couldn’t have fathomed. I gained lifelong memories and fun experiences I will cherish forever, a newfound confidence, co-workers who became friends who then became my second family, and a home away from home.
Despite my full-time work, I still find a way to come back every year (cause obviously I don’t want to miss out on the summer and March Break fun!). And I plan on continuing to come back year after year, because camp has just become so embedded into who I am. For anyone who wants to have fun, grow, learn, make memories and lifelong connections, and truly experience what outstanding teamwork looks like – I wholeheartedly recommend Camp Kennebec.
Terian E. RN, CAMH – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
As a teacher of special needs adolescents for 38 years and presently a teacher of severely intellectually challenged adults, and most importantly a proud Kennebec alumnus (from the very first year) there is no doubt that Kennebec is far more than just a camp;it is the truest educational atmosphere in every sense. At Kennebec, fun is the ultimate vehicle of learning and boy do the kids learn! They learn the most important lessons in life, self-confidence and esteem, the building blocks of educational and personal success. Teaching happens through osmosis as education sneaks in under the radar of having a great time. The Kennebec secret. Maybe more schools should try it!
Danny Olivenstein, Educator
I have referred families to Camp Kennebec for years, and those families that look into Camp Kennebec have wonderful experiences. As campers begin to outgrow their stay at our inclusive day camp, I am always looking for camp programs that they can grow into. Camp Kennebec is among the top camps that I recommend for our campers and families when a child who requires more support and/or modifications than a traditional overnight camp can offer. The feedback that I receive from our families and campers, who take advantage of all Camp Kennebec has to offer, is extremely positive.
Sari Grossinger, BSc. OT Reg. (Ont.)
Director/Owner – Camp Robin Hood & Robin Hood Sports Academy, Co-Owner – Camp Robin Hood
Camp Kennebec allows children with ADHD and other special needs to become confident and independent. Novel activities and social situations allow children and teens to conquer fears, develop friendships, learn how to communicate, resolve disagreements. The overall message a summer at Camp offers is that campers can be successful and autonomous individuals no matter what they encounter throughout their lives.
(Appeared in Today’s Kids) Michael Bucovetsky, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist
I’ve worked as a therapist, educator and in the school systems for more than thirty years. In my practice, I regularly tell parents to send their kids to camp, because I think it’s the perfect way to learn independence, gain new skills and courage by trying new activities, develop social skills, and increase self-confidence. The best part about camp is that it is so much fun, that children and adolescents don’t even realize how much they’ve achieved and grown over the summer. While I believe that camp benefits everyone who attends, it’s the kids with special needs that often see the biggest benefit, especially if the camp program and philosophy are attuned to their needs – like Kennebec’s program is.
Elayne Aber, MSW, Therapist
As a social worker who worked in the private school system for 22 years, my role was to formulate and implement intervention plans for children and adolescents with both developmental delays and special needs. Summer camp is often recommended as an effective way to improve self-confidence, social and cognitive skills as well as build autonomy. When appropriate, I often refer parents to Camp Kennebec in Arden, Ontario. I have a longstanding relationship with the camp directors who have adapted a stimulating child centered and well balanced camp program, complete with a wide variety of entertaining activities, relevant programs and special events, all tailored to the needs of the campers. The outcome is happy campers and long-lasting often permanent gains, in addition to great memories of their summer!
Jackie Clamen, BSW, T.S.
My favorite part of September is hearing all the great and amazing things that my clients have done at camp that they never dreamt possible. The twinkle in their eyes when they talk about camp is priceless.
Dina Kalales, OT Reg. (Ont)
From a teacher’s perspective, Camp Kennebec does so many things right. I spent several summers there, and know first-hand that everyone is important and campers really connect with the Kennebec staff. The consistent routines, friendly supervision, new and fun people, and a different setting for doing schoolwork are like opening a lock with a new key for special needs students.
(Also, the sunsets over Bull Lake are beautiful!)
Mike Gauley, Teacher, B.A. B.Ed. OCT
Camp Kennebec Testimonial 2020