a peek inside the fishbowl

26 Jul, 2012

It’s guest post week! Today it’s about summer camps and activities that can shape careers

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Guest postings

It’s been guest post week here at the Fishbowl, and this is the last one. Today’s post is by Dr. Alan Viau. He’s a local wedding chaplain. His blog is chock full of great Ottawa-related wedding resources and he’s on twitter as @weddingchaplain. Alan is a really interesting fellow and I love the topic he proposed for his post because it’s something I often wonder about. Read on!

The eldest of my three kids turned thirty this month! Passing such a milestone causes you to reflect on many things about parenthood. One realization was how much summer camps and activities shaped their choice of careers as young adults.

I am shaking my head in the disbelief that my son has turned thirty. Thirty is such a big milestone in most people’s lives. It is now the average marrying age for example. However, for me, thirty meant that I had been married for several years with three children.

Maureen and I were married in 1981 and immediately had children. We made the decision to be a single income family so that Maureen could personally care for Jonathan, Alaina and Keenan. We never had much money and needed to be careful about enrolling our kids in any activity.

Each summer, we decided on summer camps and activities for them. Economics certainly played a factor in which things we could consider. Distance from our home was another and so was the interest our kids showed. We also strongly felt that they did not need to be in back-to-back activities all summer long. They needed time to play – to just be kids.

Over the years we examined and tried all sorts of summer camps and activities. I am a scientist and exposed the kids to things technical and scientific. But they never got excited enough for us to consider science camps.

We tried soccer for a while. Jonathan, the eldest, was very fond of watching his shadow as he ran across the field. If the ball came his way, he panicked seeing all the players coming his way. He quickly got rid of it as fast as he could. Once we had Alaina enrolled as well, the logistics of ferrying two kids across the city to two different games or practices at the same time were overwhelming. None of the kids really showed real aptitude for sports, so we decided to not pursue those further.

We hit pay dirt when we enrolled them into the Arts & Crafts camps offered by the City of Guelph and Musical Theatre camps from a local piano teacher. They met all our criteria. Those camps unleashed their creative selves. They were so keen on them that we found them continuing those activities once they got home.


(Musical “Adventures of the Aquanauts” with Alaina as Jeanne Luc Pickerel)


(Coloring with pastels on the dining room table after Art camp)

They also loved a local overnight farm camp. They would leave on Monday and return Friday. They did chores in the morning, picked eggs from under the chickens, tended the gardens and the pigs, cows and goat. They learned where their food came from. In the afternoon, they rode horses and played in a pool. What fun it was to sleep in a covered wagon overnight!


(Having fun with horses at farm camp)

In between those camps, they had home time. They would help mum with making cookies, bread, or muffins. They also weeded the garden and ate freshly picked sun-warmed tomatoes as a treat.


(Always ready to help clean up the mixer beater)

When we found camps and activities that the kids loved, we gained insight as to what made them tick. We continued to encourage them in these interests. Their interests developed into passion filled careers.

Today they are all grown up and live in Toronto. Jonathan is a sous-chef at Pure Spirits and Oyster House. He emphasizes fresh sustainable food. Alaina finished a Bachelor of Music and is now the Vocal Performance Production Manager at the Glenn Gould School of Music. Keenan completed Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre Performance Program and is a working triple threat (actor, dancer, singer).


(Left-to-Right Keenan, Alaina and Jonathan at Alaina’s wedding in 2011)

Kids don’t come with user manuals. As parents, we can keenly observe what turns them on and encourage them. Summer camps and activities are great ways to expose them all sorts of interests. Those interests can be shaped into meaningful careers and lives.

2 Responses to "It’s guest post week! Today it’s about summer camps and activities that can shape careers"

1 | Carolyn

July 27th, 2012 at 1:34 pm


Loved this post. My eldest was always resistant to the camps that involved learning sports or doing crafts yet those types are so plentiful in the city. This year we stuck upon an Architecture camp at the ROM and bingo! He loves it and is learning so much. So, while our youngest is enthusiastically enjoying ‘Multi-Sport,’ his brother is learning about Toronto’s buildings.

2 | Car camping at Lake St. Peter, a great campground near Bancroft. >> a peek inside the fishbowl

July 30th, 2012 at 8:45 am


[…] all I wanted to send out a big thank you to my three guest bloggers this week: Hollie, Giulia, and Alan for holding down the fort while we were away. I hope you took the time to read their posts and […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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