Jay Gamey (On Parental Leave May 4 - September 7)

Learn more about Jay

What do you enjoy most about Mini U?

The environment is diverse, vibrant and inspiring. One of the best things about Mini U is the strength of the team. Everyone has a clear role, is given the space to be independent but has the support of the group being by your side. 

I am lucky to be able to work in such a fun and positive working environment. Together we work to create positive experiences for participants, families and employees. I feel fortunate to be able to contribute.

When did you start working with the programs?

My first year with the programs was in 2002 working as a group leader. I loved it so much I never wanted to leave and did everything I could to make that happen. 

Over the years I have had experience leading recreation and classroom activities as well as individuals with special needs. From there I spent a year and a half as a Program Supervisor before taking the Sport Program Coordinator position in 2006. In 2009 I began my current role as the Director.

What experience do you have leading children's programming?

During my time with Mini U I have had the opportunity to implement many new programs, services, experiences and systems within the programs. Early on in my leadership role we established curriculums, lesson plans and learning outcomes for all programs. In 2011 a leadership model and development strategy were introduced and have since been integrated into all aspects of the Mini U experience. 

The Mini U experience was reimagined in 2014. The programs now include unique activities, programs, leadership opportunities and experiences for our 3 age divisions. These features are designed to unlock opportunities within the program and engage participants as they grow. 

Our operation plans are integral to the success of the programs. New systems and processes are created on an ongoing basis to ensure we are delivering our optimal experience and ensuring the safety of our participants. Over the years we have implemented new mobile group lists and personal information management systems, camp scheduling, online registration, employee training and hiring processes.

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

Growing up I was lucky enough to have had coaches and teachers who created moments for me that eventually had a positive impact on my life. As the director my goal has been to build an environment where leaders create opportunities and memorable moments for others.

Our participants and leaders have such unique and diverse backgrounds. We want to ensure people feel welcomed, supported in being themselves and encouraged to learn from our difference. 

In many ways, Mini U has been education. The environment continues to help me develop skills as a professional and leader. My hope is that I can help our team of leaders gain as much value form their time with the program as I have. 

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

My role is to allow others to be successful in what they do. I enjoy watching leaders grow and develop while offering support and guidance along their pursuit of success. Helping people help others is a unique opportunity.

What is your favourite activity at Mini U?

I love activities that allow teams to work together. Drive'n'Dunk and spike ball are a couple of my favourites.

Ashley Gagnon M.PT., B.Kin. (AT), B.A.

Learn more about Ashley

What do you enjoy most about Mini U?

The opportunity for collaborative work. The capacity of our team is outstanding.  I feel so lucky to be surrounded by a passionate, energetic, and engaged team. Every problem is solvable and project possible when you have the support of such a hardworking and determined group of people working collaboratively. Each team member is celebrated for their uniqueness and how their individual experiences can positively influence our work. To be able to work with a large group of people with the same inevitable goal of creating positive experiences for our staff and customers is so special. 

When did you start working with the programs?

My first year with the programs was in 2006 as a Program Supervisor. I grew up outside of Winnipeg and prior to my first day, my only experience with Mini U had been from a distance. I remember seeing groups of campers and leaders enjoying games in green spaces on campus and thinking that it would be a fun summer job. I had no idea of the impact the programs would have on my career. I was immediately welcomed into the Mini U family and have been lucky enough to call it my home since that time.  

I spent three summers as a Program Supervisor, and began in my current role in 2010 (with a short hiatus since that time for Graduate School). 

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

I grew up leading children’s programming. My time teaching dance and swimming lessons inspired me to a pursue a career that included influencing opportunities for young people to be physically active. It was in pursuit of this passion that I was drawn to Mini U.

It is the opportunities I have had to influence the integration of our Aquatics area that I am most proud of. Although once felt to be separate, we have aimed to streamline the experience of our Fall/Winter/Spring Aquatics customers to align with that of our summer camp participants. We have aligned our staff recruitment, hiring, training, and expectations with that of all Mini U staff. Our Lifeguards and Swim leaders are now as much a part of the larger Mini U team as leaders in other positions. 

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

I hope that I can help to create an environment where people are reminded of their strengths, feel appreciated for their efforts and are given opportunities to challenge themselves in ways that are meaningful to them. I hope that our participants and leaders will have the confidence to try new things and release any expectations of perfection in favor of expecting “failure” and treating it as an opportunity to learn. 

