A helping hand
Rennie guides youth through summer

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Sep 04/98) - For a guy who never worked with children before, Troy Rennie found himself literally surrounded by youngsters this summer.

As a day camp supervisor for the Fort Simpson recreation department, Rennie spent seven weeks helping to exercise, discipline and entertain between nine and 28 kids daily.

He did such a good job that recreation director Scott McAdam essentially handed over the reins by the third week.

"He was more or less the programmer," McAdam said. "Three weeks in, I kind of let him take it over. He did a good job... we both learned a lot."

Rennie said he was a little unsure of himself at the outset.

"At first everything was trial and error for me," said Rennie, 22. He said every time he thought he had mastered tricks to entice the young campers to behave, the veterans would become wise to him and he'd have to figure out more.

One of the kids' favourite extra curricular activities was stealing his ball cap.

"During the sports camp, they wore my hat more than I did," he said, smiling. "I treat them like I treat my friends, I just have a different pitch in my voice."

A number of people told Rennie they didn't envy him or co-workers T.G. Wilson and Chris Sidor, as they had to regularly contend with quarrels and temper tantrums.

"It is stressful out there, but there are lots of little rewards," he said.

For example, during a talent show that the campers arranged themselves, the young volunteer emcee forgot what he was going to say and was laughed off the stage. Rennie spent some time consoling him and convinced him to give it another shot.

"He did the rest of the show really good... and had a sparkle in his eye," Rennie recalled. "He was really happy."

Another occasion that made an impression on him was when one young girl told her father she'd rather return to the day camp the following week than join her family on vacation.

Of all the activities he led the campers in, a game called "capture the flag" was Rennie's favourite. As with the rest of the sports and games, he emphasized that being a good sport was most important. By the end of the summer, the majority of the campers no longer held winning as their top priority, he said.

Rennie, who also works at Simpson Air, was found at the pool Saturday, where he volunteered to barbecue hotdogs for kids at the final day of swimming, the day after his job as day camp supervisor had wrapped up.

"It was really a lot of fun," he said of his summer position. "I always had a smile just watching them."