41 min

6. Community, Fun, and Learning to Do Hard Stuff: Summer Camp Round Table with Julia Smith, Erin Wicker, Caitlin Dooley and Lisa Rae The DECODE Project Podcast

    • Self-Improvement

In this episode, you get a window into my teen years when I worked as a staff at Christie Lake Camp, an overnight summer camp run by Christie Lake Kids, for campers living below the poverty line. 

Today, you'll hear me speak with four of my camp friends, Cait Dooley, Lisa Rae, Erin Wicker, and Julia Smith.

We talk about 


How our camp director, the late Dr. Dan Offord, cultivated a community where campers and staff thrived despite difficult circumstances


How we were willing and eager to wake up early every day and do hard work because we knew we were part of something that mattered


How being given lots of responsibility and having incredible role models in the older staff profoundly shaped our self-view and our chosen work


And how camp and everything it stood for provided us with an anchor through the rocky teen years.   



A Glance at the Episode

>>>3:01: Powerful memories of our camp director, Dr. Dan, and the lessons we learned from him (the importance of curiosity, seeing the campers and staff as whole people, actively seeking out the people who need help but are not coming to the door, being fully present, and being part of the team)

>>>8:01: How fun, the community, and a common purpose motivated us to do really hard work 

>>>12:37: How Christie Lake provided an environment for campers and staff to thrive (structure, scheduling low ration of campers-to-staff, the near-peer influence, developing skills through extracurriculars, rituals, routine, and the music)

>>>15:58: How camp taught us we were capable of doing hard things and how this has shaped how we perceive ourselves now; the importance of role models

>>>21:34: How camp provided us with a north star and a safety card to help us navigate through the difficult teen years

>>>21:34: Our recent camp reunion during the pandemic and how camp and the community still have such a huge impact on us 



Bios and Links:

Christie Lake Camp/Christie Lake Kids: Website//Facebook//Instagram

Caitlin Dooley: Cait has just returned to Canada after living in NYC for 10 years. Her career has taken a few twists and turns and she loves where she has ended up-as a fundraiser for nonprofits. Her career and life path was profoundly shaped by the summers she spent as a teenager at Christie Lake Camp.  She currently works at the Eagle Academy Foundation, a network of schools that incorporates many of the programming and approaches that we used at camp. LinkedIn//Eagle Academy Foundation

Erin Wicker: Erin is a mama to two little bears, Liam and Tommy. She has been teaching for 15 years. She has taught in Japan and the United Arab Emirates. She has the travel bug and has had the fortune of visiting over 50 countries. Her favourite memories include trying to climb solo up Mountt Fuji in a fog storm, starting an impromptu dance-off at the biggest sand dune in the Gulf region, and following a wild boar though the rainforest in Costa Rica. 

Julia Smith: Mother of 3. Occupational therapist in community mental health at Northumberland hills hospital in Cobourg.  Loves to cook.  Reads cool books for pleasure.  

Lisa Rae: Lisa Rae has worked in public policy, strategy, advocacy, and stakeholder engagement for more than 15 years.  She is know for her curiosity, pragmatism, and collaborative leadership style.  Currently, Lisa is the Director of Public Affairs at Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) overseeing strategic communications, government relations, and public policy.  She lives in Toronto with her partner and 3 year old son who rivals her, as only preschooler can, in asking "why?".



About The DECODE Project Podcast

In the DECODE Project Podcast, sleep physician and youth psychiatrist Dr. Cara Ooi speaks to parents, youth, and other experts about what really moves the dial on change during the tricky teen years.  Learn more about the DECODE Project and resources by visiting decodeinsomnia.com or on Instagram @decodeinsomnia. 

Music by

In this episode, you get a window into my teen years when I worked as a staff at Christie Lake Camp, an overnight summer camp run by Christie Lake Kids, for campers living below the poverty line. 

Today, you'll hear me speak with four of my camp friends, Cait Dooley, Lisa Rae, Erin Wicker, and Julia Smith.

We talk about 


How our camp director, the late Dr. Dan Offord, cultivated a community where campers and staff thrived despite difficult circumstances


How we were willing and eager to wake up early every day and do hard work because we knew we were part of something that mattered


How being given lots of responsibility and having incredible role models in the older staff profoundly shaped our self-view and our chosen work


And how camp and everything it stood for provided us with an anchor through the rocky teen years.   



A Glance at the Episode

>>>3:01: Powerful memories of our camp director, Dr. Dan, and the lessons we learned from him (the importance of curiosity, seeing the campers and staff as whole people, actively seeking out the people who need help but are not coming to the door, being fully present, and being part of the team)

>>>8:01: How fun, the community, and a common purpose motivated us to do really hard work 

>>>12:37: How Christie Lake provided an environment for campers and staff to thrive (structure, scheduling low ration of campers-to-staff, the near-peer influence, developing skills through extracurriculars, rituals, routine, and the music)

>>>15:58: How camp taught us we were capable of doing hard things and how this has shaped how we perceive ourselves now; the importance of role models

>>>21:34: How camp provided us with a north star and a safety card to help us navigate through the difficult teen years

>>>21:34: Our recent camp reunion during the pandemic and how camp and the community still have such a huge impact on us 



Bios and Links:

Christie Lake Camp/Christie Lake Kids: Website//Facebook//Instagram

Caitlin Dooley: Cait has just returned to Canada after living in NYC for 10 years. Her career has taken a few twists and turns and she loves where she has ended up-as a fundraiser for nonprofits. Her career and life path was profoundly shaped by the summers she spent as a teenager at Christie Lake Camp.  She currently works at the Eagle Academy Foundation, a network of schools that incorporates many of the programming and approaches that we used at camp. LinkedIn//Eagle Academy Foundation

Erin Wicker: Erin is a mama to two little bears, Liam and Tommy. She has been teaching for 15 years. She has taught in Japan and the United Arab Emirates. She has the travel bug and has had the fortune of visiting over 50 countries. Her favourite memories include trying to climb solo up Mountt Fuji in a fog storm, starting an impromptu dance-off at the biggest sand dune in the Gulf region, and following a wild boar though the rainforest in Costa Rica. 

Julia Smith: Mother of 3. Occupational therapist in community mental health at Northumberland hills hospital in Cobourg.  Loves to cook.  Reads cool books for pleasure.  

Lisa Rae: Lisa Rae has worked in public policy, strategy, advocacy, and stakeholder engagement for more than 15 years.  She is know for her curiosity, pragmatism, and collaborative leadership style.  Currently, Lisa is the Director of Public Affairs at Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) overseeing strategic communications, government relations, and public policy.  She lives in Toronto with her partner and 3 year old son who rivals her, as only preschooler can, in asking "why?".



About The DECODE Project Podcast

In the DECODE Project Podcast, sleep physician and youth psychiatrist Dr. Cara Ooi speaks to parents, youth, and other experts about what really moves the dial on change during the tricky teen years.  Learn more about the DECODE Project and resources by visiting decodeinsomnia.com or on Instagram @decodeinsomnia. 

Music by

41 min