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Bring on the Colour!!

What does your child love to do in the summer?  (or anytime really!)
What draws them in?  What makes them excited to get started on something?  

Do they love to colour? paint? take pictures? make videos?
Do they like to be in videos? act? play sports?
Whatever it is...tap into it!

Summer is a great time to tap into these creative or active parts of your child in a free and unstructured way that allows them to express themselves.  

Through the activities they love, your child can tap into their talents, abilities and strengths!

Watch how they respond to fun summer activities, and be as much a part of them as you can.
You might notice things like:
They can focus on the activity for hours...
They are able to recall details that normally they are unable to...
They seem to complete the activity effortlessly whereas others are lagging behind...

Whatever details you observe...let them know!

Tell them:
You focus on every detail that I don’t even see!
You can select the best colours to put together.
Your images are colourful and fun -- they draw me in and make me think about summer!
You are so fast and graceful when you are swimming.
You just seem to know how to put things together.
You create such funny stories when you put together your plays!
You really know how to comfort your friend when they are hurt.

This isn’t  just telling your child “sweet encouraging words”-- because honestly, they know when you are “just being nice” to them!  

This is you telling them what you see that comes ‘naturally’ to them -- WHAT they are really good at -- and WHY they are really good at it.  

You are helping them learn their strengths!  You are highlighting what makes them UNIQUE.  What makes them….THEM.

And when they know what they are good at,  then they can accept what they are not good at.  

This knowledge of strengths is so important.  WE, as parents, have the ability to offer insight into this, so our children can start to tap into these strengths NOW.  Your child can only do this when they REALLY realize what their strengths are ...and that these strengths can sometimes go unnoticed because they come easily to them.   But with your eyes, you can help them see their abilities.  

And doesn’t every child (and person!) need to know what they are really good at?!

Susan A Schenk

Susan Schenk's company "Technology & Tools for kids" offers resources and support for parents and professionals -- so they can help kids gain skills at home and school in a step-by-step approach. Visit her at

You can also find her on: 

Girls, Leadership and Summer Camp

As I sit writing this blog entry, I am reflecting on where the last 10 years have just gone for my eldest daughter, Eirinn.  She has just begun her last year as a camper at Glen Bernard Camp.  But this year is different.  This year she is enrolled in the Pacer Program at GBC where they follow the Ontario Curriculum and earn a high school credit in Leadership and Peer Support.   Not only will she come away from her time at camp with a Grade 11 credit, she will leave camp with skills that will carry her well into the future.  The mentorship to which she is being exposed will allow her to be a next generation staff person at GBC.  Eventually, it will be her turn to mentor a younger Pacer and give back to another girl. 

What does leadership look like at camp?  

It can be loud, wild and usually disguised in a crazy costume.  It can be found through encouragement of another camper.  It can be quiet too.  Gentle leadership might be seen in a counsellor helping a camper to work through missing home at night by sitting on her bed and reading to her.  Leadership, in all its forms, is celebrated in a camp community.  Have you seen that great TED talk in which Derek Sivers highlighted his case that a leader isn't always the first person to do something?  Often it is the first person to follow because in many instances, the first person to follow starts the movement.  I love that because my type of leadership comes in the background, not the foreground.  In my years as a GBC camper and staff member, I was a more subdued leader.  I did not seek out the spotlight.  I was happy to be the first follower.   I can't begin to describe the feeling of watching my daughter begin to embark on her time as a staff member.  As mothers, we question ourselves daily about decisions we make for our children.  Camp is one decision I have never questioned.   Sending your daughter away to camp can be one of the hardest things we do.  Why?  Because we have to relegate control of our children to others. In my case, I must admit, the GBC staff over the years have had an enormous influence on my daughter, all for the better.  I'm sure in some instances her counsellor was a better mother than I could have been.  Leadership is about team work.  A camp community is the best example of team work  ever seen. 

After all the recent media coverage about Peter McKay's comments concerning mother's roles,  I thought perhaps we should invite him to see how young women campers and staff help shape and mould the next generation of leaders without male influence.  The GBC staff are well positioned to be Canada's next leaders in fields such as Engineering, Psychiatry, Education and Business to name a few.  The campers they are shaping are well positioned to follow in their footsteps. 

