With nicer weather right around the corner, kids and parents alike are thinking of warmer days, spring and summer activities and camps. Parents who are looking for quality, year-round sport-themed camp experiences for their children in the Durham Region need to look no further. True North Sports Camps, Toronto’s “go-to” sporting camps, featuring a variety of programs for kids, are now available to Durham children and youth.
Beginning as a local baseball camp, True North Sports Camp’s programs have grown and become a staple throughout the GTA. True North offers a variety of sporting programs for boys and girls ages four to 14 in Toronto, Etobicoke, Hamilton, and now in Markham and Whitby. True North offers summer, after-school and weekend programs, including: baseball, flag football, basketball, soccer and multi-sport.
We recently sat down with True North co-founder, Gabe Diamond, and found out more about this successful camp and what it can offer to families living in the Durham Region.
Greg Schryer: How did True North Sports Camps come to be?
Gabe Diamond: True North Sports Camps launched in 2007 by myself and four friends while we were in university. Having coached competitive youth baseball for several summers, we decided to start our own local baseball camp. It was originally known as North Toronto Baseball Camp. We started it in order to give back to the community and to continue doing what we love in teaching young athletes the game of baseball. After our first year, we quickly earned the reputation as Toronto’s “go-to” source for baseball day camps.
In 2016, we expanded to form True North Sports Camps (TNSC), offering additional sports like basketball, flag football, soccer and multi-sport. Based on the overwhelming response from our families in the GTA, we decided to launch new locations in Etobicoke and Hamilton in 2017. This year, we have expanded to Whitby and Markham.
Greg Schryer: What benefit do kids receive from your sports classes?
Gabe Diamond: Through our classes, kids get an amazing opportunity to develop their athletic skills, to remain active and outdoors, and to learn valuable life lessons including sportsmanship and teamwork. We divide campers into skill groups based on age and ability, and throughout the week they participate in drills, games and fun competitions. We provide a lot of giveaways and prizes. We also make sure that each camper receives individual attention and is given an individual scouting report (similar to a report card) at the end of their session.
Greg Schryer: Tell me about the camp trainers and leaders. What do you look for in a leader?
Gabe Diamond: We’re known for our incredible staff, which starts with our hiring. From Camp Directors to Coaches in Training, we spend a tremendous amount of energy ensuring we get the best possible candidates for every position. Our application process includes submission of a resume and cover letter, first and second round interviews, and a practical assessment where candidates have to run programs alongside Camp Directors. It’s quite a lengthy process for this type of position which you don’t usually see for day camps.
In terms of what we look for in our leaders, playing and coaching experience is definitely important. Most importantly, however, our coaches must be able to teach their sport and create a positive environment for our campers. We are not simply looking for former athletes. Once hired, we have an overnight Leadership Team training weekend, as well as a Staff Training weekend where we go over camp protocols, values, and emergency situations, etc. Last year we created a new role in our organization which has significantly improved our program, and that is a Director of Staff Development. This position ensures that we provide continual feedback to our over 100 staff members, allowing them to develop both professionally and personally.
Greg Schryer: Do you see campers return to the program? Do you follow their progress?
Gabe Diamond: We are very fortunate to have wonderful, loyal families. Although our summer camp programs are one-week sessions, our campers often sign up again for several weeks later on in the summer. This allows our staff to follow their progress, which is reflected on their weekly Scouting Reports. We also have a number of staff members who started off as campers, completed our Counselor-in-Training program, and are now coaches throughout the summer, which is really wonderful to see.
Greg Schryer: Why should I send my child to True North Sports Camps?
Gabe Diamond: Great question! There are lots of options, but families should consider sending their kids to True North for three main reasons:
a) We have something for everyone, including baseball, soccer, basketball, flag football and multi-sport.
b) We’ve created the perfect balance between advanced skill instruction and having fun. For example, we have created “Themed Fridays” such as Jersey Day and Superhero Day.
c) Our staff. As I mentioned earlier, we invest a significant amount of time ensuring our staff are well-trained and are given the resources they need to succeed. They, in turn, help our campers to be successful.
Above all, we truly believe sports are an important part of every child’s development and we make it our top priority to deliver a truly memorable experience.
For more information, visit www.truenorthcamps.com