Most of us can recall a certain teacher, coach or camp counsellor who had a significant impact on us as a child, whether for good or bad! As adults it is easy to forget the influence we have on children’s experience, including how they see themselves. Camp counsellors serve to guide and instruct, but perhaps most importantly, they are role models for campers and they are central to the experience your child will have at camp. All our counsellors are certified teachers. Every group of campers is led by a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Education and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers, and therefore is bound, by law, to look out for the safety of your child. We hire individuals who are experienced, energetic, creative and enthusiastic. We also employ positive and energetic assistant counsellors, who relate well to children and always work under the direct supervision of a counsellor. Our staff are First-Aid/CPR, AED, and Epipen trained, and all participate in an extensive staff orientation prior to working at 5-Star Camps.
Camp Owners and Directors
Sean Hopper, “Papa Bear” and Anita Hopper “ Neats” Director’s and Owners of 5 Star Camps. Sean has taught at Venta Preparatory School for over 30 years. He has his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Recreation Management with a minor in Psychology from Acadia University. He is currently the Director of Operations and Dean of Students at Venta and along with his wife Anita, they are also Sound Therapy Tomatis Consultants for the school.
Sean has extensive experience working with children and has also run recreational programs for physically disabled children in St. John’s Newfoundland, where he met his wife Anita who worked for the City of St. John’s, Parks and Recreation department.
Throughout Sean’s employment at Venta Preparatory School, he has been involved in developing the school’s summer camp programs. He was also actively involved throughout his career coaching soccer and baseball for many years in the local community. Sean has his level 1 and 2 coaching certification. Sean also has extensive background in athletics including football, rugby, baseball, soccer, skiing and is a snowshoeing facilitator. He has his level 2 Ropes Course/Climbing Wall certification along with site specific certification on 5 Star’s own Ropes course and climbing wall.
While Anita has worked in finance her entire adult life and has been the office manager in the finance department at Venta for 15 years, she has now changed her direction to work in a therapeutic setting at the school running the Sound Therapy Listening Laboratory. Here she is actively helping children find ways to cope with the stresses and pressures of everyday academic life, along with helping to give the children the tools to tap into their own skills and abilities to reach success in every aspect of their lives.
Sean and his wife Anita currently reside in Carp and absolutely love working with children, they are both First Aid/CPR, AED and Epipen certified. They have two children of their own, Justin “Shades” and Angela “Peanut” who are away at University completing their respective degrees. Justin and Angela are both Counsellors during the summer at 5 Star Camps and have very important leadership positions.
Papa Bear and Neats are excited that 5 Star Camps is celebrating its 10 year anniversary and hope to continue to develop the camp into an incredible outdoor experience giving children bonding memories to last a lifetime.
Mary Reilly “Mimi” found her calling in life in September 1989 when she started teaching Music for Young Children, Frances Balodis Limited (MYC). This program is a Canadian, keyboard-based music course that teaches children between the ages of 3-10 music theory and how to play the piano. For the past 8 years, Mary has been a classroom music teacher for both the OCCSB (grade 7 & 8) and a private school. In the middle of that 8 year period she had the unique experience of teaching music to students from Grade 1 to 10 at Venta Preparatory School. There she taught voice, theory and concert band instruments.
Mary is blessed with a special gift that allows her to relate well with children and youth of all ages. She relays one experience that happened recently in one of her grade 8 classes. The guest speaker asked the students who their role model was and one young lady said, “Ms Reilly!” When asked why, she responded by saying, “Because we always laugh in class. We have fun and I hope to have the sense of humour when I’m a teacher!” Then, a 14 year old boy said, “I feel safe in Ms Reilly’s classroom. She makes me and everyone else feel comfortable.” When Mary heard him say this, she realized that “hanging with kids is the job for me!”
Outside of teaching, Mary enjoys running long distances and cycling. She has recently learned to swim and has started training for a triathlon. One of her favourite things to do is to play guitar and compose songs. Mary has a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education. She is First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen trained. Mini also has Site Specific Certification on our Low Ropes Course and Climbing Wall.
