It wasn’t the typical scene one would expect when a camp bus arrives.
Canes, walkers, wheelchairs and caregivers were in abundance as members of the Baycrest Freeman Family Day Centre travelled to Bayview Glen Day Camp on Aug. 14 for an afternoon of summer camp.
The one similarity from generation to generation was the sunny smiles on the faces of all the seniors as they made their way into the camp.
“Camp is for everyone,” said Bayview Glen’s director, Dara Kahane. “Camp is not just for kids, and its benefits are not dependent on the age of the camper. Benefits include developing skills, engaging in arts and crafts, activities, and the opportunities for campers to explore and engage on many platforms.”
Some 20 seniors went on the fourth annual day trip, which is part of the camp’s staff-in-training leadership program.
Many of the seniors had attended camp in their youth, and they eagerly welcomed the opportunity to come back, if only for a day.
Their schedule was full, as cabins of campers of all ages entertained them with a variety of song-and-dance routines they had perfected over the summer, including an excerpt from the camp play, Mary Poppins.
The staff trainees also chatted with the seniors as they worked together on an arts and crafts activity making picture frames.
“The members were so excited to experience camp again. They couldn’t wait to intermingle with the children,” said Olive Walcott, a recreationist at Baycrest.
“My zaide has been asking ‘When can I go back to camp?’ He has been here in past outings over the years and has been anticipating this visit again. He wants to bring his arts and craft home for Bubbie,” said Bayview Glen staffer Naomi Max, granddaughter of visiting senior Ralph Shiff.
Shiff told The CJN that “60 or 70 years ago, I was a camper at Camp Naivelt. It was a Jewish camp, and that got me involved in Judaism. Today, I am enjoying being outside in the fresh air with the children.”
Visiting senior Bunny Pike also had a story to share.
“I was a camper all my life and a counsellor at Camp Kawagama. I was an archery instructor. I still remember… I put the target beside the owner’s cabin. I should have moved the target, as the first two arrows went into the front door of his cabin… it wasn’t a good idea. I like being back at camp. I like seeing the children.”
Samantha Warman, a staffer-in-training at Bayview Glen, said she enjoyed the afternoon with the guests. “We have been talking with the seniors and sharing stories. They are happy, and it feels good to help bring a smile.”