camp connects kids to nature and community

Brian Major’s Story: Moorelands Camp Connects Kids to Nature and Community!

Brian Major - camp connects kids to nature and community

“The good thing about Moorelands Camp is it connects kids to a whole range of positive adult connections, it might be a cabin leader or a person in in the adventure program or a section head. Whoever it is, that connection is so powerful as it gives them a caring adult outside of the home in whom they can confide and trust.”

Brian Major, Camp Staff Alum

If you want to know how camp connects kids to nature and community, just ask Brian Major. Memories of his time on Kawagama Lake, the beauty of the peninsula, and the friendships he formed have never left Brian who was a camp counsellor at Moorelands during the summers of 1989, 1990, 1991. Recently Brian reached out to Moorelands Kids in the hope that sharing his Moorelands memories might help him reconnect him to friends from camp. Let’s see if we can help Brian get connected once again!

Brian first came to work at Moorelands Camp when his father, Bill Major, took on the role of Executive Director of what was then known as the Downtown Churchworkers Association. For Brian, growing up in a small community north of Sudbury, coming to Moorelands Camp was an incredibly eye-opening experience…

My life before that point had been pretty sheltered. Coming to work at Moorelands Camp gave me the opportunity to interact with people from different walks of life.  It was also very multicultural – before Moorelands I hadn’t interacted with people from very many different backgrounds, so when I first arrived at camp everything was very new to me. I was a little bit overwhelmed!

New Experiences, New Learnings

The opportunity for both campers and staff to have new experiences that promote learning and growth is one of the great benefits of Moorelands Camp. And this was true for Brian too:

“Working at camp really prepared me for my next steps: to live in Toronto and go to school there. But it also started me on the journey of my career path – I learned that I enjoyed working with youth and it helped me assess what I wanted to do professionally.

Today Brian works in the field of youth mental health for the Canadian Mental Health Association in their early psychosis team.  He supports youth who are struggling with their first episode and experiencing psychosis for the first time.  He often interacts with youth who are misusing drugs and in his role he provides them with support through the recovery process of both mental health and addiction issues.

Camp Connections Promote Positive Youth Mental Health

Does Moorelands play a role in supporting kids’ mental health? I ask.

I think it can, yes.” Brian explains. “While Moorelands isn’t a treatment program, you may indirectly be reaching youth who are beginning to experience mental health problems and you can assist with early intervention. Moorelands creates a safe space for kids to connect – you can’t underestimate the impact of a strong role model. For a young person to have another young adult that believes in them, it’s a very positive experience.

Youth experiencing negative mental health challenges often find themselves struggling on their own. But if they feel connected to a positive role model that they can trust, they may open up to that person and ask for support.

One of the issues that we have seen rising out of the pandemic is that youth-at-risk have been isolated from their school networks. So where in the past they may have sought help from a teacher or guidance counselor, that support was lost.

“The good thing about Moorelands Camp is it connects kids to a whole range of positive adult connections, it might be a cabin leader or a person in in the adventure program or a section head. Whoever it is, that connection is so powerful as it gives them a caring adult outside of the home in whom they can confide and trust.”

Connecting kids to Nature

For Brian one of the big joys of working at camp was being there for kids to not only to support their growth but to see them experience the joys of nature for the first time.

There was one child I remember who was a newcomer to Canada and he had never been outside of Toronto before. He thought that all of Canada was just a big, industrialized city! When he arrived at camp for the first time, it was like a spiritual experience for him.  I remember watching him take in the scenic nature for the first time and he started to cry. He said, “I didn’t know that Canada was like this.” He was completely overcome. That moment really stuck with me and showed me the importance of what we were doing.

For Brian, the positive benefits of Moorelands Camp are twofold. The campers get to have those powerful interactions with role models and nature that they wouldn’t otherwise have; and their parents get to have a bit of respite. Something many parents really need right now with the ongoing pandemic.

Those connections, however, are important for staff too. Many significant friendships are forged by working at camp. Though Brian initially kept in contact with his friends at camp, as often happens, life gets in the way and people move on with their lives.

Were you at camp with Brian? Get in touch with us so we can connect you! Sign up to our Alumni list using the form below and let us know you knew Brian!

Help us learn about the impact of Moorelands Kids on our staff and participants: take the Alumni Survey!

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e.g. What programs did you work at/attend? Favourite anecdotes/memories? What did you learn? How did it change you?

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