Tigist Thomsen “Tiggy” is currently working at Queensway West Montessori School teaching primary classes ages 2-6 year olds. Previous to this she worked at Rainbow Montessori, teaching toddlers and primary classes physical education. She attended and graduated from Venta Preparatory School in grade ten and then finshed her High School education at Redeemer Christian High School. Before attending Algonquin College to study Early Childhood Education, Tigist spent a year in the Katimavik program, a youth service program that gives young adults the opportunity to volunteer in communities throughout the country while living in a group atmosphere. When she returned, she commenced her studies and worked full-time during the summer months with the City of Ottawa as a Camp Counsellor. She continued later with the City of Ottawa and became a Camp Director, running summer camp programs for children ages 3-10. Tigist has a wonderful ability to relate to children and a great sense of humour which puts them at ease immediately when they meet her. Her gentle and kind personality allows children to bond with her and reach their full potential in a fun and safe environment.
Julie Kelly “Duckie” like a mother duck treats children like her little ducklings. Always aiming to make sure children are having fun, yet are in a safe and nurturing environment, Julie has as much fun being with the children as the children have with her.
Julie has always known that a career with children is where she is meant to be. Currently a student of Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario, Julie is enrolled in the Concurrent Education program in the Primary/Junior division while majoring in Psychology. Julie will be entering her fifth and final year of the program in September. She hopes to remain in the Ottawa Valley area after she graduates. She is certified in First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen training, she is also site certified on the Ropes Course and Climbing wall.
Working with children is something Julie has done all her life. She has been exposed to many different settings, including the classroom, intramural teams, and the Special Olympics. Although she has enjoyed working with all age groups, her heart belongs to the primary children.
Brittany Rich “Jazz” has been with 5 Star Camps for nine years and has never hesitated when it was time to prepare for another summer with the Little Dippers (5-6 year olds). She has a special ability to make connections with our youngest campers and makes them feel right at home on our campgrounds. Her love for 5 Star and for the campers is the reason she returns each year.
Brittany is completing her Bachelors of Physical and Health Education in June 2016 at Nipissing University. She has become an advocate for daily physical activity and leading a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, she recognizes the importance of inclusive environments and physical activity in developing healthy children. Brittany always leads by example by actively participating in the activities, as you’ll always find her swimming in the pool, racing down the water slide, and dancing like nobody’s watching. Thereby, encouraging children to be active and creative in a learning environment. Upon completion of her BPHE, Brittany plans on continuing her education at Nipissing University in the Bachelors of Education program where she can further develop her teaching philosophy and continue to be involved with youth on a daily basis.
If you see little campers tip-toeing pretending to be invisible with 5-Star’s special dust or walking around with binoculars searching for treasure, Brittany will definitely be there! Whether she is telling stories about living on a pirate ship or playing a fast game of “Red Light, Green Light”, she believes with all her heart that these connections and special moments in a child’s life are where memories are made. Every year, she counts down the days until she is amongst her new campers and welcoming them to the 5 Star family.
Stephanie McGee “Wiggles” As her name implies, she loves to dance! Stephanie’s passion for the performing arts began at age eight when she participated in her first jazz class. This love and enthusiasm for dance lead her to pursue further training in jazz, ballet, tap, musical theater and lyrical. Stephanie began teaching dance in 2006. She is actively involved in coaching a competitive dance team and also helps students prepare for ADAPT and RAD exams with great success. Over the years Stephanie has worked with children of all ages and has been inspired by their energy and desire to learn. In addition to teaching dance, Stephanie attends Carleton University and is currently in her final year of her BA Honours in Psychology.
Andrew Kwai “Mocha” has been at 5 Star Camps since our first summer back in 2007. His love for summer camps began while working the evening program at Camp Venta at the age of 15. He has a special connection to our wonderful property, where he has been a student, staff, and has even helped to refurbish our famous Fort.
Since starting with 5 Star, he has worked with campers from almost every age group, and leads the development of our leadership program, helping to grow the skills of our young, up-and-coming staff. He is First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen trained. Mocha also has Site Specific Certification on our Low Ropes Course and Climbing Wall.
Andrew graduated from Venta in 2006, later moving on to Carleton University for a Bachelor’s of Science, and then the University of Ottawa, where he completed his Bachelor’s of Education. He currently teaches high school math in the public board, while working on his Master’s Degree, and tutoring at the Venta Community Learning Centre.
Chrysane Ngo “Bananie” enjoys working with children of all ages. Inspired by their curiousity and imagination, she decided to formally pursue a career in education during her senior year of high school. Since then, her experiences interacting with children in a variety of settings have enabled her to develop a teaching philosophy which centres on fostering an inclusive environment that supports personal, intellectual, and social development.
