Do Things that Scare You

Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that's the one that is going to require the most from you. Do you really want to look back on your life and see how wonderful

Hey guys,

Happy September!!

I hope you’re all maxin’ and relaxin’ and starting to wind down from your busy summer season.

And if you’re still going strong with rentals, or outdoor-ed – YOU CAN DO IT! YOU’VE GOT THIS! YOU’RE ALMOST THERE! *CLAP, CLAP, CLAP*

(I just did a race… that sort of motivation helped me… lol)


Speaking of my race. Let’s talk about things that scare us, and why we should do them.

Fiddlers Run

I started running about two or three years ago, and fell in love. I did a 10k and a 5k, then I got ultra lazy and stopped running. So a few months ago, I signed my husband and I up for a 10k, cause I figured it would inspire me to start running again.

It didn’t.

I did not train for this thing AT ALL.

He did, but noooo not me.

So race day came and I said “yeah, I’ll do it anyway.”
So I ran about half of it, and walked half – I probably could have run more, but apparently I’m 90 and my hip started paining like crazy… so I went easy – I wasn’t going to break any records either way.


Walking into a scenario where you know you can’t quit (and lie down on the side of the road) and you also know you’re not prepared is sort of terrifying.

But I’m glad I did it, cause the race did the trick, and now I’m motivated to run again, and I also know I never want to do a 10k without preparing for it. Live and learn!


The Proposal

So, as I mentioned in this post, I decided that I was going to resign from my full-time job and focus on starting my own camp. (If that’s not doing what’s scary, I don’t know what is!!)

But everything sort of just started falling into place with it, and I just had a feeling in my gut that it was going to work out. Maybe it’s naïveté, maybe it’s confidence… maybe a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B… who knows. But I never wavered in my belief that it was going to happen and it was going to be awesome.

Then I started working with the folks at Common Good Solutions and they pointed out that I should probably do more than just camp to make this whole thing sustainable and suggested that I approach the folks at the camp I’ve been helping/ have an agreement with and suggest to them that I take over/ revamp/ improve their rental program.

I was like “yes, you’re right. I should do that. Brilliant idea.” Also… I was terrified.

I don’t know what the difference was, it’s the same group of people, essentially the same sort of thing… but for some reason I was a lot more frightened of a “no” this time around.

BUT, I did it anyway, I prepared a partnership proposal, emailed the chair of the board to run it by him first (because he has been the one looking after bookings), and I heard nothing.

So I followed up with a phone call… still nothing.

Now, in my rational, adult, brain I thought “ok, well something’s obviously come up. I know I’m going to see him soon at a camp event, I’ll have a quick chat with him then. I know that this person likes and respects me so there’s an obvious explanation for why he hasn’t gotten back to me.”

Which is all true.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the background, my 14-year-old lizard brain is shouting “OH my God… He HATES me!!! Crap, crap, crap. You shouldn’t have sent an email, you should have asked him to coffee instead then broached the subject so he couldn’t get away, you’ve ruined EVERYTHING, stupid adult Patti.”

I have a pretty good handle on the 14-year-old lizard brain, so I told her to shhh and sit down until after I saw him at the camp event. And if that didn’t go well, then the freaking out could commence.

Fortunately, it all worked out the way my adult, logical brain promised it would and he met me at my car as I was pulling into camp, gave me a big hug and said “I’m sorry, I haven’t been avoiding you! G and I are going to meet with you about your email”.

Then we both had to run off because we had things to do at the event.

So, whew! What a rollercoaster of emotions.

I’m really glad that I didn’t let fear stop me from asking, because this will make a huge difference in terms of how quickly I can get my business off the ground. We still haven’t had our meeting yet (because this just happened last Sunday) but I’ll keep you guys updated when I do!
I’m definitely feeling a bit more confident now than I was though.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 3.27.17 PM

The Podcast

So remember in this post when I was all secretive and alluded to a fun/ terrifying thing that Curt and I were doing?  Welp. Cat’s outta the bag. We’re doing a podcast!!

