At the beginning of the summer, it seemed that all summer programs would have to be cancelled. Fortunately, with Toronto’s movement to Stage 2, the provincial and municipal governments permitted youth summer camps as long as appropriate measures were taken.
Two different day camps were held in August: The Big Picture Seminar (BPS) for students entering Grades 9 and 10, from August 10-14, and Filling the Gaps (FTG) for students entering Grades 11 and 12, from August 17-21. Each program was designed to serve as an alternative to the classic overnight activities held in the past. Although the logistics of the activities changed, their essence remained the same: to foster the development of the whole person.
Both the BPS and FTG Day Camps had a similar daily schedule, including classes and talks in the morning, daily Mass, and fun activities and sports in the afternoon. The BPS had many guest speakers, including various residents of Ernescliff College. A surprising favourite turned out to be the Philosophy Seminar by Anderson, an international student resident. While most high school students would not be excited about philosophy, the ninth and tenth graders actively engaged in the activities Anderson had prepared. There were lively discussions about what makes an argument valid and/or sound and the young men were instructed to write syllogisms and share them with the class. The session was both educational and enjoyable for both the participants and the instructor.
Each of the camps had a special project, which the participants would work on throughout the week. The BPS special project was a talent show for the residents of Ernescliff. Every day, the young men were given time to prepare for the show. From the beginning, it was clear that they wanted to collaborate on one long skit. After four days of preparation, the result was a hilarious murder mystery skit, which the whole residence greatly enjoyed.
The FTG special project was focused on public speaking and discourse. On the first day, the participants attended a class on how to debate. Every day afterwards, the participants were given a chance to participate in a formal high school debate. The topics ranged greatly from the benefits and flaws of social media to the effectiveness of a Universal Basic Income. Throughout the week, there were workshops analyzing the speeches of public figures and opportunities for the students to speak in front of their peers.
On the Wednesday of each camp, there was a hiking excursion to Rouge Park in Scarborough. The chance to enjoy the outdoors in a national park was embraced by the young men, especially since most have been trapped at home for several months.
The One UP Fall Session will continue at the beginning of August. In-person activities for high-schoolers are set to resume at Ernescliff College on Saturdays. For more information, please contact Felipe at firstname.lastname@example.org.