Summer is just around the corner and St. Margaret's is excited about its new and expanded summer camp offerings this year. There are now two age groupings, primary (completed kindergarten – grade 2) and intermediate (completed grades 3-7) and the camps run weekly from June 22 to August 21. Girls will discover new friends, interests and awesome locations around our beautiful city.
So inspite of the fact that they may learn a thing or two along the way, SMS summer camps are really about getting the most out of the summer season, getting outside, and enjoying our time away from school books. To understand just why SMS summer camps for girls are so much fun, I sat down with camp coordinator Jennifer Walton to get the scoop.
What are SMS summer camps all about?
SMS summer camps are more than a child care opportunity for families. Our camps are designed to encourage exploration, learning, creativity, imagination, play, and physical activity. Each weekly theme has been carefully thought through to appeal to a wide range of interests from science, athletics, local history, fine arts, to STEM. As we open our camps to the public, it's a great opportunity for our students to make new friends with similar interests.
What was the inspiration behind this year’s expanded offerings and age groups?
We wanted to group students of similar ages and design our camp activities and field trips around their abilities. SMS summer camp is a way for the Middle Years students to stay in touch with their school friends while building new friendships over the summer holidays.
What makes SMS camps special vs. other options out there?
Our camps are offered from 8:00am - 5:30pm, which coincides with most parents' work schedules, and we offer the option to register week-to-week so families have flexibility to go on holidays. We have a beautiful campus with a lot of facilities including Garry Oak meadow and forest, science lab, art studio, computer lab, culinary arts kitchen, dance studio, tennis courts, and more! We are also centrally located, so we have quick bus trips to our field trip destinations including the Saanich Commonwealth Pool, Mount Douglas Park, Swan Lake, beaches, downtown museums and art galleries, and more!
Our camps were designed by a collaborative team of teachers, and activities will be facilitated by a number of subject experts including teachers from all grades within our school as well as invited guests from the community. The result will be a really rich experience for everyone.
Describe the type of family who will dig our camps.
Families that want flexibility, but also want a fun and engaging experience for their child over the summer. Especially at the Middle Years age-group girls are getting to the age where they can stay home – but where’s the fun in that? The timing of our camp was also designed with parents' schedules in mind for pick-up and drop-off. What's unique about our program are the sheer variety of themes week-by-week, and the unusual combinations of activities within each theme that will give girls the chance to try activities they have never experienced and see parts of the city they’ve never visited on our ample fieldtrips.
Tell me about a typical day at SMS summer camp.
We begin our day with a self-guided activity – kind of an ice-breaker – that relates to our daily theme and goals, as students continue to arrive with our staggered entry until 9am. In the mornings and afternoons there will be planned activities and outdoor play every day, separated by lunch and snack breaks. Also, though our facilities on site are extensive, our camp includes numerous field trips to expose kids to fun and exciting sites all over Greater Victoria. And when the weather gets really hot, it’s time to break out the sprinkler, pools, and water balloons, which are always a big hit.
What do you hope girls will get out of the experience over the summer months?
With our extensive variety of camp themes, I hope our girls get introduced to something they didn't know they were passionate about and get inspired by our special guests, experts, and teachers. I also hope to see new friendships develop and learning through play. This summer the girls will be biologists, environmentalists, engineers, actors, singers, dancers, triathletes, historians, artists, and chefs.
There are various themes this year, what are you most excited about and why?
I am especially looking forward to the Try-A-Tri: Introduction to Triathlon Camp. For those that know me, I am passionate about the sport of triathlon (swim, bike, run) and have been racing in various triathlons throughout BC and Alberta for 10 years. After watching our SMS Triathlon Club students race in last year's Victoria Youth Triathlon, I was inspired by the perseverance and courage from the kids competing in this challenging sport. I also want to introduce girls to triathlon and help them gain confidence in their swimming, biking, and running abilities as these are lifelong skills that transfer to so many other sports.
However, I am most excited about the variety, the people we will be collaborating with, and the multiple field trips we will have each week!