We figured it would be a fun (and mildly terrifying) way of expanding on what we’re doing with Patchwork (and our blog and website really) which is, talking about camp and recreation, sharing information in a fun, kinda goofy, but always helpful, way.



So, the reason this is SO terrifying for me is because I feel like I’m pretty self-aware. And I know that I tend to have a polarizing personality… people either REALLY like me or they REALLLLLLLY don’t. There’s not usually a lot of people who go “eh, take ‘er or leave ‘er” (Maybe that’s just because I live in a place where people tend to have opinions on everyone…lol. Who’s to say!?)

Also, I’m freakin’ weird.
We’ve recorded our first two episodes, and I was trying so hard to act like a “normal human” LOL.
We’ll see how that turned out.

Annnnd, I have a Cape Breton accent – and now that I’m home, it’s getting thicker. And I sort of hate that. I cringed when I listed back.

BUT in the spirit of doing things that scare you to help you grow, I’m giving it a shot. And I had fun recoding the first two episodes. So hopefully, some of you will decide to listen, and you won’t think it’s the worst.

If we can entertain, inspire, or educate even one person, I’d be happy. And then if that person went to Patchwork and decided to become a seller I’d be even more happy!! hahaha (but seriously).

I’ll let ya’s know when the first episode goes live (pssst. It’ll be next week). Are you following me on social media? Depending on the device you’re using, check out the side bar or scroll down, all of my links are there. I’ll post there when we’re live too.


What things have you done lately that have scared you?
Is there something you’re thinking about doing that’s terrifying? I say go for it!
Tell me about it in the comment section below.


Categories: Quotable Camp | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Zones of Regulation at Camp

As you may or may not know, I helped out at a day camp for three weeks this summer.

It was awesome!

I was so impressed with their programming. The camp director, Megan, did an exceptional job of putting together the workshops, creating a sensible flow for the day, and being flexible with camper needs & interests.

One of the coolest things I saw was a “Zones of Regulation” area for campers and staff.


We were each given a popsicle stick to write our name on, and we were encouraged to put our popsicle stick in the container that most closely reflected how we were feeling.

We did it first thing in the morning and then changed it as needed as the day went on.

And do you know what was the coolest part? The campers used it!!

They made their way over every morning, then would check in with it throughout the day.

We could use it in our conversations with them too, to help us and them identify their feelings where they may not have been able to otherwise, instead of saying, “I’m feeling anxious” they could say, “I’m feeling in the yellow zone”.


There were even a few mornings where I popped my popsicle stick into the blue cup because I was feeling TIRED… and you know what? It was nice to be able to acknowledge that.

Many classrooms have adopted this system, and I think it would be an excellent addition to any camp or recreation program as a way of helping children and youth (and adults!) learn the concept of self-regulation & emotional control.


The zones of regulation were created by Occupational Therapist Leah Kuypers in 2011. You can visit her website for more information. (I recommend it!!)


Were there any cool programs, activities, or moments at your camp this summer?
Tell me all about it in the comment section below.

Until next week.


Categories: Self Care at Camp | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

August Update

What an exciting couple of months it’s been!!!

Here’s a little update about what’s been going on:

Patchwork Marketplace

Curt and I are so excited that people have continued to use Patchwork during the summer months. We expected tumbleweeds to be blowing through but it seems that people are always looking for high quality, low-cost resources even at the last minute which is just fine with us! We’re starting to shift gears now and focus on the community rec folks, cause we know after school programs will be starting up soon and people will be looking for resources for those programs too.

Continue reading

Categories: Opening My Own Camp | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Enjoying the Journey

A couple of weeks ago I dropped my husband off at work, and had planned to go to the gym on the way home. I had a whole list of things I wanted to get done that morning and had about 30 minutes for the gym.