At the reception tent, Chrysane warmly welcomes campers and their parents to 5 Star. She will be there to greet you with a cheerful, “Good morning!” or say a friendly, “Don’t forget about crazy hat day! See you tomorrow!” at the end of the day. Her ability to communicate clearly and effectively with both children and adults ensures that the children are excited to be at camp and that the parents feel at ease! As she leads her group of campers to each station, her energy and enthusiasm never wavers. Chrysane’s priority is ensuring that the children entrusted in her care are learning and having fun in a safe space. She is First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen trained. Bananie also has Site Specific Certification on our Low Ropes Course and Climbing Wall.
Chrysane graduated with honours from the University of Ottawa, where she majored in English and minored in Psychology. She then received her Primary/Junior teaching certification upon completion of the Bachelor of Education Program at Queen’s University, where a highlight was completing a three week placement at an IB International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Chrysane currently teaches grade 4/5 at Venta Preparatory School and tutors at Venta Community Learning Centre.
Lindsay Seguin “HoneyBee” started working with 5 Star Camps 6 years ago, and fell in love with the welcoming atmosphere and incredible environment. She has slowly moved her way through the variety of positions and now resides in the Arts and Crafts room where she is responsible for using her creativity to design crafts that will spark our campers’ interest. She always has new and exciting ideas to share with each and every group!
You can always find Lindsay and her welcoming smile at the reception tent ready to greet the campers and their parents when they sign in at the beginning of the day and sign out at the end! She is always there to lend a helping hand and answer any questions you may have!
Lindsay completed her schooling at Queen’s University, where she successfully completed the Concurrent Education program, receiving her Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Psychology and her Bachelor of Education. Lindsay is able to teach at the primary, junior, and intermediate level and truly has a passion for working with children of all ages. She has extensive experience as a tutor, ranging from the primary to university level. She is an enthusiastic and compassionate individual helping each one of her students to not only learn, but to love learning. She is First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen trained.
Lindsay is currently working as an occasional teacher for the Limestone District School Board in Kingston, Ontario.
She truly is dedicated to making a difference in the life of each of our campers! She cannot wait to see what this year of campers has to offer!
Zachary MacNeill “Big Mac” was a student at Venta Preparatory School and has known Papa Bear and Neats for over 15 years. He was a boarder at Venta and lived on the property for 5 years where he developed very strong ties to the school community. He was always a fantastic team player and loved the outdoors. Zachary played a huge role in the building of our incredible fort and continues to be very involved in the shaping of the Venta/5 Star Camps property.
Zachary has a great deal of experience working in the cooking industry. He has however decided to return to his roots at Venta Preparatory School as a full time employee and also lives on the property with his newly wed wife, Sarah.
He began to work at 5 Star Camps in 2008 running the Low Ropes and Climbing wall program with Mary Reilly (aka MiMi). Big Mac has the natural gift of risk management and is able to relate to children of all ages, his desire to give the children at camp the positive outdoor experiences he was so lucky to have at Venta makes his job incredibly rewarding. He is an avid climber and loves the outdoors. He is First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen trained. Big Mac also has Site Specific Certification on our Low Ropes Course and Climbing Wall.
Big Mac is incredibly excited to take on the responsibility of leading our new Outdoor Leadership Camp this summer and is a natural fit for this program. He enjoys the outdoors, any sport, and listening to tunes. He also does not agree with Chicken about hockey whatsoever. Go Sens Go!
Hoping to see many returning and new faces at camp this year!
Angela Hopper “Peanut” has been very interested in working with children of all ages. “5 Star is a wonderful and welcoming environment for all children which is exactly the type of place I have always wanted to work”. Angela believes that a comfortable and encouraging camp environment is the best place for children to learn and grow as individuals.
Angela has been working at 5 Star Camps for 9 years, and has watched the program develop into what it is today. She has a vast background and extensive knowledge in dance and has been dancing on her own and with teams, since she was a very young child across numerous genres.
You can find Peanut with the Shooting Stars! She has been running the Dance Camp for several years now along with Oreo (Meg). She is always amazed at the creativity and talent of the 9/10 year old campers, their enthusiasm and excitement. She is always keenly aware of the fact that not everyone arrives at camp with the same dancing skills, but most importantly she knows that Dance camp is more focused on the love of music and movement and the bonding of friendships, which is what camp is all about! Peanut also assists MiMi (Mary) for 2 weeks during the summer in the Music Camp.
