At Camp Big Canoe we believe our staff is our greatest asset. Whether they have come up through ranks of Big Canoe as campers or have spent summers elsewhere but are eager to share their talents to enrich the Spirit of Big Canoe, our staff is a diverse, gifted group of people dedicated to making this summer the best ever.
To ensure this happens year in and year out, we are led by a team of three, our Camp Director and two Assistant Directors. The esteemed Bill Stevens leads as our Camp Director for the 17th straight summer, and this year is joined by Assistant Directors, Jess Taylor and Thomas Berton. All three bring a wealth of experience and a compassionate enthusiasm that is infectious. We are thrilled to introduce you to our Assistant Directors for the summer of 2014 as they share their stories and cannot wait for the summer to begin.
And if one of their stories hits home for you or inspires you to share, please do. You can reach us here or at www.facebook.com/campbigcanoe.ca #whatsyourstory #KeepingTheSpiritAlive #campbigcanoe
It was a beautiful June day in 2011 when Jess first laid eyes on Camp Big Canoe, a magical place of which she had only heard stories and seen pictures. She arrived with her duffle bag in tow, excited to fulfill her destiny as a polar bear dipping, flash mob dancing, costume wearing, tripper. After that fateful summer, Jess knew that she could not spend just one summer working at Big Canoe, and was fortunate enough to come back the next year. Even when she wasn’t working there the summer of 2013, she made every excuse to come and visit the wonderful people that make Big Canoe what it is.
Jess has spent the past year and half studying Experiential Education at Minnesota State University. As graduation approaches and final deadlines are met, she can be found daydreaming about returning to camp for another amazing summer.
Jess’ favorite food is broccoli. She loves it any way it comes: raw, baked, boiled, tempura-ed, you name it. She enjoys sporadic dance parties, and speaking in terrible (impeccable in her mind) accents.
Thomas was 13 when he left for overnight camp for the first time, in August 2002. He was a pretty shy kid, so heading off for Camp Big Canoe was a pretty frightening proposition, even though his younger brother and older cousin would be there. To this day, he and his dad argue about who was shaking more when they hugged goodbye before his mom started the car to drive the two boys to Fraserburg Road.
Luckily, all that anxiety was misplaced. Thomas immediately fell in love with Hart Lake, platform tents, Music and Drama rotations and the incredible atmosphere of creativity and love that permeated every inch and interaction at Big Canoe. Family became the word he most associated with camp: both the family that he brought from home, and the family he made there, especially once he started working as a counsellor in the summer of 2006. From then until 2010, Thomas’ summers were full of hilarious memories of scabbed knees, stuffed armadillos and never-ending water fights.
Now, after a hiatus spent studying Canada at York University, teaching board games at Snakes and Lattes and living the young urban life in downtown Toronto, Thomas is ready to return to make 2014 his most memorable summer yet. As Head Counsellor, he’s excited to help the rest of our staff members create the same loving, creative, fun environment that eased that young boy’s anxieties so many years ago.