Monthly Archives: February 2014

Pluck your eyebrows at 11 yrs?


I remember when I was 11 and let me give you this visual: stop reading this for a minute and look at two fingers locked together. That’s how thick my eyebrows were (with uni-brow thing in the middle too, yeah). I remember begging my mother every day until beyond 14 years old to pluck my eyebrows and it was always the same answer: NO. She tried to convince me that I was beautiful, that I was too young, that they were fashionable and showed me countless pictures of Brooke Shields. That worked for a while but honestly school was just a nightmare. They were like a repellent (especially with the boys). I mean who would think ‘the unibrow girl’ was cute? Ewwww. I don’t blame my mom. I mean she did her best to keep things simple (and me as far away from the boys as possible). I know now as a mom myself, she was also probably trying to hold onto that innocence in her little girl. My daughter is now 11 and her hugs are just become way too ‘tall’ for me. Sometimes when I hug I whisper to myself ‘I’m going to miss this age’. I’ve also asked my friends what they think and most of them were in agreement with my mom: 11 years old is too young to pluck.

The first time I finally did pluck my eyebrows I was 18 (yes, that’s right). I continued to live with the story: that it was going to take my natural beauty away if I plucked them- but when you go to the hair salon and the owner tells you ‘honey,its time to let that thought go’: you really can’t argue. Talk about PAIN but in the end: BAM! I felt like a super-model! I mean I even saw my skin as a tone lighter because my eyes were just so much more visible! My life had been transformed.

Yesterday as I came to bed I found a note from my daughter reading:

Dear Mom,
I haven’t told you this but I need to talk to you. Its about my eyebrows. I hate them. I tried to look on the bright side but there is none. I know its going to hurt so if you know a reason for me not to pluck them please write it on the back of the page and leave it in my room. At school when people are rude they know it hurts because its my face. I never look at anyone talking to me because all they look at is my eyebrows. Could I bleach them or something maybe? If you have any ideas could we talk?
I love you.

So today I went to talk to her. I told her it takes a lot of courage to love oneself. To feel a sense of belonging in your own skin, is the same feeling as being home. To feel confident with who you are, regardless of what others think or say is not easy, but its the only way people will stop the comments. We talked about her feelings and about what she wanted to do. I told her I would wax the hair between her eyes (that’s what was bothering her most ..whew) for HER, not for her friends. She agreed that this was for her because she just didn’t like it.

I feel like I’m on top of the world now, without a doubt. We laughed as I ripped the wax strip off and I admired her beautiful face as she looked straight in the mirror with a HUGE smile. ‘Wow, I didn’t think I was going to look like this mom- I feel like a super model!’ She took a few silly-girl poses in the mirror. I was so blessed that she could come to me with her fears, her struggles and her pain and I could just take that all away with a simple action tonight. So the story about plucking eyebrows at 11 years old is just ‘too young’ is really just that: it’s a story. I think the most important lesson I learned here is to keep that conversation going with my kids. Even if I have grown up with ideas inherited from my parents: I should have the courage to talk to them and hear their point of view and listen to what they really going through to get the full picture. I truly think that is the best way we can ensure our kids live their best life and ultimately our own in the process 🙂


What to look for in a March Break Camp


From the Director

March Break Camp is the number one complaint I get from working parents when it comes to school holidays. One of our parents recently told me: ‘Just like PA Days, it creeps up on me and then just like that, I have to scramble to find full day care for the kids because I don’t get the time off!” Many parents don’t know what to look for when choosing the right camp or after school program. The advantage of being a parent while running an after-school facility and seasonal camp site is that I get to see both sides. I get to see what I would want as a parent in an after school facility as well as  camps  and carry out those standard right here. Each year I give evaluations to our  parents because  its those suggestions that keep us improved.

With March Break Camp just around the corner I thought I would share 3 major things to consider when registering for a March Break Camp based on what our parents have mentioned, and what I look for in while while hiring staff. 

