Sharing, caring and camp

York Youth Connection (YYC) campers Jamal and Marsha have vivid memories of their camp experience last summer.

“I love YYC summer camp,” said nine-year-old Jamal.  “I got to see lots of stuff including some neat places. Last year, we played lots of games and I learned how to work in groups. Some of the best things were the science stuff I saw and it was so cool! I am so glad that I get to come back again this year. Camp rocks!”

Marsha has similar memories. “I liked all the new things I got to try last year. I made lots of new friends and I really liked the drama and crafts. This year is even better because my sister is with me,” said 10-year-old Marsha. “I know that she will really like the camp especially because of the pizza! 

Left and below: Images from camp

“Last year we had movie days and pizza. We also did a showcase where we showed other camp people what we did in our group. It was fun to share and it was kind of like doing a play. Lots of people laughed and cheered when we did our showcase,” she said.

The YYC summer day camp has served York University and its surrounding community for more than 28 years. Located on the Keele campus, the camp offers fun, safe experiences and activities that promote the confidence and creativity of campers. Children of faculty, staff, students and local residents can attend. Each July and August, 320 young people from low-income families come to the University to engage in athletics, the arts, and science education. For campers, the experience is memorable and can often be life changing. Some former campers are now York University students and camp leaders.

Supervised by fully qualified staff, campers learn about the University and can take full advantage of York’s facilities and expertise in visual arts, music, theatre, science, leadership and sports. The camp is very affordable with its low sessional fee of just $210 for each two-week session, and subsidies are available.

“This summer camp is a positive outlet for the youth of the community. It provides endless opportunities for growth and development, encouraging youth to participate in the arts, stay active in sport and establish long-standing friendships,” said Danielle Chateau, community relations officer and the camp manager. “Campers are thrilled to come back year after year. The staff are exceptional and serve as positive role models for the campers.”

This year, Chateau is working to expand the camp experience to more children who would not normally be able to afford to attend the day camp. In the past, donors have sent a number of children from the surrounding community to the camp. Chateau is hoping to raise $10,000 in donations from corporations and private donors to enable more kids to enjoy the experience.

“The need has never been greater,” said Chateau. “As a not-for-profit initiative, YYC is seeking additional financial support, which will enable the University to continue to provide a quality program for youth of the community. With support, these youth who otherwise would not have an opportunity to attend camp, can have fun, create lasting memories and experience life at York.

“York is located in the Jane and Finch area, a community with a large number of underprivileged children and single parent families. There are a lot of York students with children who have expressed an interest in the camp and would like to bring their children to the camp but can’t for financial reasons,” said Chateau.

She is also seeking donations to help cover the cost of supplies, transportation to events and many other activities. Chateau is working with a number of community organizations, including the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund and Tennis Canada. In previous years, a number of faculty and staff have sponsored campers through private donations. York’s unions and student organizations have also made donations to the camp. “The donors take a real interest in the kids they help,” she said.

This year, Tennis Canada has partnered with a number of Toronto day camps, including the YYC, to create a kids camp day at the Tennis Masters Canada 2004 tournament. The tournament, which runs July 24 to August 1 will be held for the first time at the new Rexall Centre at York’s Keele campus. The official entry list for this year’s tournament features some of the top men’s tennis players in the world including Andy Roddick, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi. On July 26, campers from across the Toronto area will tour the new Rexall Centre, take in a game and meet some of the players coming to the event.

“This is a first for the York Youth Connection camp,” said Chateau. “The campers are already excited about going to the new Rexall Centre and Tennis Canada has been terrific to the kids.”

If you are interested in sponsoring a camper for a two-week session, contact the York University Foundation, 280 York Lanes, cheques should be made out to the York University Foundation and tax receipts will be issued. For more information, contact Danielle Chateau at ext. 55597 or by e-mail to

For registration information and to learn more about the camp, visit the York Youth Connection Web site or contact the camp office at ext. 55669 or by e-mail to