By: Namish Modi (he/him)

Whether leading a group of campers or helping to develop programs, Waterloo co-op students are an integral part of Camp Brebeuf.   

Operating out of Rockwood, Ontario, Camp Brebeuf is a year-round, faith-based, youth adventure camp. The camp caters to kids aged four to 17 and offers both day camp and overnight programs. Waterloo co-op students, especially first work term students, are the driving force behind the camp’s operations.  

"What really motivates us to hire Waterloo students is that we love the enthusiasm and energy that they bring. You can really see them grow as a person throughout the season. And hopefully, gain new skills that they’ll use every single day of their life."

ROBERT YOUNG (he/him), outdoor education coordinator at Camp Bebreuf

At Camp Brebeuf, students work as outdoor education facilitators leading large groups of kids through various activities. The camp hires primarily from the faculties of Environment and Health with a focus on talent from the Kinesiology and Therapeutic Recreation programs. Camp Brebeuf looks to hire students who are keen on working outdoors and in a unique environment.

Young considers Waterloo students to be the face, or front line, of the organization. Students often develop and run sessions for large groups of campers across various demographics. Winter sessions include activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing. In the summer, activities include archery, canoeing and a high ropes course.  

Remote video URL

Waterloo students bring innovative ideas and flexibility  

The camp environment requires lots of creativity and ability to adapt to change. “I think the main thing that sets Waterloo students apart from everyone else is their enthusiasm and willingness to give everything a go,” says Young. Working as outdoor education facilitators, students often engage with large groups of campers who have a variety of unique needs.

In planning and facilitating these activities, students showcase their adaptability and help the camp to run successful programs. “I’d say the biggest talent needed is adaptability,” says Young. “No two days have ever been the same. Everything changes all the time, depending on the group of campers. Things change on the fly quite a lot, so it’s important they are adaptable.”  

David Orlando

David Orlando
Kinesiology student

David Orlando (he/him), a first work term student and Kinesiology major worked as an outdoor education facilitator at Camp Brebeuf in winter 2023.

When campers needed extra attention, Orlando showcased his flexibility by adapting the program on the spot to ensure campers had a great experience.

“I really enjoy working one-to-one with the campers who need extra support, I really enjoy the personal bond you build with them,” says Orlando.

“Seeing them grow over time especially, you can really see each day how we’re impacting the children.”

Sarah Alexander (she/her) is also a Kinesiology student who worked at Camp Brebeuf in winter 2023.

She was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work as an outdoor education facilitator with the campers in this unique environment and utilized her strong communications skills in her day-to-day work.

“Working with children in so many different aspects has challenged me in different ways,” says Alexander.

“It’s always rewarding. Earlier this week, I was working with a child who is deaf. I don’t know ASL (American Sign Language) at all, but I was very interested in learning.”

Sarah Alexender

Sarah Alexander
Kinesiology student

Fellow camp staff appreciated Alexander’s strong interpersonal skills. “I would definitely say the staff here are amazing,” says Alexander. “I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I really show that I care a lot about not only just the campers, but how my other staff are doing,” adds Orlando.

“Whenever I see someone struggling, I really want to be there to help them in always going out of my way to really try to make sure they feel supported. Anytime, they do need that support, they can come to me.”  

Part of that camaraderie of staff wanting to help each other is built through the fact that co-op students stay together on-site during their work terms. As part of their compensation, students receive accommodations and food at the camp.    

“After our shifts we are all together. We even go outside the camp and just hang out and do activities together,” says Orlando. “We really bond with staff members here, as opposed to other jobs, I don’t think I’ve had that before.” The strong bond helps create a friendly and positive atmosphere for staff and campers.    

Related stories

University of Waterloo co-op student demonstrating how to wakeboard to campers at Muskoka Woods

Camp co-op an ideal fit for first-term work students

Working at a camp provides a unique opportunity for students to live on-site and gain valuable experience for their future. On the shores of beautiful Lake Rosseau, just east of Georgian Bay, is a picturesque camp where each summer, hundreds of young people make memories that can last a lifetime.

First-year students have a fresh outlook and often have not made their mind up about their future, Jones adds.