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

I love the diversity of my position. From trying to create fun and engaging games for a training session of 200 leaders, to assisting a young camper in understanding the consequences of their actions, to brainstorming the logistics for changes to part of our operational procedures, no two days are the same.

What is your favorite activity at Mini U?

I love our activity packages that are not based on mainstream team sports (Kinect-4 will always be a favorite!). It was Mini U that taught me that there are so many activities that I could participate in as part of a team that aren’t the ones I learnt in gym class as a child.  I think exposure to such a broad range of activities can create such valuable opportunities for our campers. Lifelong physical activity is so important and finding something that we enjoy and which allows us to feel successful is such an important part of that journey.
 

Drew Sheffield

Learn more about Drew

What do you enjoy most about Mini U? 

Mini U has a work environment like no other.  "Working really hard, while laughing" is a great way to describe it.  I come to work knowing that I have an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life each day and that excites me.      

When did you start working with the programs?

I started in the summer of 2005.  I was hooked immediately and continued to work for the program throughout the fall, winter and spring while I was a student at the University.  In 2007, I was given the opportunity to work as a Program Supervisor and began my position as a Program Coordinator in 2010.   

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

During my first couple of years as a Program Coordinator, a big part of what I did was helping to create recreational experiences for children participating in our school groups program during the fall, winter, spring.  While this is still a big part of my role, my experience with Mini U has transformed into focusing more on the leadership and community side of the programs.  I'm now a part of assisting in the creation of leadership program curriculums and lesson plans and helping to administer our low-income and Indigenous subsidy program.    

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

Before working here, I never felt that I was a part of something that was big and meaningful.  I was welcomed and accepted with open arms immediately when starting here and celebrated for who I was.  It has inspired me to do the same for others.   

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

The strides that individuals take while working here is awesome.  The thing that I enjoy the most about leading at Mini U is watching someone's growth from their first day at Leader Week orientation to their final days as a leader.       

What is your favorite activity at Mini U?

Dodgeball. Hands down. 

 

Kaylee Green

Learn more about Kaylee

What do you enjoy most about Mini U?

There is something really special about having the opportunity to witness the joy and excitement of the participants in our programs each day.  Seeing a child make new friends, learn a new skill, receive a leadership card and laugh and play in an environment where I get to contribute, makes me fall in love with my job each and every day. 

I feel very fortunate to be a part of the magic that happens inside these walls day in and day out and to work with wonderful people that are more like friends than colleagues. 

When did you start working with the programs?

Unlike the rest of the leadership team, I did not work with Mini U Programs prior to my current position.  As a student in the faculty I had observed from the sidelines the fun, fast paced environment and knew that this is where I wanted to be.  

Upon graduation in 2011, a spot on the team opened up and I was lucky enough to snag the Sport Program Coordinator position and I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity. 

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

Over the course of my time with Mini U Programs I have had the opportunity to experience many changes to our programs and structure.  It has been exciting to see the evolution of the programs and how those changes have continued to have a large impact for the program and its participants.  

Each year brings new challenges and opportunities for learning and growth which is one of my favorite parts of this position.  I have been involved with the implementation of our leadership model, creating and implementing sport curriculums and lesson plans, creation and elimination of programs, the building of new software scheduling systems, creating age specific experiences and re-imagining our hiring and training systems. 

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

It is my hope that we can create an inclusive environment where participants and leaders can feel comfortable being themselves and open their minds to dream about future possibilities.  We are fortunate enough to run programming on the University campus where you are surrounded by a diverse array of opportunities and programs and I hope that with our help, we can encourage them to learn something new, take risks, meet new friends, be silly and play and become a leader in some capacity. 

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

Spending time getting to know the people that you work with, developing an understanding of different working styles and preferences and setting goals and aspirations for our time working together is something that I really enjoy.  I love seeing our leaders find success and confidence in themselves and their abilities not only here but in their personal and professional life as well.  

What is your favorite activity at Mini U?

Pinguard, tchoukball and trashketball are some of my favorite games to play.  

Luc Chapman

Learn more about Luc

What do you enjoy most about Mini U?