Angela has been heavily involved in all forms of art since she was quite young including Music and Fine Arts. She graduated from Venta Preparatory School in 2010 and received the coveted Andrew Tanchuk Music award at Venta for her skills on the flute. Angela is currently enrolled at St. Francis Xavier University working towards a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Music and a Minor in Fine Arts, going into her final year.
Angela is certified in First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen training, she is also site certified on the Ropes Course and Climbing wall. She is fully dedicated to 5 Star Camp’s amazing program and cannot wait to see what this summer has to offer!”
Justin Hopper “Shades” has worked at 5 Star Camps since the opening year. He attended Camp Venta from a very young age, and has been around summer camps and camp directors his entire life. He has lots of experience working with children in both an academic and a camp setting. A Venta graduate, he is currently in his final year of his degree at Bishop’s University, completing his undergraduate in Honours Psychology.
Having been a part of 5 Star Camps for so long, Justin has experienced and helped to shape many of the different staff positions that 5 Star has to offer. He has instructed Archery, Multi-Sport, Ropes Course, and most recently Junior Staff Leadership programs from both a Counsellor and Assistant Counsellor position, as well as having experienced other positions, from daily maintenance and upkeep, to creating the weekly camp videos for campers to remember their time at camp! He has also been the camp DJ for several years, providing music for the outdoor activities in the mornings and evenings. Justin has site-specific certification on the ropes course and climbing wall, and is trained in First-Aid/CPR/AED/Epipen use.
Alex Budd “Hawk Eye” is entering his 6th year of working at 5 Star Camps. In his opinion, each year of camp gets better and better, and he is sure all our campers agree. Hawk Eye is in his 4th year at Humber College in Toronto, and loves camp so much he manages to make his way back to Carp every summer!
Having been a camper as a kid, Hawk knows how campers can feel anxious and excited on their first day of camp. Hawk Eye does his best to make sure each camper feels welcome on their first day. He is dedicated to making every camper’s experience at camp unforgettable!
Alex has a severe allergy to peanuts and tree nuts, so he understands how scary it can be being a camper with allergies. Hawk Eye makes sure every camper feels safe and comfortable during snack and lunchtime. Alex makes sure each camper in his group that has an allergy or special diet is introduced to “Chicken”, who always has a meal for them, specific to their diet.
Alex is certified in First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen training as well as being site certified on the ropes course and the climbing wall. He has worked with the Crazy Comets and has experience running the archery station. Hawk can also sometimes be found filling in for Shades to play the music for camp dances. Hawk Eye looks forward to yet another exciting year at 5 Star Camps!
Dana Ciresianu “Small Fry” started working at 5 Star Camps her first summer after graduating from high school. It was that summer when she discovered her passion for working with children. This newfound passion drove her to get her Bachelors of Education from University of Western Ontario in London, once she finished her Honors of Biology at University of Ottawa. It is safe to say that 5 Star Camps has forever changed her life. This upcoming summer will be Dana’s 7th year of working at 5 Star Camps and she can’t wait! The best time of the year, according to Small Fry, is camp time!
Small Fry has experience working with the Galactic Gang, the Supernovas and running the archery station. To ensure the safety of her campers, Small Fry is First Aid/CPR, AED, and Epipen trained. She is also certified on the ropes course and Cliff the climbing wall.
Dana is currently a tutor at Venta Community Learning Center, where she works hard to find the best way to teach her students. Her passion for teaching is visible to her students and in turn drives them to want to learn more.
Meaghan Oliver “Oreo” began working at 5 Star in 2013 and has since fell in love with the positive and energetic atmosphere that the camp provides. She is First Aid/CPR, AED and Epipen Trained. Meaghan works with Peanut with the Shooting Stars dance camp and takes great joy in watching kids learn to fall in love with dance as much as she does.
Currently in her third year at the University of Ottawa completing a specialization in English, Meaghan hopes to afterwards attend teachers college with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. Meaghan has been dancing since the age of 7 having studied ballet, jazz, tap, musical theatre, and lyrical under the RAD and ADAPT syllabi. She has been teaching dance since the age of 15 and has taught at 4 different studios in the Ottawa area, as well as volunteering her time to teach dance at multiple elementary schools. Her students have successfully completed several dance examinations and taken part in both regional and national competitions winning many awards. Meaghan loves to see her students succeed in dance but more importantly to her is watching a child learn to appreciate the art of dance and the various ways in which it can bring a smile to both a dancer and the audience’s face. Being able to participate in making a child’s summer a memorable one is Meaghan’s main goal working at 5 Star and she is excited to experience future memories with the campers and staff at camp!
