Hunter Finnegan, left, and Megan Cawthorne, a City of Nanaimo parks and recreation department tennis camp instructor, ham it up during a session on July 5. Summer leaders like Cawthorne have to undergo training in order to lead a day camp. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

ACTIVE LIFE: Nanaimo summer campers follow the leaders

Summer day camp leaders undergo training from City of Nanaimo parks and recreation department

Children enrolled in City of Nanaimo parks and rec department’s day camps are following trained leaders as they stay active in the summer months.

Megan Cawthorne leads a tennis camp at Bowen Park recreation complex. The Cedar Community Secondary School teacher has a bachelor of arts in physical education and English and has just completed the bachelor of education program at Vancouver Island University and also has previous experience running numerous parks and rec programs, such as Spare Blox. The camp allows her to use her accumulated skills.

“Basically, interacting with children and leadership skills are really big for this position as a summer leader,” said Cawthorne. “Fun is another big skill and … being flexible. You have to know what the kids are into that day and learning how to change up your activity to how the kids are feeling, is really important.”

Given Cawthorne’s education background, she is used to preparing day plans, but she said it helps to have a contingency, to keep it interesting and fun for children.

“Say we’re playing a tennis activity and it’s not going so well, we can switch it up with a tag game or a game that helps us settle down if we’re really rowdy or really super excited, or if we’re feeling a little bit tired, something to spice it up and get the kids more active,” said Cawthorne. “So again, that’s talking about the skill of being very flexible.”

Tara Fedosoff, city recreation coordinator, said the 50-plus summer leaders are required to know first aid and must undergo training, which took place in late June.

“It’s an opportunity for all the leaders to meet each other and one of the tasks that we do within our agenda is always to assign group discussions so that we’re placing more experienced leaders with some of our new ones to create some mentorship discussions,” said Fedosoff. “A lot of the agenda weighs heavy to policy and procedures and that’s to make sure that the children are safe in camp, as are the staff working the camp.”

Fedosoff said creative problem-solving is are part of that. Fun and playful scenarios are given for group discussion.

Tennis camp runs Mondays to Fridays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., until Aug. 24.

There are numerous other activities for the summer, including the Summer Playground Program, according to Chelsea Barr, parks and rec communication clerk. These are free programs that happen throughout the summer and run at different playgrounds Monday through Friday from July 4-Aug. 29, she said.

It runs Monday to Friday at Harewood Centennial and Mansfield parks, Monday to Wednesday at Carmanah and Country Hills parks and Thursday to Friday at Groveland Park and Coal Tyee school – all run 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

“It’s basically a drop-in program for kids to come,” said Barr. “There’s a leader there that can put them through some crafts and games and that kind of thing. Parents are welcome to stay and interact, but also bring them for something more than just the playground.”

For more information on other programs see the parks and recreation activity guide, available at city recreation centres or online, under the ‘Recreation and Parks’ tab at

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