Campers strut their stuff as first session of YYC wraps up

The first session of York Youth Connection (YYC) campers showcased their stuff last Friday for parents, staff and even the Master of Vanier College Stanley Tweyman, who welcomed them as future York students.

The campers, ranging in age from eight to 14, displayed their sports prowess, their artwork, their science experiments and sang songs for their audience. They also performed several skits highlighting the how people from all different cultures should work together and get along along with the results of doing so. The skits fit with the theme of the first two-week session of YYC, which was rediscovering Canada and that’s just what these youth did through visual art, theatre, science and sports.

Right: YYC camp award winners Nick Maccani (left), Justin Singh and Raheem Clarke-Lewis

"The camp’s philosophy has always been to encourage equality among the campers while providing a safe and fun environment, where interacting with one another will remove any social boundaries," said his year’s YYC administrative coordinator Wilson Vuong. "So I definitely expect all our campers will be able to make some everlasting friendships."

The campers who are 13 and 14 years old are part of the leadership program and Vuong says he hopes "they come out with the tools and an idea of what it takes to be a leader in their community".

Left: The totem pole created by YYC campers

Several awards were also handed out during the YYC showcase. Justin Singh and Nick Maccani won the Vandoo Citizenship Award given to campers for showing qualities of great citizenship, including helping others, sharing, creating group spirit and morale and working to create a positive environment at camp.

The YYC award of excellence went to Raheem Lewis-Clarke and Willy Agbalugo for representing excellence in relations with other campers, in the program areas of drama, art, science, sports or leadership.

During the camp session, they discovered Canada by playing trivia and jeopardy games using Canadian facts, creating a totem pole and taking a trip to the Kortright Centre where the younger campers met a bee keeper, tasted honey and learned all about bees, while the older campers learned how to grind corn and participated in a moccasin walk.

"There is nothing more rewarding then to see the enjoyment on our campers faces, whether it’s watching a live demonstration of bee-farming, and eating the freshly harvested honey, to cheering on their friends in the 5th edition of our YYC Olympics," said Vuong. "Ultimately, our goal is achieved when the session comes to an end and weeks/months/years past, they can stop and just reflect on how amazing their stay at YYC was."

The visual arts portion of YYC has the youth doing more than painting and drawing, they work with natural objects and materials crafting everything from masks and totem poles to weaving fabric, while in the theatre section campers develop their own skits, plays and shows incorporating mime, theatre games and improvisation. 

Left: Cameron Heald-Brown (left) and Darnell Richards show off their science project

Through science the kids investigate the natural laws that govern the universe through fun and experimentation, while in sports the campers develop cooperative skill, get plenty of physical activity and have the opportunity to play new games. Most of the sessions include a field trip to somewhere such as the Toronto Zoo or the Science Centre.

Vuong says the number of campers attending this year – there are four two-week long sessions – is up considerably from last year. There is even a waiting list for one of the sessions. This is the 33rd year YYC has offered camps for kids. Vuong, a second-year animation student in the joint Seneca and York program, is a former YYC volunteer and camp counsellor.

The showcase of talent ended with something every kid can definitely get into – a surprise ice cream buffet.

 For more information, visit the YYC Web site.