The tripping program involves out-of-camp excursions for campers equipped with the necessary swimming, paddling, and camping skills. At Camp Oconto, we try to foster and develop a camper’s curiosity about and respect for nature by offering girls the opportunity to explore outside of the daily camp schedule with a small group of her peers and a team of our qualified staff.
The length and nature of the excursion will depend on the camper’s age. The younger campers (7-9 years of age) do not go on an overnight canoe trip. Instead, they can go on a cookout to an island, returning after dinner. For campers 10 and 11-years old, a one-night excursion takes you to one of Oconto’s beautiful islands. Typically campers of 11-12 years of age will go on a three-day canoe trip, while older campers (13-15 years of age) will go on a 4-5 day canoe trip. As a Senior camper (14-15 years of age) you can choose to go on a 5-day canoe trip to Algonquin Park. We encourage all campers to participate in our tripping program – sleeping in a tent under the stars and travelling by canoe is such a uniquely Canadian experience that strengthens our campers’ relationship with nature and one another.
The adventure and thrill of sailing is a part of Oconto. With its sheltered surroundings, Eagle Lake is a perfect spot to learn the basics. Each camper has the opportunity to participate in the sailing program as long as they pass the Oconto swim test (see swimming lessons). If they haven’t sailed before, they will soon learn! With Oconto’s large fleet of boats, camp is a great opportunity to learn and to enjoy everything that our sailing program has to offer. Oconto teaches skills based on C.Y.A. levels. All boating activities require life jackets.
After it’s installation in Summer 2013, the climbing wall became Oconto’s newest and most popular activity! Campers of all ages are able to try climbing up the wall under the supervision of certified staff members that make safety their top priority. Safety helmets and harnesses are provided and must be used by all campers and staff that choose to climb the wall. This activity provides a great opportunity for campers to conquer their fears, set goals, and problem solve as they climb their way to the top!
Dance and Cardio
A great combination of the athletics and arts, dance at Oconto is a very popular activity. Aerobics and modern dance combine exercise and enjoyment. From beginners to the more experienced performers, Oconto is the perfect place to learn and practice your steps. Campers also have the opportunity to showcase their dances at our weekly Sunday Evening Concerts.
Campers love the opportunity to paddle their kayaks around Turtle Bay. With the help of qualified instructors, they learn how to safely get in and out of a kayak, how to steer, and, eventually, how to roll a kayak. We cover all skills required to work through the eight levels. For our older campers, we also offer a white-water trip where they can practice their skills in moving water.
Archery develops hand-eye coordination and concentration. The activity requires a keen eye and a steely grasp, both of which campers develop under the guidance of qualified instructors. There are 5 levels in total at Oconto. And if a camper gets a bulls-eye, it’s announced at a meal in front of the whole camp!
English Riding is available to campers of all ages. Campers will receive approximately 40 minutes of instruction five times in a two-week session (weather and schedule permitting – we’ll do our best, but if the camper goes on a trip for five days we won’t be able to make up all of the classes). Riders also receive instruction in stable management, grooming and feeding of the horses. Campers who wish to ride must bring their own A.S.T.M. approved riding helmet. In addition, long pants and shoes or boots with a heel are also needed. Riding fees will be added to your camper’s account at the end of the summer (see invoicing).
Diving is an incredibly popular activity as every camper loves the opportunity to jump off the “high-tower.” Under the guidance of qualified instructors, campers learn everything from basic dives to more challenging ones. At the end of the month, there is also a diving show where campers have the opportunity to show off their acquired acrobatics!
All campers are required to participate in swimming lessons 6 days a week. We use the Life Saving Society programs; more information on the curriculum can be downloaded at the link below. Trained lifeguards are always on duty, and Oconto has excellent instructors and facilities for all levels of swimmers. Beginning swimmers practice their strokes in the shallow beach water while the more experienced swimmers learn in one of four deep-water areas. All swim areas are enclosed by a combination of docks and buoy lines to ensure campers’ safety. On the first day of camp, all campers, regardless of their level of swimming ability, must take the Oconto Standard swim test (based on the Swim to Survive program). Campers are required to pass this test in order to participate in sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking. Counsellors will work with campers individually to support them in passing the test if necessary.
Click here to download a copy of the LifeSaving Society Swimmer Curriculum and to compare with Red Cross levels.
Canoeing is an integral part of the Oconto experience. Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA) levels are taught by qualified staff. Campers will learn all there is to know about canoeing from dumping their boat to soloing in one. In order to be accepted into the first year of our CIT program (called QCs), campers must have their Basic 3 level, and the second year of the CIT program requires that they have their Basic 4 level. Campers are encouraged to begin their canoeing levels as early as possible to ensure that they have plenty of time to meet these requirements.