As I was driving I was coming to a turn in the road that would lead to a local park/ trail. At the last-minute I thought, ‘You know what? Today is a beautiful day! I’ll go for a 30 minute walk instead of the gym’. I took the last minute turn and got excited about venturing out on the little walking trail I’d been on a few times. Continue reading

Categories: Opening My Own Camp, The Path We Take... | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camp Sick

camp sick

Ok, I’ve totally been feeling camp sick.

As you may or may not know, I resigned from my full time camp job in February (actually I resigned in Nov or Dec, but I finished working in February) and while I’m happy with my decision and SO excited about the new adventures I’m embarking on, I can’t help but miss camp at this time of year.


I was fine, I was looking forward, excited, not thinking about my former camp a whole lot… then they posted a photo during staff training.

Continue reading

Categories: Self Care at Camp, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Rules for Behaviour Modification

You guys, I know you know this, but it’s worth saying again… there are some seriously wonderful, brilliant, and generous camp folks out there.

One of them happens to be my “internet friend” Dave Hennessy.
Dave and I were chatting the other day, checking in with each other on how our goals and future plans are going and he mentioned one of his “DaveRules” during that conversation. I, of course, asked for more information and when he shared his set of rules with me I LOVED the concept and asked him to write something that I could share with you good folks in my little corner of the internet.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Dave, and offer him a huge thank you for sharing his rules for behaviour modification with us.



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Categories: Listables | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

International Camp Directors Course 2017




Hey camp friends,

Remember when I shared this post  back in in December?

Well in case you didn’t read it, the Reader’s Digest Version ( for those of you who don’t get the reference, that means the abridged version. Am I dating myself? Do people still read Reader’s Digest? My friends used to tease me mercilessly when I was a teenager because I LOVED that little magazine.) is that I was a huge fan and I think everyone should take the course.

Continue reading

Categories: New Camp Director Pro Tip | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Women in Camping


When I first started as a counsellor I knew right away this was something I wanted to do forever. I couldn’t imagine a better gig and I was determined to figure out how to keep working in camping as a real life, grown up job.

Ashley and me

This was my first summer at camp. This my friend Ashley and I dressed up in “fancy clothes” drinking Mocktails that we made with our adult campers for a patio party.

One of the first things I did was to begin actively paying attention to the people around me and the structure that was holding us all together.

Female vs. Male campers/ Counsellors/ Directors

Over the next few years there were a few things I began noticing, we always had lots of female campers, in fact if we didn’t have a cap for cabin assignments, we’d probably end up with way more females than males.

We had an abundance of female counsellors too, and we almost always struggled to get male counsellors. This became especially clear during my first few years as a seasonal director when I was partially responsible for putting together my summer team.

We would have loads of really phenomenal female applicants, and unfortunately we couldn’t hire them all because we didn’t run an all girls camp and needed some male role models too. But it was often a struggle to get male applicants, let alone really great ones.

Often what would happen is that we’d end up having more female staff than male and they would be paired with a male counsellor and work on a boys cabin. It wasn’t ideal, but I always said I’d rather have a really amazing female over a not so great male.

I hate the idea of hiring someone based on the body parts they own, or the gender they identify with – but residential camps have policies about who can work in which cabins.

Here’s the strangest thing I noticed though. There were lots of female campers, and lots of female counsellors but not all that many female directors. Huh.

I don’t just mean at my camp(s) but camping within my province in general.
Weird, right?

What is happening between all of those female campers & counsellors and directors

Here’s a really poorly drawn diagram of what my perceived experience was.

*Please note, there is exactly zero scientific evidence to back this up, I haven’t done any studies, and don’t have access to what the camper/ staff numbers were back in the early to mid 2000’s. This is simply a representation of what I was seeing.

Female to Male

Why yes, I did draw this diagram on a piece of scrap paper with some markers I had lying around. Thank you for noticing.


With that said, there were a lot of women in leadership positions at the International Camp Directors Course I attended last November, and there are lots of women in many of the online camping communities I participate in – although I don’t have any data on those numbers either. So maybe it’s a regional phenomena?


