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ISSUE 3: APRIL 1, 2021
As a past Participant and/or Facilitator, you are receiving this newsletter created specifically for our CYL Alumni! We hope that you will enjoy it, and future editions, but please feel free to unsubscribe using the link at the end of the newsletter if you do not want to recieve these emails moving forward. 


It is hard to believe sometimes that we made it to spring. We have turned the clocks back, we can hear the birds, the temperature is starting to climb, and once again it is time to think about all of the amazing things summer has to offer. Imagine when you can finally put away your coat and boots and grab a pair of your favourite flip flops for your walk! 

While we are very lucky to live in Canada where we can enjoy all seasons, there is something special about spring. Everything comes alive and starts to grow, hope is in the air and we all look forward to outdoor barbeques, swimming and enjoying the outdoors. 

In the meantime, while we still battle bouts of cold weather, we hope you enjoy this edition of the Alumni newlsetter! We wish you and your loved ones a very safe and healthy spring season. 


Check out these cool little facts about some Easter traditions you may not know!
The Easter Egg...
The tradition of decorating eggs of all kinds—even ostrich eggs—may go all the way back to the ancient pagans. It’s easy to see why eggs represent rebirth and life, so associating them with spring and new growth isn’t much of a stretch. To celebrate the new season, it’s said that people colored eggs and gave them to friends and family as gifts. Many cultures share the tradition of Easter eggs.  The egg is actually an ancient expressions of
fertility. And the idea of an Easter egg hunt actually celebrates a return to the fertile season – Spring – when flowers are blooming, babies are being born, eggs are being laid, and the land once again becoming fertile.
Hot Cross buns...
A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun usually made with fruit, marked with a cross on the top, and traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and even some parts of Canada and the U.S. The bun marks the end of Lent and different parts of the hot
cross bun have a certain meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial.
The Easter Parade....
There’s an old superstition that wearing new clothes on Easter means good luck for the rest of the year. You could say it has something to do with rebirth and renewal, but mostly, it sounds like an excuse to go shopping! Either way, fancy new finery deserves to be seen for more than 60 minutes during Easter services,
so in the mid-1800s, parishioners in New York held a little post-church fashion show as they left their Fifth Avenue churches. The tradition continues today!
The Hollow Chocolate Easter Bunny...
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine what a giant rabbit has to do with any type of religious holiday. But according to Time, the tradition dates back to the pagans. They celebrated a goddess of fertility named Eostre—and you may recall that fertility is exactly the trait rabbits are most famous for. It’s thought that German
immigrants brought their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" to the U.S. in the 1700s. Now we know why Easter is associated with rabbits! But why are so many of them hollow inside? As it turns out, it’s not just to get kids used to disappointment at a young age… According to the R.M. Palmer company, one of the oldest makers of chocolate bunnies in the U.S., the empty insides are really just in consideration of your teeth. "If you had a larger-size bunny and it was solid chocolate, it would be like a brick; you’d be breaking teeth," Mark Schlott, executive vice-president of operations, told the Smithsonian. Of course, there’s also the "wow" factor—confectioners can make a larger, more impressive-looking bunny for a reasonable price if there’s nothing inside of it.


Registration is Open
We know that there are going to be a lot of questions about how CYL will look this year, and while we don’t have all the answers yet, we are moving forward with our plans to hold an on-site overnight camp. CYL will follow the recommendations provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health regarding opening of overnight camps and the health guidelines needed to ensure the safety of our participants, facilitators and staff.

Registration is open and encourage you to register as soon as possible. Due to the pandemic, we will be limiting the number of participants and facilitators this summer, so please visit our website 
to register.
Name the Alumni Newsletter Contest
We started the Alumni newsletter in the fall of 2020 and it doesn’t yet have a name, so we are launching a campaign in April to “name the newsletter”! Look for postings on the CYL Alumni Facebook group and your suggestion could be the winner…

Launch date:  April 19, 2021 (to run for 2 weeks)
How to Enter: Post your suggestion on the Alumni Facebook Group page 
Final Selection:  All suggestions will be voted on and narrowed down to the top
three, at which point we will vote again to determine our winner.
The winner of the campaign will receive a $100 gift certificate of their choice! 


Sarah Jensen, Past Participant and Faciliator
Sarah Jensen attended the senior year of CYL as a participant in 2016 and facilitated for the last four years. Sarah has been working as the CYL Youth Co-ordinator at OCA for the last two years and has been instrumental in updating the curriculum, working with other facilitators and promoting CYL on our social media platforms. 

Sarah was first introduced to CYL when the housing co-op she lives in was looking for a participant to sponsor. After reading about the program in their co-op's newsletter, she immediately applied to attend. Sarah says “I was so excited for the opportunity to learn more about co-operatives and meet other youth from co-ops across the province. I remember my first impression was that I would be going to a business camp, so I had to be professional and represent my co-operative well. I'm so glad I didn't pack the blazer suit I'd intended to bring for camp! CYL is so much more than the professional development experience I was expecting, and I couldn't have been happier to have my expectations so thoroughly upended by the program.”