Dylan Bartley “Bolt” is currently a student at Carleton University here in Ottawa. He is enrolled in the Psychology program and will be entering his fourth and final year of the program in September. Following graduation, he hopes to remain in Ottawa and begin working towards becoming a child and youth worker. Dylan dedicates a lot of his time throughout the school year towards philanthropy, trying to raise awareness and fundraising for non-profit organizations, with a focus on St. Jude’s Children Hospital, The Canadian Cancer Society, and The Alzheimer’s Society. Philanthropy work has instilled a sense of responsibility to provide service to his campus and community in any way he can. He is certified in First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen training, he is also site certified on the Ropes Course and Climbing wall.
Dylan has been at 5 Star since his first week volunteering in 2010. He immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and has not been able to leave since. While being receptive to change and new ideas, he has eagerly learned the ropes of working with children, giving each camper the best experience he can with enthusiasm and generosity. He loves working with all age groups at our camp and tries to share his knowledge, experience, time, and energy with any camper that needs it. Dylan can’t wait to see what this new camp year will bring!
Erin Gloyn “Boogie Shoes” has a natural talent for making others smile and feel welcomed. Always aiming to make sure children enjoy their time at 5 Star Camp while learning in a safe and nurturing environment. Erin has as much fun with the children as the children have with her.
Erin has always had a passion for working with children. She is currently studying at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. Erin is enrolled in the Concurrent Education program in the Primary/ Junior division while majoring in Psychology and Environmental Geography. Erin will be entering her fifth and final year of the program in September.
Working with children is something Erin has done her whole life. She has been exposed to many different setting, including: the classroom, coaching intermural, teaching dance classes, and working with special needs children. All though she enjoys working with all ages, her heart belongs with the primary children.
Gilliam Mattock “Arty-M” My qualifications and experience are in residential social work in the United Kingdom, working with spirited and challenging children and teens, as well as adults with special needs. I have used my love of art throughout my career to reach out to, and enrich the lives of the different client groups I have worked with. My skills include the ability to help people feel at ease quite quickly, and I like to encourage those with little confidence to try and have a go, no matter what we are doing. I enjoy the company of youngsters and can tell a good yarn to captivate my audience. You will find in me, a compassionate person with a great deal of common sense.
I have enjoyed working as the Junior School art teacher at Venta Preparatory School for the past 13 years. It is a super team to be a part of.
I live near Kinburn in the middle of nowhere, with my husband and pets, and my son and daughter come back to spend weekends regularly. I love being outdoors, summer or winter, it doesn’t matter, swimming, cycling, snowshoeing, or walking with dogs. What does matter is spending good times with family and friends doing things together.
I look forward to another Fine Arts Camp at 5 Star this summer. I always enjoy seeing the skills develop and the imaginations flow from the young artists coming to the art studio. See you there!
Emile Emond “Chicken” Hello, my name is Emile. I am the chef at 5-Star Camps. I started working for Sodexo in 1985 at Laurentian University. I received the nickname “Chicken” when students would comment as they watched me work. They said I looked like a crazy chicken with its head cut off. One of my biggest accomplishments in this line of work, was when we catered the Second World Junior Games at Laurential University. Comments were made the following year when the event was hosted in Japan, that the athletes felt their needs were better served the year before in Sudbury, Canada. I started working for Venta Preparatory School in 2001. I thoroughly enjoy working in a youthful environment and have lots of fun with the kids and with the menus to try to keep them healthly and at the same time kid friendly. I believe as a food provider, that children should enjoy the love of eating and they need to know that someone cares about their health. I like to keep an eye on each child’s likes and dislikes and feel strongly that no child should go hungry. I try to give them an enjoyable experience in my dining room.
I have been married for 26 years and reside in Arnprior with my wife Mary, who works at Tim Horton’s in Arnprior. We have two children, Chantelle who is a teacher in Renfrew and Jason who is a supervisor at Tim Horton’s in Arnprior. Some of my interests include fishing, walking and of course hockey. My favourite hockey team is the best: les Canadiens de Monteal. Hey kids, Papa Bear and I have picked some scrumptious food and I have some creative ideas for 5 Star’s “Chicken Coop” so see you this summer! Bon Appetit!