I would be remised to tell you about Glen Bernard and not invite you to see it for yourself.  On July 5th, 2014, GBC is pleased to offer a one day introduction to camp.  You can hop on the GBC Express in Toronto, spend the day with your future leader taking part in camp activities and after a delicious camp dinner, hop on the bus and head home. I'd love to show you our GBC girls in action, doing what they do best.  Being themselves.   Contact me at kim@gbcamp.com if you would like a seat on the GBC Express.  Cheers! 

Visit Glen Bernard Camp Here 

5 reasons why the online game Minecraft is educational from a child's perspective

Hey parents here are 5 reasons why you should let your kids play Minecraft.

  1. My first reason is Minecraft helps your kids become architects because Minecraft is a building tool which  helps your kids with design and creativity.
  2. It helps with imagination and creativity. The sky is the limit... Build a skyscraper or castle just to name a few.
  3. Minecraft has a safety policy which helps your kids stay safe. On not only Minecraft, but also other websites there is their safety policy to remind you to never to give out your real name or use it as your username. Also never give out personal details like what school you go to or how old you are. Lastly, never tell anybody your password except for a parent or guardian.
  4. It teaches kids random facts. I learned that paper can be made from sugarcane. It taught me also that not everything comes from a store, many things can be grown in the wild.
  5. My fifth reason is your kids can invent a machine in Minecraft with something called redstone. It takes sometime to figure out but after a while your kids will be master it and then they can make a machine and feel accomplished.
There are 3 versions of minecraft xbox,computer and ipad. Let your child try it out!

3 Ways for Parents to Stop their Love-Hate Relationship with Technology and their Child.

How many times do you find yourself telling your child, “Get off that game and get outside!" BUT you pull out your iPhone whenever you find yourself with a few minutes to spare--like when you and your child are waiting for an appointment--and you wouldn’t replace those apps for anything!   This is a prime example of the love-hate relationship we seem to have with technology when it comes to our children.

So how can we stop this "battle" that seems to be happening when it comes to using technology in our child’s lives?  

1. Well, first of all, ask yourself what your child is gaining by using the app or software.
By “gaining”, I mean you are aware your child is getting something positive from working with technology, such as the ability to connect with people they love through a different platform. Or maybe developing a new interest in something they would normally avoid, such as writing. Even playing a game on a device can be positive if you are there with them -- to talk to them about what they are doing, or what they are creating or trying to accomplish in the game.  Why not try playing the game with your child, so you can have fun with them (and so they can see how bad you are at it--it’s okay, they won’t mind that you can’t do something well for a change!).

It’s all in ‘how’ it’s being used and the focus that is being placed on the positive outcome of it.  

2. Next, consider how you can set up your iPad or laptop so it can take on a more ‘purposeful’ role in your child’s life.  By purposeful role I mean helping them to complete tasks they need to do in school or life, such as increasing their interest in writing for the first time so they can communicate with their dad by texting.  Or using an app to help them review a subject they are learning in class right now. Or using texting or other platforms to learn where the letters are on the keyboard so they can spell their name or write a sentence to someone.  Or allowing them to create using video or picture software or apps.  

I could go on!  All of these purposeful activities allow your child to gain skills they need now and in the future.  And when you set up your iPad or laptop as a "working" or "purposeful" tool, you will be amazed at how your child will start to view it as that--and it will be used for great activities that will make a big difference in their lives (I have no doubt about that).

3. Finally, model the changes you want to see in your children by looking at how you use technology and how often you get outside or get active.  If you only use technology to play games and watch videos, guess what? That’s how it will be used by your child.  Technology is such a powerful tool for the future of our kids. We must model balance as much as we can -- it’s hard sometimes but not impossible.  Focus on what technology can offer.  Set it up to focus on purposeful activities. And then show kids how to enjoy life without it, too--by reconnecting to the outdoors and the people around them.  