At CYL, participants are asked to find common ground with their peers, agree to accept others for who they are, what they have to offer and work in a non-judgemental and safe space.  Achieving this goal allows participants to build their self-confidence and know that they are valued; it changes how they see and accept other participants and leaders.
We asked Sarah to tell us about her favourite memories of CYL.  Here is what she had to say...

The laughter, the people, and so many memories that I cherish so deeply.

CYL was the first time I experienced a sense of instant connection with other teens - I had a few very close friends, but I thought that close friendships like that were built on years of shared experiences. Yet here I was, a participant at a summer camp, 1300km away from home, feeling as deeply connected to my new found CYL camp friends just a few days after arriving as I felt connected to my housing co-op family and my best friends back home.

I have so many great CYL memories, especially memories of laughing so hard my face hurt from smiling so hard and for so long. I can think of so many moments that fill me with absolute pure joy to recollect. I am so grateful for all the friends I made that first week as a participant at camp - people I still cheer on in their own endeavors, even if we don’t talk as much as we used to. And I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made since with my co-facilitators and co-workers at CYL - we’ve gotten through some challenges and seen the best days and never failed to make each other laugh with lifelong memories along the way.

I think more than anything, CYL makes us better human beings. All these skills (leadership, teamwork, communication) are integral to being a good person and having a positive impact on the world - but I think even more than that, the co-operative principles, values, and the idea of co-operation itself which underwrites all of the CYL programming, gets at the idea that co-operation is a fundamental part of our humanity. Humans are social at our core - it makes sense that on a fundamental level we look to co-operate, collaborate, and build community and that by doing these things, we are better able to achieve our goals and feel fulfilled in our lives than we would be through competition. Teaching co-operation as a modus operandi I think is somewhat revolutionary in a society that emphasizes the importance of competition - I think that we are healthier and happier personally on an individual level and stronger, more empowered as a community, when we view the world through a lens of co-operation, not competition, and that is something I think CYL does a fantastic job of teaching its participants.

Like many other participants who attend CYL, Sarah strengthened her leadership, communication and team building skills. Read more about Sarah’s experience...
When I arrived at CYL as a participant I was a shy kid who had a hard time connecting with peers, especially peers my own age. Building communication skills and learning how to communicate my authentic self while listening to others and encouraging them to do the same thing, was something that changed my life in that first week at CYL. Becoming a facilitator only built on and reinforced the communication skills I'd learned as a camper: I learned how to be a better public speaker, how to communicate effectively on an interpersonal level, how to manage conflict, and ensure effective communication between co-facilitators and our participants.

CYL is also the place that introduced me to the idea that anyone can be a leader - that in fact, everyone is a leader; we all lead with our actions all the time, whether or not we realize it, and by harnessing that power, empowering each other, and working together, we can use that leadership for good. It was the first time in my life that I thought of leadership not as a singular act done by one person leading the rest, but as a reciprocal act that we all do together. By strengthening others' leadership skills, we strengthen our own. By allowing others to lead, we become stronger leaders ourselves, and we can learn from everyone - often the people we are leading are the people who in turn are leading us. This co-operative approach to leadership is what separates "leaders" from "bosses" in my mind, and absolutely strengthens my own approach to leadership in everything that I do. 

I think the biggest take-away from CYL is that there is the opportunity to build community through co-operation in everything we do - and that this is what it means to be a team. We can create deep, human connection with others in everything we do, and this opportunity not only makes our work - even the most mundane - more enjoyable, but it also empowers us and makes us stronger, together. CYL shifted my mindset away from competition - I no longer look at conflict with others as an obstacle to remove, but as an opportunity to connect and grow together.

Would you recommend the CYL program to other youth?
I would recommend CYL because it is such a dynamic program. It has something for every teenager, and I’ve seen it build the strongest leaders out of the most “unlikely” of candidates. I would tell a teenager that if they don’t think this camp is for them - that they’re not a leader, that they don’t think learning about co-operative business is fun - that CYL is exactly where they should be. They just might find out how incredible of a leader they are, and find lifelong connections and a sense of belonging they haven’t experienced before. Not to mention that CYL never fails to be a week full of fun, laughter, friendship and lifelong memories!