Arts & Crafts
At Arts and Crafts, campers have the chance to try their hands at beadwork, macramé, silk-screening, jewellery-making, tie-dyeing, and t-shirt painting. Campers always return home with fabulous creative works of art!
Art & Crafts
Pottery is a great way for campers to put their creative minds to work! Campers can choose to work on a new project each day or continue a previous one. We have two pottery wheels where campers can also take turns making bowls and vases. Upon drying, the pieces can be painted and later heated in the kiln to give them a glazed finish.
Windsurfing is a challenge enjoyed by many campers with appropriate swimming qualifications (Swimmer 4 swim level or higher is needed to participate in this activity). Trained instructors and a large selection of board sizes and sails enable campers to enjoy the adventure of windsurfing on Eagle Lake. At Oconto, we offer five challenging levels- starting with the basics.
Offered to children of all ages who have passed the Oconto Swim/Sail Test, this is an opportunity for girls to learn the basics of synchro, or to sharpen their existing skills. There are 6 levels to pass, and campers can work on a routine to later perform at the Synchro Show on the last day of the month.
Low Ropes Course
Eagle, Intermediate and Senior campers can do the Low Ropes Course. The Camp Oconto version of tight-rope-walking, the Low Ropes Course has campers working to cross rope bridges low enough not to require harnesses but challenging enough to require peer and counsellor support. Groups of girls cooperate together working their way through the 13 different elements. The Low Ropes Course is a great way to discover new insights into teamwork, group dynamics, cooperation and the contribution of an individual’s particular strengths.
Low Ropes Course
Wonderful musical productions are staged at the end of each session with campers creating the props, costumes and sets. The campers audition for parts, and there is both a “two-weeker play” and a “monther play”. Musicals are selected based on how large the cast is – the more in the cast, the better! Camp Oconto has presented a variety of plays and musicals including Annie, Beauty and the Beast, Grease, The Lorax and Shrek, to name a few!
The tennis program provides an opportunity for campers to gain new skills in classes and tournaments. Enthusiastic players can learn and practice daily.
Each month the Quarter Counsellors (QCs) spend time planning a program for the entire camp. This is a traditional event and helps to teach the QCs (first year CITs) about planning, programming and co-operation. For the camp, it is a fun day when everyone gets involved. Each month is a different theme and it’s always exciting to guess what the QCs will be!
Similar to the planning and decorating behind QC All-Camp, Banquet is a themed dinner event organized by the Semis and occurs at the end of each month. The Semis (second year CITs) dress up and decorate the entire Dining Hall according to their theme. Campers and other staff always look forward to discovering the theme as well as seeing the decor inside the Dining Hall and eating the specially selected dinner!
This is a special evening in early July. Everyone is split into teams; dresses to the theme, plays games, and cheers on their team. A few campers may also get the opportunity to pick the strawberries for the whole camp which later appear on the 6ft long cake!
Decathlon is another well-anticipated camp-wide event that occurs on the 2nd last day of each month. The campers divide into their two teams (Birch and Maple) and participate in a large relay race that includes long and short distance running, swimming, rigging sailboats, kayaking, canoeing, building a fire, a three-legged race, leapfrog, archery, and much more. Both participating in the race and cheering for one’s team is a great way to end the month!
Fairy Fest is a newer yet still highly anticipated event that really brings the campers together. During the last week of each month, the whole camp gathers to participate in activities, sing songs, and tell stories that help the campers learn more about and appreciate nature. The evening also includes traditional games played against other teams such as paddle bending. The two teams, Birch and Maple, are determined upon arrival at Oconto. The camper is part of that team for life. We strive to ensure that family members are on the same team as well. Through an election in the first days of camp, each camper section picks a team leader for each team. Team leaders are chosen on the basis of their leadership qualities. It is a great honour and a big responsibility!
Special Arts allows campers to focus on fine arts such as drawing and painting inspired by their natural surroundings. The projects at this activity tend to be more long term and can be as detailed as campers wish to make them. Campers are led by qualified staff and encouraged to explore their own creativity as they work through each new project.
At Nature, campers learn many things such as how to identify the different types of leaves or find out how to build a proper and safe campfire. The activities at Nature are about understanding and respecting the environment and learning about the surrounding landscape. A “tripping badge” is earned through this activity as campers learn how to pitch a tent, stow food, and be safe around a campfire or cooking stove – this badge is a must for any camper wanting to go on a trip.
Typical games that are played include; baseball, volleyball, basketball and dodgeball. However, everyday is different at varsity sports and creativity is never at a shortage! Varsity Sports is a great way to run around and have fun.
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