Our next story comes from Sophie Steele, an alumni of the Sasamat Outdoor Centre. In this story, Sophie shares how Sasamat had a large impact on her time as an adolescent, and how the experience changed her life. We hope you enjoy her story!

Summer camp can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people. To Sophie Steele, it was a safe place to learn and grow.

Sophie experienced Sasamat in many ways. She attended Sasamat as a participant, joining the day camp, resident camp, counsellor-in-training (CIT) and leadership programs. But she also spent six years working at Sasamat as a Sasamites leader, a resident camp leader, a CIT instructor and as a coordinator and leadership instructor.

"As a child, I fell in love with summer camp because of the sense of belonging that was fostered in that environment."

She first heard about the Sasamat Outdoor Centre through family friends at the age of five, but her Sasamat journey continued until she was 16. She made lifelong friendships, developed her leadership skills and grew her confidence throughout her time at Sasamat.

"When I was in high school, I began the leadership program. This was my safe space and the highlight of my week. I began learning things like leadership skills, group management, and activity programming. When I entered the program, I was extremely reserved and shy. And when I left, I had started to become the leader I had always wanted to be... I was able to grow immensely and discover my passion for working with young people."

Sophie described her experience at Sasamat as joyful, hilarious, heartwarming and challenging. She shared Sasamat’s immense impact on her life and how Sasamat built her into the person she is today.

“Without Sasamat, I wouldn't be me. I am immensely grateful for all the lifelong memories, life lessons, friendships and opportunities that Sasamat has brought to my life.”

Sophie shared some of the values that were strengthened through her time at Sasamat, including integrity, creativity, dependability, community and environmentalism. At the Sasamat Outdoor Centre, whether you are a volunteer, a participant or a staff member, you have
numerous opportunities to connect with yourself in nature. Sasamat believes in the power of the outdoors, and the immense impact it can have on our physical and mental health.

“Sasamat has an immense impact on my life today. I believe that Sasamat is the place that “built” me and was one of my largest protective factors throughout my adolescence. As a young staff, I was taught how to be professional, the importance of staff development and how to
work really hard. The friends I made working at Sasamat are still my best friends today and the relationships that I built with mentors and mentees are still present in my life. Additionally, my connections at Sasamat have helped me find countless new opportunities for employment.”

Sophie says that her own “sasababies” will definitely attend the Sasamat Outdoor Centre in hopes that they have similar experiences with the programs.

“As a child, nowhere in the world is more fun than summer camp. At Sasamat, the community, sense of belonging and traditions can be felt and are kept alive by each new generation of enthusiastic staff.”

To learn more about camps offered by Sasamat Outdoor Centre, click here.