As a guest at Muskoka Woods, Emily Thompson couldn’t wait for the day that she would become a staff member — specifically a camp counsellor. After spending a month at Muskoka Woods for the CEO program and having the opportunity to work in different areas around camp (counselling, instructing, hospitality), she knew without a doubt that she wanted to spend the rest of her summers up at camp (for as long as she could, anyway). Today, Emily works as a nurse in the emergency department at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, but the experience she gained from working at Muskoka Woods has translated to her current job in countless ways.
Previous roles: HCC Crew, CEO Counsellor, JH/Venture Counsellor, Gymnastics Instructor & Volunteer
Years attended as a guest: 10
Fun fact: Emily’s mom also spent about five years working on staff at Muskoka Woods in the 1980s. To this day, she often talks about the lifetime of memories and friends she made working at Muskoka Woods.
What was the best part about working/volunteering at Muskoka Woods?
It’s hard to choose! My goodness, there are so many. I love the way Muskoka Woods really “pours” into the lives of their staff, supporting and encouraging them so they can then do the same for the guests that come each week. Through teaching, mentorship, Bible studies, soul house and prayer, I always felt so encouraged and equipped to do my job well. Another incredible part about camp are the friendships you make with other staff. I cherish the friendships I have made at camp, they are unlike any other! The community that is cultivated at camp is amazing, and truly one-of-a kind. It has also been incredible to experience how guests’ lives are changed through camp. Over the years, I have seen and heard of the impact Muskoka Woods has and continues to have on guests and staff.
What are some of your favourite Muskoka Woods memories?
There are countless memories! Many of my favourite memories were from simply time spent with other staff or guests, and the fun we had together:
- Campfire songs and skits (as a guest and counsellor)
- Trying out the different skills/activities
- Sitting by the lake having one-to-ones
- Algonquin out-trip hearing the CEOs share their testimonies
- CEO girls/guys night
- New Orleans with the CEOs (serving together, the incredible community that was created)
- Cabin chats before bed (Venture, Junior High and CEO), questions and conversations about faith and who God is
- Evening programs with kids
- When a Venture guest got the whole cabin to pray before bed (on her own)
- Seeing guests grow in their confidence
- Thrill of winning “cabin of the week”
- Swimming/hanging out on the docs with staff in the afternoons
How has Muskoka Woods made a difference in your life?
Muskoka Woods has played a huge role in shaping who I am today. I have grown in my faith, leadership and confidence at camp. I have been stretched and challenged in the best ways, and have been deeply encouraged from the time I have spent at Muskoka Woods. I have learned the importance of a good community in my faith walk, and have worked to cultivate this in my life at home.
What will you miss the most about summers at Muskoka Woods?
I will miss being a part of the community that is cultivated each summer at camp and seeing kids running around Muskoka Woods having the time of their lives. I hope to be back again this summer to volunteer if I am able. Muskoka Woods has had a profound impact on me, and I have been so blessed to have been a part of the incredible camp ministry!
Jamie Hunter is a freelance content specialist living in Dundas, Ont. with his wife, 10-year-old daughter and six-year-old son. Over the past 15+ years, he has contributed to a variety of national lifestyle and entertainment print publications and worked in corporate communications roles at Harbourfront Centre and the University of Toronto. A self-described amateur entomologist, wannabe ornithologist, and fair-weather angler, on weekends he can be found covered in dirt tending to his gardens.