Susan Schenk's company "Technology & Tools for kids" offers resources and support for parents and professionals -- so they can help kids gain skills at home and school in a step-by-step approach.  She uses technology and others tools to help kids learn and show others what they know.  These strategies allow kids to learn in a successful and independent way -- and who doesn’t want to learn that way!! Visit her at www.technologyandtoolsforkids.com  

You can also find her on: 

When Healthy Food Turns Unhealthy

By Deb Lowther

Muffin lovers beware, that whole grain fruit/vegetable bran muffin you are about to eat actually has more fat, more calories and more sugar than an apple fritter donut!

That is just one of the surprising facts I noticed when I went looking for healthy foods at fast food and snack counters. We are all trying to make healthy choices but sometimes the muffin, granola bar and popcorn we choose is a healthy food that has silently become unhealthy!

Be a label reader and be aware that just because it is a salad or a muffin, does not make it healthier than a burger or a donut! Here is how to spot some of the impostors:

Unhealthy Healthy Food 

The dressing. Be a label reader and at restaurants always check the nutrient guide for the salad dressings offered for your favorite fast food salad.  Go for vinegar or yogurt based dressings with only 1gr fat per tbsp.

Look what I found:
Chicken Ranch Salad at Drive thru – 31gr FAT, 590 Calories, 25gr Sugar, 1480gr Sodium
Compared to:
1/4lb burger at same Drive thru – 33gr FAT, 590 Calories, 10gr Sugar, 1240gr Sodium

Peanut Butter
Peanut butter made with JUST peanuts is an excellent health food loaded with protein, but look what is in most peanut butter. Sweeten a natural peanut butter sandwich with apple slices or bananas.

Look what I found:
Creamy Peanut butter – peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt, fancy molasses, maltodextrin, icing sugar.        2tbsp  = 16gr FAT, 3gr Sugar, 8gr Protein
Compared to:
Natural Peanut Butter – peanuts.   2tbsp - 16gr FAT, 2gr Sugar, 10gr Protein

All healthy right? Definitely a better choice than the donut you secretly really want to order.  The next time you go for the Blueberry bran, have a look at the chain’s nutritional breakdown.  You might be surprised what you find.

Look what I found:
Blueberry Bran muffin – 13gr FAT, 280 Calories, Fibre 4gr, Sugar 24gr
Whole Grain Carrot muffin – 13gr FAT, 360 Calories, Fibre 4gr, Sugar 29gr
Compared to:
Apple Fritter donut – 8gr FAT, 290 Calories, Fibre 2gr, Sugar 15gr
Chocolate Dip donut -  14gr FAT, 270 Calories, Fibre 1gr, Sugar 16gr

Homemade Oatmeal Applesauce Muffin – 3.7gr FAT, 177 Calories, Fibre 4 gr, Sugar 15gr

Granola Bars
Many granola and energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup and contain as much fat and sugar as a candy bar.  For a quick snack with protein and fiber reach for a pear, cheese or your own mixture of almonds and dried apricots.

Look what I found:
28gr Chewy chocolate chip granola bar – 4gr FAT, 1gr Fibre, 9gr Sugar, 1gr Protein
28 gr Sweet & salty granola bar  – 9gr FAT, 11gr Sugar, 4gr Protein
Compared to:
28 gr  Snickers bar – 6gr FAT, .5gr Fibre, 13gr Sugar, 2gr Protein

Popcorn has received a lot of positive attention for being a low calorie, good fibre snack food but beware of the unhealthy popcorns out there!

Look what I found (16 cups)
Large movie popcorn – 57gr FAT, 1030 Calories, 630mg Sodium, 16gr Fibre
Purchased bag popcorn – 90gr FAT, 1440 Calories, 1900mg Sodium, 19gr Fibre
Microwave popcorn – 24gr FAT, 680 Calories, 1500mg Sodium, 12gr Fibre

Compared to:
Air popped Popcorn at home – 5gr FAT, 500 Calories, 10gr Sodium, 17gr Fibre
(if you add 1/2 tsp salt is 1000mg of sodium, 12gr FAT in 1 tbsp butter)

So check those labels and ask at restaurants to find the healthy food offered on their menu's.  Most times it is there, but maybe not exactly where you thought!