Each summer, we hire about 70 staff to serve the needs of upwards of 200 campers. Maintaining a staff to camper ratio of 1:3 is extremely important for the success of our program. About 85% of our staff has either been a camper or a staff member during a previous summer at Nominingue. These staff members are valued for their Nominingue experience. They ensure that our traditions remain strong, they share our philosophy and they ensure that our program runs smoothly. We also recognize the importance of hiring staff who have not grown up within the Nominingue tradition. They are extremely important in bringing new ideas and experiences to camp. They ensure that we do question our ways of doing things and that we continue to grow as a camp after 90 years of operation.
Owner – Erik Blachford
In April 2015, Erik Blachford and his wife Maryam purchased Camp Nominingue from Peter Van Wagner. Erik and his brother were campers and counsellors in the 1970s and 1980s, following a tradition established by their father and uncle in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, Erik’s sons are campers and the whole family has been attending our family camp each August.
Erik’s goal for camp is to ensure that Nominingue continue to provide young people and families with the special experience, the unique values and traditions upon which it was built, as it has since it was founded by FM Van Wagner and Hay Finlay in 1925.
The operation of the camp will continue with very little noticeable change. Grant McKenna, director, and Elisa Van Wagner, business manager will remain in charge of the camp’s operation, and Grant will become a part-owner of the camp.
Director – Grant McKenna
Grant began working for Camp Nominingue in 1975 as a 16 year-old junior counsellor after attending as a camper for three years. Over the next forty-five years, he has spent 32 summers at Camp, filling a variety of positions including Trip Director, Section Director, Business Manager and Program Director. From 2001 to 2004, Grant was the Camp’s Executive Director. He knows and understands the Camp’s program and philosophy thoroughly and strives to ensure that each Camper and Staff Member has the opportunity to learn new skills and develop as a person during their stay at camp.
In addition to working at camp, Grant has over 17 years’ experience teaching at the Elementary and High School levels. He is fluent in both French and English. He also worked for three years as the Director of Sirius Wilderness Medicine Inc., which trains outdoor professionals in wilderness first aid.
Grant returned to Camp as Director in 2010. He and his family have enjoyed spending their summers on the shores of Petit Lac Nominingue.
Business Manager – Elisa van Wagner
Elisa grew up spending summers at Camp Nominingue with her family.
During the late 70’s and early 80’s, she worked in the camp’s infirmary alongside the nurse and doctor, and began working full time as the camp’s business manager in the fall of 2002. Having spent all or part of every summer at Nominingue, she knows all about the camp and its day-to-day operations.
With her own son starting camp at the age of 7 and continuing his camper career through to becoming a staff member, Elisa knows first hand what it is to be a camper parent throughout the years. She believes strongly that, while at camp, every camper should have a rich and rewarding vacation and that every parent deserves peace of mind.
Over the years Elisa has had the pleasure of helping many parents get over the jitters of being first-time camper parents by taking their calls and offering assurances as to how their son is settling in.
Making sure that campers and parents have the feeling of belonging to the Nominingue family is a very important part of Elisa’s role at camp!
Assistant Director – Joseph Lambert
Joseph Lambert worked at Camp Nominingue as a counsellor and theatre instructor in 1994-95, then returned for several years to work at family camp.
Joe joined Prevention CDN-NDG in 2000 and worked in crime prevention and safety for youth and families for the city of Montreal for 20 years, reaching out to thousands of kids in schools and in the community. He also worked as doorman and security for public events. Through his work, Joe ran training programs for day camp staff and led workshops on bullying and violence prevention.
Keeping youth safe and having fun is what it’s all about for Joe. He has developed strong communication and interpersonal skills and looks forward to sharing these skills at camp.
Born and raised in the Eastern townships of Quebec, Joe has always felt at home outdoors. Joe lives in Montreal with his wife and two children. He looks forward to spending summers up at camp and having his family discover Nominingue.
Joe is someone families can count on to take great care of their sons while they are at camp.