Women as Role Models

I have been so fortunate to work with some really fantastic humans in my career so far. Some of them have been women and some of those women have been supervisors and others have been colleagues or employees.

I’ve actively sought out women I admire, to say hello, chat with them, learn from them, or work with them.

I make an effort to encourage the women I interact with at camp to pursue a career in camping if that’s what they want, to take big chances, speak up for themselves when they feel like they’re being dismissed, and to support each other.

I also make an effort to encourage the men I work with to pursue a career in camping if that’s what they want, to take big chances, and to be aware of some of the challenges their colleagues face and of times they’re being dismissed simply because of the weird social roles society had attached to body parts and/ or identity.


Strong and Independent 

One of the questions I always ask on the Head Counsellor application is “Why are you a strong role model for new staff?” and my returning staff always try to give serious answers  in the funniest way. So one of my returnees answered “I am a strong and independent women…” and it has become a catch phrase for the entire camp (with permission of course, although we still tease her about it a little bit.)

But I love that!

Camp DOES breed (and attract) strong and independent women and men.

And it’s our job to create environments that foster that type of confidence and strength and to be those strong role models for our young staff. I’ve been so fortunate to work in some really incredible cultures, but I’ve also had some bizarre encounters too.


My Experience as a Female Director

I have had some really amazing, incredible, phenomenal, – other adjectives to describe “good” – experiences in my directing career. And I’ve had some super challenging ones too. But the only experiences that truly frustrate me are the ones that are directly related to me being a woman.

One memory that really stands out to me (though it wasn’t the first or last time this type of thing has happened) happened during my first year as a seasonal res camp director, which would have made me around 23 or 24. (Although I still looked like I was 12.)

I was waiting for some repair person to fix the fridge, or washer, or something that couldn’t be fixed with duct tape – I don’t remember what exactly. I saw the van coming up the drive so started making my way out to meet them.

One of the counsellors wanted to run something by me so we chatted while walking to meet the repair person. The counsellor was an 18-year-old guy who was on staff for his second summer (he also looked 12), we chatted about whatever it was he wanted to ask me and I excused myself when the repairman got out of his van, the counsellor waited around because he had a follow-up question.

I introduced myself as the camp director and the person who had called him about the fridge/ washer/ whatever, he shook my hand, introduced himself and proceeded to look over my shoulder and ask the counsellor standing behind me what the problem was with the equipment.

The counsellor, who had nothing to do with the equipment and who only knew there was a problem because I had told him about it 5 minutes before, answered, “uhh, yeah, we’re not sure what’s wrong with it, but it just stopped working early this morning.”

The repairman said, “ok why don’t you show me where it is and we’ll have a look at it”. And he and the counsellor started walking toward the main building while the repairman started asking some follow-up questions.

That’s when I came out of my shocked stupor and said “actually Jim*, why don’t you head back with the campers and I’ll show Mr. MacNeil* where the equipment is, then I’ll come check in with you and answer any other questions you have, ok.”

The counsellor made his way back to his campers and I showed the repairman where the equipment was, and answered the rest of his questions.


Ok, so to some of you reading this, it may not sound like a big deal, and in the scheme of things it’s not earth shattering, but it is an excellent example of what women sometimes come up against.

Not only did the repairman look to the closest male for information and verification, but the counsellor went along with it rather than saying, “actually she’s the one you should talk to” – he jumped in and answered questions even though he had almost no information. Not because he’s a bad guy (he wasn’t, he was a great guy and an awesome counsellor), but that was the norm of the society we are a product of – the “man” or 18-year-old kid, as the case may be, is expected to have all of the answers ESPECIALLY if it has something to do with repairs/ trades/ hands-on things.

So that was a super weird experience that left me feeling … icky, for lack of a better word.  It’s not even the most frustrating or uncomfortable situation I’ve been in, just the one that stands out most in my memory.

