"Positive Girl Community" is not a mystical unicorn!
At Ouareau, our goal is to create a positive girl culture so that campers not only feel like they can be themselves, but also thrive as themselves. We help campers feel comfortable, make new friends, try new activities, and safely grow beyond their personal limits.
SOMETIMES FRIENDSHIP NEEDS A HELPING HAND
Returning campers come early
To create a welcoming environment, returning campers arrive 2 hours earlier than new campers, so that they have time to work with our staff on how to make new campers feel welcome. Many families have noticed the positive impact this small act has on the start of our camp sessions.
Creating shared experiences from the start
Laughing and having fun starts almost immediately at Camp Ouareau. We foster team building experiences from the get-go so that campers feel comfortable and so that friendships develop early on.
Speaking up doesn't have to be scary
Girls are often afraid to share their opinions. It is imperative to us that we support campers to speak their minds. We do this by setting up community agreements with the campers which allow them to learn simply communication techniques that help with self expression.
What our campers are saying...
"You don't have to be anything but yourself, no self-consciousness required!"
– Katie M, camper for 9 years
"The environment is set up really well, and I've never been afraid I wasn't good enough at Ouareau."
– Nadine S, camper for 2 years
The DARE program gives campers a navigational tool to guide their interactions with peers. With the help of their counsellors, campers learn to use the following four questions when making decisions:
- “Is this action accepting the DIVERSITY of others?”
- “Is this action conserving Ouareau’s environmental ATMOSPHERE?”
- “Does this action RESPECT the emotional and physical well-being of myself and others?”
- “Is this action promoting positive self-ESTEEM?”
These questions are more than words on a page. Since the implementation of the DARE program, we have found that campers contribute to creating a physically and emotionally safe camp environment, and learn to better trust their own judgement.
Disconnect to reconnect
Without their headphones, cell phones, and the Internet, campers develop a true sense of independence and form strong connections within the camp community. Ouareau’s rustic environment also allows campers to experience what nature has to offer. Though there may be an initial adjustment period, campers quickly discover the freedom of disconnecting!
We have staff photographers capturing camp memories all around camp, so girls are free to live in the moment. In the fall, Ouareau sends out hundreds of photos, the end-of-session slideshow, and a video of the drama production from each session at camp – either in the mail on a DVD or electronically for our International campers.
Would like to bring your own camera? Please make sure they're ones with replaceable batteries or the disposable type, as we do not have anywhere for cameras to be recharged.
TRAVELLING FROM AFAR
For travelling purposes, some campers may arrive at camp with electronics. These are kept safe in the camp office until their session is over.
COMMUNICATING WITH HOME
Campers have the opportunity to write handwritten letters home, and either send them by post or, once a week, have them scanned & emailed to their parents. Parents can send emails anytime they like through our online service*, which will be printed out once daily and given out to campers with the rest of their mail.
All first-time Ouareau families can expect a phone call after their camper has been at camp for three days. Your daughter's Unit Head or our Client Care Coordinator will update you on how she's settling in.
* online email service will be available at this link as of 24 hours prior to your daughter's session at camp.
OUR SECRET... GREAT STAFF!
We know we have the best staff... so how do we hire and keep such wonderful people? We select our candidates for their enthusiasm, leadership qualities, maturity, and commitment to the values of Camp Ouareau. All staff members are able to carry on a conversation in either French or English, but are also dedicated to improving their language skills at camp, just like our campers.
They are a mix of former campers who have gone through our two-month CIT (counsellor-in-training) program, and young women who have been brought in for activity expertise, fresh ideas, and experience. Every new staff member goes through a multi-stage interview process, and every returning staff member is re-interviewed each year.
Our director, Gabrielle, does leadership training year-round outside of Ouareau, and brings that passion and fresh ideas to our staff training program. All staff members go through an extensive training period at camp before we open for the season. They'll go over routines and procedures, learn about camper care, and prepare their activities and events for the summer.
The training period also gives our staff a chance to work together as a team before the campers arrive, so that they will be at their very best when taking care of your campers! We continue staff training throughout the summer, with workshops and skill refreshers on a weekly basis.
Coached in Communicating
In progressing from camper to CIT to staff member, we begin to hold our Ouareau girls to a higher standard of communication and problem-solving skills. To allow them to be able to coach their campers in using DARE and other communication tools, we coach our staff to become more aware of their feelings and needs and more comfortable communicating those to their peers and supervisors.
As well, our staff have a solid support system throughout the summer with frequent scheduled times where counsellors reflect on their campers' experience. This support system has aided them to not only do a wonderful job with their girls, but also to accomplish goals of their own.
Meet our directors
Jacqui & Gabrielle are both heavily involved in the international camping community and leadership development in & outside of that community. It has been their mission to provide a camp that best serves the emotional well-being of girls. Camp Ouareau has been family operated for nearly 15 years.
Jacqui began working at Ouareau in 1975, and has been the director of Camp Ouareau since 1994. Jacqui and her husband, Don, became the owners of Ouareau in 2002; they have worked diligently to develop programs and activities while maintaining Ouareau’s traditions. In 2009, the Quebec Camping Association awarded Jacqui the Honour Award, which recognizes her exceptional contribution to the camping community and her commitment to Camp Ouareau. Jacqui’s lifelong camping experience has enabled her to contribute to the international camping world; she has been on the boards of the Quebec Camping Association (ACQ), the Canadian Camping Association (CAA), and the International Camping Fellowship (ICF). Part of Jacqui’s camp philosophy is building a partnership between parents and camp so that every camper’s experience is positive and unique.
Gabrielle "Gabz" Raill
Gabz’ energetic personality keeps camp exciting, from creating new games to teaching a camper how to roll a kayak. Gabrielle Raill is now one of the directors of Camp Ouareau, and has been a staff member at Ouareau since 1996. In 2007, the Ontario Camping Association (OCA) honoured Gabz with the Ron & Mickey Johnstone Youth Leadership Award. Gabrielle has volunteered her time to work with the Quebec Camping Association (ACQ) and the International Camping Fellowship (ICF), and for World Camps’ Camp Sizanani in South Africa. She is currently the Canadian Ambassador Representative for the ICF. She collaborated with Dr. Raye Kass of Concordia University on a team-building program for NASA astronauts. Gabrielle holds a B.A. in Human Relations from Concordia University, and a certificate in Recreation from Humber College.