“They say the happiest place on earth is Disneyland. They’re wrong. It’s camp.” Author Unknown.
Shelley MacDonald is spearheading happy in Lismore, Nova Scotia this summer as she partners with the Municipality of Pictou County Summer Recreation and Lismore Hall to bring youthLEADarts to their community, two hours outside of Halifax.
Youth of all ages and abilities attend a summer recreation program Monday to Friday from 9am to 2 pm. It provides a place for youth to gain experience and make friends. Danielle Maceachern, for example, who is starting teachers college in the fall, attended the camp, volunteered and now runs the recreation program for Lismore Hall, in fact, she ran it all through Covid and has been running it for several years.
“This summer’s program is bringing the community together. It welcomes Lismore’s youth back to the hall after Covid. It reminds them that the hall is their space too and that they matter. It creates a space for young people to connect, to create and to socialize, to develop programs that serve their needs, to be a place where they can play, grow and build relationships. There is a strong sense of volunteerism in this community, by bringing in art, it creates a level of engagement, a link that was missing for many. Art gives kids the opportunity to express their emotions, and they needed that outlet,” Shelley notes.
Each week has a theme. During Nature Week, youth participated in a scavenger hunt that engaged all of their senses, recording sounds and taking photos and videos in the surrounding area. Lismore Lumber donated wood that came from local forests, milled primed it, and cut it into 4 by 6 pieces to paint on. Campers captured the whimsy of the surrounding forests. They collected flat stones native to Lismore Beach and decorated them, placing them in the community garden. The message, we are community. We are connected to each other and our surroundings. What we do impacts others. Let us celebrate us and this place.
All of this in an atmosphere of fun, friendship, play. All of this in the spirit of ‘camp’ a place where memories are made and last forever.