StepStones for Youth
StepStones for Youth operate a Summer Camp focused on developing life skills for girls in need. The Summer Camp offers girls aged 6-14 an overnight camping experience in Northern Ontario. Through therapeutic recreational activities and games, as well as life skill lessons, literacy programming, and swimming lessons, campers are given the opportunity to improve their self-esteem, conflict resolution skills, peer interactions, and learn about ways to make safe, positive choices.
Heather O'Keefe, Executive Director at StepStones for Youth, described the Summer Camp program as follows:
StepStones for Youth is a registered charity that offers a skill development camp for girls intended to help develop personal and social growth as well as leadership skills. Our camp, which has been operating for seven years, provides youth with a nine-day camping experience on the shores of Georgian Bay. Every year we service over 100 children and youth from areas in Toronto most in need. Our camp is unique in its design; we register small groups of campers and focus specifically on skill development within a fun and engaging environment. The benefits of our small-group programming is that the girls who attend our camp are welcomed into a close knit and supportive atmosphere where our team works diligently to boost self-confidence, self-awareness and self-efficacy through a range of activities and experiences.
This year's camp was highly successful and thoroughly enjoyable experience for the girls, thanks in large part to the help of the Toronto chapter of SIM. With Toronto SIM’s financial contribution, 3 more girls were afforded the opportunity to attend the Summer Camp. The majority of our summer camp participants face significant challenges in their lives – socially, emotionally and economically – and we rely on the generous support of donors like SIM to ensure that we can offer our programming to those who need it most.
Thanks to the generous support of SIM, over the course of the summer, more young girls learned how to swim and canoe; they attended workshops about leadership, environmentalism, equity and social justice. They participated in a literacy program and learned computer and technology skills by creating a photography project. They sang songs by the campfire and built new friendships. Thanks to SIM, the life lessons learned and memories made at camp will last a lifetime!
StepStones provides great care and attention to their campers, retaining a professional teaching staff with special education training, as well as social work experts on site. The Summer Camp program ensures a minimum 3:1 camper to staff ratio. Approximately 70% of the youth who attend the camp program have direct involvement with various Children’s Aid Societies in the province of Ontario.
Cybercamp Robotics Academy
The Toronto SIM Chapter is pleased to have sponsored it's second Robotics camp with Cybercamp Robotics Academy. In all, 22 children were given an opportunity they may otherwise not have had. Dave Ellis, the camp's Director, had the following to say:
It's April, the weather is warming up and summer is approaching fast. For many children, there is an excitement and anticipation about the incredible summer plans - going to Disney, camping in Algonquin, going to the cottage, and attending a neat summer camp. Unfortunately for some children, all the summer means is spending time in an apartment building or finding shade underneath a tree and watching the grass grow. For some children in lower socioeconomic areas, parents are unable to provide the extra experiences that many of us take for granted. Enter SIM, Toronto Chapter! With the financial help from this non-profit organization of technology specialists 22 children were able to attend a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-related camp this July called Cybercamp Robotics Academy!
At this week-long day camp which ran from 8:45-3:45, both boys and girls had the opportunity to work on designing, building, and programming autonomous LEGO robots using the NXT Mindstorms LEGO robotics platform. On the first day of camp, the children learned about what makes a structure strong and how to do some basic programming using a graphical interface called NXT-G. As the week progressed, their technical knowledge included learning about weight distribution and balancing, gear ratios, and more advanced programming including programming the robot to use sensors, loops, and switches.
In addition to the technical skills learned throughout the week, the children also participated in many fun games aimed at developing their cooperation and teamwork skills. The Cybercamp program encourages problem-solving skills and creativity by exposing the children to challenges which require them to think "outside the box" and come to consensus as a group on how best to solve the problem.
Finally, as this was the Second Annual SIM-sponsored Cybercamp week, we were fortunate to have campers from 2011 who returned as staff this year, providing an opportunity for leadership development for those children as well. Thanks to the SIM grant, Cybercamp was able to provide a free camp experience to 22 children who would otherwise not have been able to attend. The children, learned, played, had a pizza party and freezies, and made memories that will last a lifetime!
You will likely never know the full extent of the impact you have had on these children, but know that it was fantastic! Thank you SIM!