By Ryan Craig
Last Sunday was visitor’s day at Camp Northland, about 150 miles north of Toronto (240 Canadian kilometers), where my three boys are spending a month. It’s the camp I attended and my feeble attempt at providing them with a diverse summer experience i.e., hanging out with Canadians instead of Americans. Northland was founded in 1909 by the Toronto JCC. Camps this ancient have bizarrely intricate cultures; new campers are parachuted into an environment where every section and specialty has its own cheers and traditions, where we debate the relative merits of Ski Staff 2019 vs. the legendary Ski Staff of 1989, and where we fondly recall the memorable day Rachel, the Head of Swim who was afraid of Moose Lake (yes, the actual name of the lake), was chanted into the Lake by the entire camp (“Rachel in the Lake! Rachel in the Lake!”). At visitor’s day, we were regaled by stories of rafter ball, roasting (more like burning) marshmallows, and everyone’s favorite activity, Catch the Greasy Counselor: counselors cover themselves with cooking oil, campers try to grab them, and everyone ends up in the lake.
Parents like me send their kids summer camps like Northland for two reasons. They want to give their children a classic summer experience (probably the one they had themselves, even if not the Canadian idyll). And they want to give themselves a well-deserved break from their kids. Michael Horn and Bob Moesta, authors of the important upcoming book, Choosing College, would frame it differently. Choosing College analyzes why students enroll in college. To do so, Horn and Moesta employ the “Jobs to be Done” theory: people don’t buy products or services simply because they fall into a particular demographic category or for their own sake, but rather hireservices to get a job done in their lives so that they can make progress in a specific circumstance in their life.