Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Camp Okutta

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My neighbours are looking at summer camps for their kids. I saw a brochure in Port Dover for Camp Okutta and picked it up to take to them.

Billed as an adventure camp for kids 8-12, Camp Okutta's marketting tag is: 'What are your kids doing this summer? If they like video games, they'll love real weapons.'
Inside the brochure are cheerful drawings of pine trees and cabins, and AK-47s. And grenades. And land mines. The registration process is easy: 'We will collect your children when it suits us best. Openings come up when kids are injured or killed. We usually pick up new children on the way home from school so parents don't intervene and cause unnecessary bloodshed.'
Get it yet? It draws you in, then smacks you in the face, wondering what twisted version of reality this is.
It is, in fact, a brochure for War Child Canada. The back panel states: 'Camp Okutta does not exist. But camps like it exist all over the world. Every day children are trained for war, fight in war, and die in war. There are an estimated 250,000 children being used as soldiers right now. We would never stand for it here. So why are we letting it happen there?'
Hats off to whoever created such a brilliant brochure. I've got a bunch of school talks coming up - I'll contact War Child to get these brochures to hand out.
More information on War Child can be found at

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis is the acclaimed author of over 18 books and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Vicky Metcalfe Award for a body of work, the Governor General’s Award, the Africana Book Award, the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Honour, and the Red Cedar Award. She has traveled the world to meet with and hear the stories of children marginalized by war, illness, and poverty, and has recorded their stories for others to read and learn from.

Go to Deborah Ellis’s Author Page