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 if you would like a seat on the GBC Express.  Cheers! 

Visit Glen Bernard Camp Here 



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