If I encountered the situation today, I’d have used it as a teaching moment and (nicely) pointed out to both men what was happening. I’ve done it a few times over the years; I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable standing up for myself as I got older and I’ve tried to work hard to create camp cultures where everyone feels respected and heard.


Moving Forward

We have such a cool opportunity at camp to empower kids to embrace who they are and feel powerful.

There’s so much scary, weird, stuff happening in the world right now that it’s more important than ever that camp is one of the safe places for young people to learn how to speak up for themselves, and not only feel powerful, but learn how to empower their peers too.

So let’s make a promise that we won’t shy away from those teachable moments (even if they’re uncomfortable), that we’ll constantly evaluate our culture and our biases, and that we’ll encourage young women to speak up, speak out, and step up as leaders.

What do you do in your camp to encourage “strong and independent” and supportive campers? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.


*Names have been changed.

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Camp Counsellor Hiring Season

Woah, what a whirlwind couple of weeks. I finished up my full-time camp director job, officially got started working with the faith-based camp I mentioned in this post and launched Patchwork Marketplace. It’s been chaotic and SO MUCH FUN!!

But once again, my little blog took a hit when it came to managing my time, so I apologize for that – especially to Dan who asked a pretty great question about staff hiring and balancing that with camp prep and the million other things you need to do this time of year.

So, even though it’s later than I had planned… here’s some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, although I’m so far from an expert in any of this, I hope my experiences will help at least a little.


Fitting it all in

Ok, so I realize this is probably not very helpful at this time of year but it’s worth saying anyway, usually in September or early October I create my work plan and map out when and how I’m going to accomplish all of my big tasks throughout the year.
I try to get the bulk of my program planning, pre summer prep completed in the fall because I know from January to May is going to be straight out madness. (That made sense for my schedule, each camp program is so unique that you will likely need to adapt that to your specific schedule.)

I was the only person solely dedicated to camp in my organization, so that meant I did everything from staff recruiting & hiring, to program development, and even camper registration – we had a development team so I got a small reprieve from grant writing and marketing, but worked quite a bit with the team to help in those areas too… so I totally get that overwhelming feeling of needing to do everything and never having enough time. I feel your pain!

What I started doing the last few years was carving out certain parts of my day for specific tasks – for instance I had a little checklist of things I needed to do for registration and I would go through that first thing in the morning and right after lunch (simply because the mail arrived after lunch and since it was a pretty recent transition to an online registration system we still had quite a few mail applications, and I always worked on it first thing in the morning so I would have answers if someone asked me how registration was going later in the day). Continue reading

Categories: New Camp Director Pro Tip | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Patchwork Marketplace

Patchwork pattern of rainbow colors.

Hi camp friends,

If you follow me on social media you would have seen me post about this already, but I thought I’d share a little more info about it here. I am just so proud and excited about this project. And if you don’t follow me on social media, this will be brand new information! Exciting! Also, let’s be friends, all of my social media links are on the sidebar. –>

How Patchwork Marketplace Came To Be

Ok, so if you’ve been around these parts before you may have seen this post by Curt Jackson in my “Path” series. And also this post about how exciting it is to work with new people in blog land and in camping. Well, once Curt and I chatted a bit, wrote for each other’s blogs we decided that we wanted to work on another project together. We brainstormed a little bit, designed some (awesome) t-shirts, wrote a few fun quizzes and other posts but we were still looking for a bigger project to work on.

Then he mentioned that he always thought it would be neat to have a site similar to the ones available for teachers but for camp and recreation professionals.

Cue record scratch.


Hold the presses.


That’s freakin’ brilliant!

I said, “umm, YEAH!” so we put all of our resources into creating Patchwork Marketplace.

And I’m super excited about it.

Then we came up with the name Patchwork because it sort of encompassed all of the things we were trying to accomplish with the marketplace. There’s an explanation on the site, click here to read it.
(If you join our beta test, you can have access now. More about that at the bottom)

Collaboration friends, it’s where it’s at!

Sooo… What Is It We’re Doing?

Continue reading

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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