The aftermath of the negotiations in the education sector will be difficult for nature camps of Quebec. The majority of sixty camps with students remained deserted autumn fields. A dozen camps are now on life support, and managers of those that remain are jockeying to attract students from private schools.
This slump is directly related to work to rule decreed by the teaching unions because of the slow pace of negotiations with the government, says the Association des camps du Québec (ACQ). The teachers were limited to their tasks within their schedule. Result: sports outings, the fall festivals, concerts, classes and white green classes have since been canceled.
The weather is gray and in town at the base of outdoor Jumpstart, Wentworth-Nord, in the Laurentians. No snow, but a breathtaking landscape. Beautiful fog on the lake. Except there is not a single child and discover the joys of nature. The dormitories are empty, kitchens too.
To ensure the survival of his camp, the facility director, Benoit Lorrain says it has temporarily walk a good part of his team. It is about one hundred employees at the peak of the year, including animators students.
“We came close to disaster, says Lorrain. We lost $ 40,000 in income since September. And we received no deposit for white classes. We talk about $ 20,000 in arrears. This is serious, as I say, this is not the smudge. At $ 70 a night, we talk at least 500 young people who have been deprived of the camp, and that just with us since the early pressure tactics. ”
The basic outdoor Jumpstart is lucky because she has the right to a government grant through its mission to young people with disabilities, in addition to being sponsored by Canadian Tire giant. Still, she went up to offer stays 50% discount to the general public in November, to survive. The others try to attract private schools basin, but it is limited, he said.
At the Association des camps du Québec (ACQ), the general manager Eric Beauchemin does not hesitate to speak of a “cry of alarm”.
“Most of Nature camps with students are non-profit organizations,” he says. He added that the survival of summer camps, so dear to parents who often have to work during the summer, is closely linked to the activities of the autumn and winter in nature classes.
“It’s unfortunate, but we are the first affected by the negotiations, for the cancellation of extracurricular activities, says Mr Beauchemin. Our role is nevertheless essential to the awakening to nature and environmental protection. ”
Mr. Lorrain spreads the list of activities for young people. In summer, there’s swimming, canoeing, climbing, evenings beside the campfire. There sledding in winter, snowshoeing, mountains to explore, wilderness survival.
“It is not uncommon for us to accommodate students who have never set foot outside of Montreal or another city. For other children, the camp will be the memory of their first night outside the family nest. We have an important role in the education system. In my view, the cancellation of Nature camps as leverage is more serious consequences that the cancellation of the Halloween party in which the media have made much. ”
The benefits of a kind camp
A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, under the direction of Dr. Troy Glover, published the results of a pan-Canadian research showing the benefits of Nature camps in the evolution of an individual. Two of their findings.
Percentage of children experiencing a positive evolution of their ability to create new friendships, sometimes with people they consider different, and resolve conflicts that may arise. The camp is proving a safe environment fostering a strong sense of belonging.
Percentage of campers with a positive growth of emotional intelligence, the ability to recognize and to examine their emotions and those around them according to age.
In Quebec, the camps with students from public and private schools must comply with strict rules in order to get grants. It must be in particular non-profit organizations. The camps are obliged to regularly organize activities related to their mission. They must have, direct or manage a camp which hosts mainly young people, families and people with disabilities. There is an obligation to maintain an associative and democratic life, and hold a classification certificate. The Association des camps du Quebec (ACQ) is a non-profit organization representing Quebec organizations offering certified programs of summer camps, day camps, nature classes, camps and family groups welcome.