Monday, 21 August 2017

Upcoming October Holiday Camps

Summer is here and we're super excited! We've opened one holiday week for the upcoming October holidays and we're about to turn things upside down! 
Upside-Down week: 1-8 October
Get ready to take a look at the world from a whole other perspective! Come join the madness as we switch up and turn things upside-down at Sugar Bay! 
  • Stunts & Skits Show Night (Instead of Skits & Stunts)
  • Evening Programs held in the Morning
  • Lunch for Dinner
  • Wear your Clothes Inside-Out all week
  • Inverted Party Night (Thursday instead of Friday)
  • Excursion to Jump for Joy - Indoor Trampoline Arena
Become a subscriber to our Sugar Bay YouTube Channel and check out our Holiday Camp Highlights to get you excited for this camp.

Camp Counselors - Where are they now?

We caught up with one of Sugar Bay’s very first counselors, “Hoova”, formally known as Baden Dowie. Hoover was with us for seven years and helped turn the Sugar Bay dream, into a reality. This fun and fantastic counselor is now happily married for seven years to Catherine Dowie, and they are parents to three children; Jack (4), Mackenzie (2) and Ewan (6 months). 
Q & A with Hoova – Baden Dowie

1. How did your journey at camp begin?

I arrived at Nic and Zoe’s home one rainy Sunday morning in March 2001. I turned up with a backpack, guitar and in an insecure, playful, bold and nervous twenty-year-old body. However, so excited to be part of building South Africa's first American styled children's holiday camp. Sugar Bay was just a construction site when I arrived; there was only an empty hall, steal frame structures, no pool, no grass on the sports field and no cabins either. I was privileged to have seen camp in its early stage. I worked at camp full time from March 2001 to September 2002. Thereafter, whilst I was pursuing my studies, I kept returning to camp for every holiday until 2007.”

2. What was the best part of the job for you?

The growth in confidence I gained in myself because of working so close with Nic and Zoe, witnessing their vision become a reality. Their faith, determination and “anything is possible attitude” was amazing. While working with Nic, I supervised the physical structural development of camp. While working with Zoe, we would design the programs camp would offer. I learnt so much in such a short period of time. The other best part of the job was learning how to surf.”

3. How did you get your nickname?

Nicknames weren't even a thing is those early days. I chose “Hooverand spelt it with an "a" – “Hoova”, because it complimented my massive appetite. I just couldn't get enough; I didn't eat like a pig, I just ate a lot.”

4. Who was your favourite fellow counselor, and why?

Bear, formally known as Elan Stark. Elan and I were friends who had worked at a camp called Happy Acres in Johannesburg during our high school years, so, we had some history. We were very similar; loud, energized, resourceful, innovative and a little competitive too. We break-danced together, spun poi, grabbed 6am surfs together and always had another song to sing. Bear and Hoova had great chemistry.”

5. What do you miss the most about camp?
So many awesome moments, such as...
Teaching break-dancing at the pool, break-dancing on party night with Bear, all camp relay, camp fires, random songs sung in the dinning hall, skits and stunts, capture the flag and life guard training. But, most of all; standing on that stool, calling out "Hi, my name is HOOOOVA" at that first camp in 2001."

6. Do you miss working at Sugar Bay as a camp counselor?

Yes and no. Yes, because camp was this world within a world, an oasis, where I could, without knowing, naturally, effortlessly just be myself and inspire young kids to try an activity they never would have dreamed of doing. And no, because everything has a season, for me, being a camp counselor was awesome for a time even though I wanted it to last forever. I also wanted my own home, I wanted to get married and start a family. And, for that to happen, I knew I would need to leave camp some day.”

7. What are you currently doing with your life now (in terms of your career)?

Since camp I studied Education and got my Bachelor in Education degree, I taught Design Tech for 8 years and now I consult to schools on Maker Space installations (Workshop Labs).”

8. Has being a camp counselor in anyway added or benefited your current
career position?

Absolutely, camp teaches one to be resourceful. For example, you have a group of children and there is 20 minutes to go till the next activity; what do you do? You do something! Be it a song, hacky sack games, tag game...something! You just do something with those little guys. Kids follow energy and passion. As a design Tech teacher, being resourceful really helps a lot.”

9. What was your most embarrassing moment at camp?
There were three actually;
  • Getting the Land Rover seriously stuck (right rear wheel was completely off the ground and in the air) cause I rammed the front left wheel into the electrical and water trench between the guard house and main parking.”

  • Snapping Nic and Zoe's a long board. After repair it was retired to hang up in the dinning hall for a while.”

  • Getting 5 stitches in my fore-head showing the kids what NOT to do in the pool. I dived in. That was really silly.”
10. What’s your motivation to the current and future camp counselors?

To the current and future counselors know that there is no “Counselor Mould” that you need to squeeze into, or a one size fits all style of counseling. However, there is a “Your Style” of counseling that you grow into, a unique way that is your way, your approach that connects and engages to a specific group of campers so brilliantly. Lastly, with everything you do, maintain and uphold the image and reputation you cast for your campers and team.” 
It was certainly wonderful catching up with our Hoova after all these years. We would love to catch up with all our past counselors and see where you guys are now. If you would like to be featured, send an email to

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Why I believe in camp, and you should too

Having turned the dream of creating a ‘children’s paradise’ into a successfully running business, Sugar Bay’s Founding Director, ZoĆ« Ellender, shares why the benefits of American summer camps inspired her to start her very own camp in South Africa.