My experience at CYL skyrocketed my involvement in the sector. When I returned from CYL, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with a local co-operator at the OCA, to talk about my experience at local high schools and attend career and business fares to talk about the co-operative model. This experience gave me the confidence to apply for the national and international co-op involvement opportunities like those that I am currently involved with: CHF Canada’s Ontario Council, Canada's Emerging Co-operators, and most recently, the International Cooperative Alliance's 25 Voices under 25 project. Perhaps most significantly, CYL influenced me to change my intended career path. I was sitting at CYL as a facilitator when I changed my intended major from biology to pre-law, the summer before I started my first year of my undergrad degree. I had an epiphany that I wanted to make the world a better place through advocacy and human rights work, and through working in the co-operative sector for the rest of my life. I hope that my work in the sector will inspire others to look for opportunities to spread kindness, create community, and be co-operative in whatever they do.
Tell us about any lifelong connections or new friends you made while at CYL?
Absolutely everyone I’ve met through the CYL program has had a huge impact on me. From my fellow participants when I was a camper, to my fellow facilitators over the last few years. I’ve learned so much from each of them, and even if we don’t still talk regularly I’m still cheering them on from the sidelines. The laughter shared, the (sometimes crazy) memories we’ve made, the challenges we overcame and the way we grew together are things I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

On days when I doubt myself, I still go back and re-read the past few years’ worth of "warm fuzzies" - the letters we write to each other to take home that highlight our favourite memories and qualities we see in everyone from that week at camp. This reminds me that even when I cannot see my own light, others can. I hope my words in those letters have helped others in similar ways - there’s nothing I want more than for my fellow CYLers to find fulfillment and become the incredible leaders they can be.
How did CYL prepare you for life after you graduated high school?
CYL was fantastic preparation for life after high school. I learned so many transferrable skills (in addition to the aforementioned teamwork, leadership, and communication skills) that I didn't even realize I was learning. Skills that I honed at CYL such as public speaking and effective presentation, project planning, division of labour, business planning and budgeting, etc. really helped me in my university studies and in job application/subsequent jobs.

CYL definitely helped me understand myself and what I wanted to do with my life. It gave me an in-depth crash course on how wonderful it is to work with others in co-operation towards a better future. The CYL experience put me on my career path and helped me choose my major.
What was your overall experience at CYL like?
Perhaps it's cliché to say this (and this is definitely a quote), but to me, CYL doesn't just stand for “Co-operative Young Leaders,” it also stands for Changing Young Lives. That is exactly what it did for me – it changed my life, and continues to change my life to this day. The weeks I’ve spent at CYL have been some of the most mind-blowing, challenging (in the best ways), and personal-growth-inducing, laughter-creating, memory-making, awe-inspiring, FUN weeks of my life.


Carol Fleming, CYL Director (2019 - present)
It has been one of the great joys of my life to be a facilitator at CYL for the last 15 years, and now the Director of the CYL program. My path to CYL was a “road less travelled” for sure. It was something I never anticipated doing as my feet were firmly planted in the world of credit and financial counselling for adults. What I was about to find out is how working with youth and other facilitators from the co-operative sector would provide me with the skills I needed to help youth members at our credit union, and focus on the larger co-operative sector.

As I look back on my co-operative journey I know that working in the co-operative sector was something I was meant to do. I started my career in the financial world at a bank, and after a couple of years moved to work at a credit union, and the difference was very noticeable. The credit union way was definitely a kinder, gentler world that really focused on the helping members achieve their life goals. 

My first introduction to the larger co-operative sector came when I began my journey at CYL. Although I had spent many years working for credit unions, the provincial central and the credit union MasterCard Company, I was never really exposed to non-financial co-operatives.  

CYL helped me understand co-operatives from a big picture perspective. The co-operative business model, the numerous types of co-operatives and how they really do live by the principles they take such pride in, this was the beginning of my journey to a greater understanding and appreciation for the sector as a whole. 

We talk often about co-operation and what it really means both inside and outside of our sector. While all the world is struggling with the pandemic, we have seen some amazing examples of co-operation and all the benefits we get from working together. The examples of food banks, fund raising to support families in need, small businesses reinventing themselves to stay relevant and helping their community, and co-operatives reaching out to their members and employee in support and encouragement. All of the ways we have demonstrated and co-operated gives us hope for the future of our sector and humanity.

It is my hope to see you at CYL soon. It is time to share all of your experience, passion and “pranks” with a new generation of co-operative youth participants!  

Yes, CYL really did “change my life,” and how lucky I feel to be leading a program that brought so much joy and positivity to my life.


Check out this link to see who you know from these pictures and send them a message on our FaceBook alumni group!

Register for the CYL Alumni Group!

You can formally register to be a part of the CYL Alumni group here! By creating an Alumni group, we hope we can help you reconnect with old friends, make new friends and remember what made CYL so special. Your experiences are the same from many perspectives, but your journey to CYL, and after, may be very different. We can’t wait to see how this group grows and develops with your involvement!

Follow Us on Social Media!

Follow us for more camp memories, CYL updates and more fun information you don’t want to miss by clicking the buttons below! You can also follow us on TikTok, by searching for @cooperativeyoungleaders
For all your program inquiries, contact:
Tel: 519-763-8271 ext. 25

A donation to the Bernie Daly Memorial Fund, or the Dorothy Watson CYL Bursary can go a long way in helping send a youth to CYL who  may not otherwise have the means to go. Or, you can make a direct donation to CYL as well. Please consider supporting one of these initiatives, and give a kid the summer camp experience of a lifetime! 
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