1. Safety is always number one. It really is. With over 15 years experience working with kids and youth, what I look for in staff primarily are there credentials and CPR/First Aid has to be present (or we provide that training). Staff need to be cautious and be able to predict situations. In our staff training we use real life examples and our rule is to take action before a situation gets out of control: for example if  little Johnny is walking towards the outside door, a staff member needs to predict that he will be OUT the door very soon so they need to stop him.  As a parent its wise to ask if counselors are CPR/First Aid trained as well as the staff:camper ratio.  You also want to make sure there are senior staff present (adults) rather than just teens watching the kids. If there is a Co-Director onsite, even better to maintain safety procedures and to give a hand in case of an emergency. If your child has an allergy or requires special care, be sure to mention that information and ask if staff is trained to handle the care.


2. Programming is key. It’s so important for kids to learn through different means. It allows them to use their creative mind, take risks and build confidence in different areas. As a parent I would ask about the schedule, the physical aspect of the camp as well as creative. Many parents tell me that their kids usually find other camps they’ve been to ‘boring’ and that CampZone is the first camp they love.  As a teacher for over 15 years and a mom of 3, I feel the only reason kids would get bored at camp is because there is not enough in the programming to keep them excited (they are really easy to please). It’s so important for the kids to have a fun-filled day and that programming provides a variety of skills. At CampZone we build future visionary leaders and therefore part of our programming includes learning different skills including sports, art, drama and dance. We invite our parents to see the results and host a Show Case and Sports Banquet at the end of each session. One of our parents last year at camp told me that her son was a hard-core hockey player and he wouldn’t be interested in  acting  (and wished me good luck getting him on the stage).  Turned out, he was not only a hockey star as he was cast  the lead of  our ‘Andrews Loose Tooth’ skit and proved himself a star on the stage as well! His parents were thrilled at his performance (they invited the whole family!) and he now can say he’s good at both.  


3. Do your kids want to leave? This is a great indicator and it happens at CampZone all the time! Our kids don’t want to leave and its a HUGE compliment to us. As a parent when I take my kids to any kind of facility or programming I observe the energy. Don’t overlook friendliness, how considerate staff are with you and your kids, cleanliness and work ethic. It’s so important that my kids feel safe, secure and encouraged to take part. Kids need to be excited about camp and learn new things through having FUN! As a parent, if the camp is right, you will see immediate results  – the kids will be so happy they won’t want to leave at the end of the day and be excited to wake up in the morning.


I hope this helped you  think about the right camp for your child(ren). For more information on CampZone please visit:




Make it a REAL LOVE Month


Happy February all.
This month Canada along with many other western countries celebrates Valentines Day on February 14th. We’ve spoken to many parents and they say: ‘eh what’s Valentines Day anyways?’ and they laugh saying its just another insignificant Hallmark Day, that we should show love every day.. why just on February 14th??
Its true we have many celebration days: Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Grandparents Day, Fathers Day, Kids Day and now yes even for those hard core Canadian campers: we even have a National S’mores Day! Here what our director suggested to our families for this month and we hope you will join us in your own way :
1. Let’s take the good and leave out the bad. You don’t need to buy anything or book a date night but we could really focus on loving ourselves and others this month and encourage through our behaviour. As I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, she mentions that  love is ‘not something we give or we get but something we nurture and grow and we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.’ Lets really think about that every day and what actions we are REALLY taking to project that love.
2. Lets change the thought that: love is a feeling . Its actually an action. When we meet someone we love, we go to HUGE lengths to project that love. We send flowers, book dates, surprise birthdays, buy fancy clothes to look good, talk kindly and even listen better! As we keep giving love – we start receiving it and it only keeps growing along with the feeling. The feeling can’t grow without the action.
3. Let’s focus on ourselves expecting nothing in return when we give love. Lets expect nothing but gratitude from within that we are capable of REAL love (that’s powerful). Brene says love and belonging go hand-in-hand. Let take a look there as well and recognize where we feel we want to belong.
4. We will encounter obstacles as in every journey however lets take them as life’s clues to a new path rather than a ‘punishment’ or ‘threat’.
5. ‘We all want to be loved and feel that we are a part if something bigger than ourselves.’ -Brene Brown. Let’s act that together this month. Let’s reject shame, blame,disrespect and withholding love to be right. Lets not blame so our point of view is the RIGHT points of view. Let’s do it right and let’s see what happens- what doors open and which doors remain closed.
I will be posting my thoughts throughout this month on how I projected love and hope you will be vulnerable with me and do the same.
Much love this month all,
Dana Ben Halim
❤ “It’s always seems impossible, until its done.” – Nelson Mandela