“As a child, I was given a lot of opportunities to go on holiday which didn’t require spending a lot of money. We would go to our grandparents on a little farm in the Free State, in Clocolan, which is along the Lesotho border. I would be surrounded by my older cousins who were great role models and we would be busy from sunrise to sunset; climbing mountains, building forts, jumping off cliffs and just going on escapades. When I began soul searching after realizing I was unhappy in my legal career, I cast my thoughts back to these moments in my life when I was happiest. I began recapturing my youth and parts of these holiday experiences. This is how my love for camp began, in a healthy environment, without any distractions, just full of fun,” Ellender shared. 

Ellender was inspired by the concept of a children’s summer camp after reading the American Camping Association (ACA) logo, “Camp gives kids a world of good”. This is what prompted her to begin a holiday destination exclusively for children.

“Summer camps have become a tradition in America and are extremely popular. It’s not a matter of ‘Are you going to summer camp?’, but rather ‘Which summer camp are you going to?’ I wanted to bring this caliber of camping to South Africa, to create a tradition and make summer camp a way of life,” she said.

“South Africa has a very limited knowledge of camp and the usual veldt school camps are common in the country. I dislike the fact that these camps have the ‘compulsory’ aspect in their activities, and therefore I offer free choice at my summer camp,” she added.

Ellender was convinced about the benefits of camp while doing market research and interviewing a host of summer camp counselors in South Africa who had worked at camps in the United States.

“After speaking to them and hearing them explain the benefits of camp, I was convinced that starting a summer camp was the best idea I could have ever had. The counselors inspire me to believe in camp because of their energy; they are such cool people. It’s amazing to see that they make such a huge impact on the kids, that the kids will follow them to the ends of the world. They also have an incredible ability to create fun out of anything”, said Ellender.

When asked, “How do you to continue to believe in your summer camp? she responded;
“Seeing the difference it makes to kids and their lives. They keep coming back to camp to escape the stresses of the outside world and reap the benefits of camp. The kids keep growing in confidence as a result of their camping experience. It’s great to see kids having fun without technology, keeping in mind how much time they spend engrossed in social media these days.”

Ellender expanded on some of the benefits she has witnessed at Sugar Bay, which maintain her confidence in this business,

“I believe in camp, because I believe it’s really important to get kids out of their comfort zones, and out on their own every now and then. This really helps them to make decisions by themselves and to be able to establish new friendships independently. It’s good for kids to do these things without parental support and without the distraction caused by their screens. I believe that camp is a fundamental building block for children. Kids don’t get to form relationships at school in a healthy way. However, at camp, there are specially trained counselors to guide them. As a mother of three kids, at three different ages, I definitely see the importance of this guidance offered at camp, whereas at school, kids are left to fend for themselves.”

Ellender encourages parents who doubt her testimony, to ask other parents who have sent their kids to a camp like Sugar Bay. She says, “Don’t take my word for it. Ask any child or parent who has ever come to Sugar Bay.” Her words are evidently true, judging by the hundreds of five star reviews which flood their Facebook page with praises from both children and parents alike.

For more information, visit our website and book online now

Camp - an antidote to social stresses at school

Just as how a normal day in the office can easily turn into a stressful one, what you may refer to as a normal day at school for your kids can be just as stressful. 
Take a look at these examples of stress our kids are faced with at school and see the reasons why camp is the perfect antidote to social stresses at school. 
Social Standing 
Children are expected to maintain a certain image at school in order to secure a reputation. Social standing at school divides kids. Kids who dress well are admired as the “Trendsetters”, kids who excel at sports are the “Jocks”, kids who are great at socializing and have a multitude of friends are the “Popular kids” and intellectual kids are known as the “Nerds”. If your kids don’t fit into any one of these categories at school, they’re usually the “Outcasts”. This is why our children are always trying so hard to fit in, which can be very stressful as not all of us are fashion forward, good at sport, great at interacting with others, or above average in academics. 

Summer camps give kids the opportunity to project their true selves without any restrictions. This forces kids to leave behind whatever reputation they had to uphold anywhere outside of camp and reinvent themselves. In an environment like this, where kids get to be themselves and live in a judgment-free zone, all kids fit in. The stress to be “part of the squad” does not exist. 
Peer Pressure 
Children at school are pressurized to do what their friends think is “cool”, which are usually childish and petty things that we as parents would certainly frown upon. For example, when your child becomes friends with a student who isn’t “popular”, they are judged and expected to abandon them in order to fit in. This is peer pressure. They could really enjoy someone’s company but will be expected not to associate with them regardless. Choosing friends can be very stressful in such a pressurizing society. 

Peer pressure at summer camps is regarded as “bullying” and isn’t tolerated. Everyone is friends with one another and form one, big happy family at camp. Campers aren’t forced to, nor, are they restricted to befriend anyone. Both campers and counselors are constantly focused on having fun whilst building each other up and have no opportunity to indulge in this demeaning act. 
Precocious Behavior

When a child behaves in a way that is advanced for their age, this is regarded as precocious behavior. Smoking, involvement in intimate relationships, alcohol and illegal substance abuse at a tender age is the perfect example of this. These examples are common stresses kids are facing at school, and the easy access kids have to technology could be one of its greatest influences. 

Camp counselors play an integral role in assisting kids to refrain from precocious behavior at camp. They predominantly work on showing kids that they can have fun and embrace their youth without smoking, consuming alcohol, indulging in illegal substances, being in a relationship or influenced by the media. This is why most camps promote their technology-free movement, which doesn’t allow campers to have their mobile phones or internet access at hand. Counselors are always channeling their inner child at camp, which encourages kids to be kids at camp. 
The summer camp opportunity is the ideal break away from the social standing, peer pressure and precocious behavior stress that the schooling environment can have upon your kids. Pack your kids bags this end-of-term break and send them to camp, which is certainly the ideal antidote to school social stress. 

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