The culture here is unreal. Everyone around you is working so hard and trying to find ways to make themselves and the programs better. All while having so much fun. Working at a place where your job doesn't feel like a job is a pretty special thing. 

It is awesome being a part of a place where wanting to learn is cool. I come to work each day wanting to go above and beyond because I know the others around me are doing the same. 

When did you start working with the programs?

I started working at Mini U the summer of 2010 as a Group Leader. It was the most fun I had ever had in a job setting and when the summer was over, I couldn't wait to come back. 

I then worked as a Program Supervisor for six years working with sport, special interest, and leadership programming and helping closely with minis, juniors and seniors. Since 2017, I have been lucky enough to take on two Program Coordinator positions, as the Special Interest and Sport Program Coordinator. I am currently the Special Interest Program Coordinator. 

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

Since joining the leadership team in 2011, I have had the opportunity to help to implement a number of changes to the programs. From being a part of the group that created our leadership learning outcomes, to helping reimagine the current structure of our programming and division of staff, while also helping to develop curriculums and program plans for camps like Dinosaur Discovery. 

I have also been a part of creating and developing age specific experiences for the participants coming to camp. In 2015 I helped to create an end of the week group activity for the participants in the Junior Sport area to compete with their Leaders against other groups in the same area. We made sure to focus on coming together as a group to accomplish a goal to allow everyone to get the most out of the experience. 

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

We do our best to provide our participants and program leaders with opportunities to learn what it means to them to be a leader in the context of our programming. I hope that everyone who is a part of the program is able to gain a better understanding of how they can be a leader. 

It is also great that everyone who comes to Mini U gets to be active for a minimum of three hours a day. I think we do a great job of relating our recreational activities like dodgeball to the interests of the participants coming to camp. Helping children find new ways to have fun while being active is very meaningful to me.

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

Working with others to help them achieve their goals can be very rewarding in itself. Shifting my leadership style to each individual's learning style allows me to provide meaningful support to them while also helping me grow as a leader. 

What is your favourite activity at Mini U?

I love activities that get you moving and keep you active. Tchoukball, floor hockey and spikeball are a couple of my favorites.  

Taylor Lafreniere

Learn more about Taylor

What do you enjoy most about Mini U?

The people and the passion. Every summer I have spent at Mini U has changed me for the better. The people that Mini U attracts are hardworking, genuine, and passionate about their impact on the program. 

When did you start working with the programs?

I began working at Mini U in 2014 as a group leader. Over the following 6 summers, I was challenged with new roles from Coach, Swim Leader, Head Lifeguard, Program Supervisor, and in 2019 I took my first Program Coordinator position. 

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

During my time at Mini U I have had the opportunity to influence many of our practices including lesson plan creation, procedural updates, and curriculum editing. 

Re-imagining of our program scheduling software began with big brainstorming and evolved over 5 years until we were able to migrate all aspects of our schedule to live-time on mobile devices. This transition allowed our leadership team to respond rapidly to changes in access to facilitate high-quality programming regardless of circumstance. 

Our summer leader training is a week-long event that covers all aspects relating to optimal customer, child, and staff experience. Inclusivity and behavior modification have always had a special place in my heart. Over several summers we re-imagined our behavior medication model as well as the training we offered to our leaders. Through modern reflection of how behavior modification and inclusivity go hand-in-hand, we created training materials that reflects the world we live in to welcome to every child that attends our programs. 

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

Having grown up playing competitive sport I fell in love with every aspect of belonging to a team. After a knee injury stopped me from playing, I explored the coaching and leading side of sport and physical activity. Mini U gives you the platform to create positive moments for every child you work with, and I quickly realized that being a part of the Mini U team allows passion for physical activity and working with others to come full circle. 

My goal is always to create an environment where every child feels safe and supported in trying something new. Our leaders should feel their impact on the children they work with and I hope we can challenge their development in ways that are meaningful. With program content ranging from science to performing arts to wall climbing and water sports, the opportunities to be engaged and feel a sense of belonging are infinite for both children and leaders. 

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

One of the best things that Jay has taught me is that you become more powerful when you give your power away to others. Enabling others and watching them experience success has become the most rewarding part of leading others at Mini U. That, and getting to buy all the Lego. 

What is your favorite activity at Mini U?

Three-way tie = Dodgeball, Spikeball, Swimming. Please don’t make me chose.