Balancing Independence & Photos

My first time sending my son off to daycare at six months old, I was desperate for any photo evidence that he was alive. When the daycare staff texted photos that day, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and thought: “okay, he’s okay without me.”

The benefits of the summer camp experience for building resilience and independence in young people are incredible. In the last decade, I have noticed this experience becoming more and more rare. Where else can your child unplug from technology and be in a space with peers where all staff have undergone extensive background checks and training?

Since my first summer in 2011 as Director, we have posted photos online for camper parents. At first, photos were taken by staff with other primary responsibilities, and uploaded when time allowed. For me, this looked like walking around with a camera, and uploading photos after midnight in my office. We are careful about what photos we post, meaning staff have to look through every photo to insure no one is picking their nose (or other compromising positions). Because this was taking so much time, we hired a media specialist in 2019 to capture photos, upload them, and maintain our social media. Instead of teaching great classes to campers, this staff member spent time capturing photos, and rapidly uploading them to families.

We provide each cabin with a digital camera, so that they can capture candid moments, and have our media specialist edit those photos before uploading, to delete blurry images and respect privacy.

We posted over 200 photos per day. And still, families wanted MORE. Industry wide, this has been an issue for summer camps. In a Washington Post article from 2019, Drew Harwell found that: “Most camp directors said they appreciate that the photos can bring peace of mind to lonely parents worried about their kids’ first faraway solo trip. But the photos can also end up perpetuating a cycle of parental anxiety: The more photos the camp posts, the more the parents seem to want — and the more questions they’ll ask about their kids.”

Summer camp is one of the few places left in the world where children are expected to unplug — a cocoon for kids to develop real friendships, learn about themselves and get a first glimpse of the freedom and self-confidence they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. Will kids be robbed of that experience if they know it’s also being transmitted to family hundreds of miles away?

Katie Hurley, a child and adolescent psychotherapist said: “How can our kids ever learn to be autonomous when we’re always tracking and monitoring them? We want kids to embrace new experiences, to be great people, expand their social circles and take healthy risks. And we tamp down on them when we’re always over their shoulders, saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be watching.’ ”

In 2022, I would receive, on average, about 5 phone calls or emails per day of parents (not so gently) requesting photos of their camper. Immediately. If a photo was posted of a camper not smiling exuberantly enough, parents wanted complete context, and to talk to their child directly. When campers were asked “why weren’t you smiling in this photo”, they wouldn’t remember the incident, and would be rather embarrassed that their families had called camp over such a trivial issue.

In order to prioritize our mission (making camp an amazing place for your camper) we want to set clear expectations on photos for the summer. We will upload three times: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – sometime before 6PM EST. We will continue to provide photos, but we can’t promise hundreds of photos each day.

As a parent, I completely understand the fear an anxiety of being away from your unplugged child. If you want to know how your camper is doing, you can always give me a call (231) 652-1184.

– Jalisa Danhof, Camp Director
Jalisa spent her childhood (ages 7-16) as camper at a 4-H camp in Florida then held various counselor positions, and spent a decade here as the Program Director at Camp Newaygo. She has a degree in Camp Administration from Florida State University. Jalisa lives at Camp Newaygo year-round with her husband Michael and son Calvin. In addition to staffing, enrollment, program planning, outreach, and camp management duties, she is the national chair of the American Camp Association Emerging Professionals in Camping, and the Professional Development Chair for the Michigan Local Council of Camping Leaders.

2021 Summer Awards

Every summer we honor selected outstanding campers and staff. These awards are voted on by the summer staff and celebrated in the Log Book. Featured below are the award recipients from Summer 2021:

Rookie of The Year – Taisia Kalinina, a first-year staff member

Appreciation – Natalie Kreutz, a staff member or volunteer

Dedication – Angie Gornik, The highest honor given to a staff member or volunteer


Independence Day Grommets – Hannah Nagorski, Meg Dyke (Staff); Nora Brenner (Camper)
One outstanding Camper & Counselor given the grommets from our flag retirement ceremony

Independence Day Grommets – Hannah Nagorski, Meg Dyke (Staff); Nora Brenner (Camper)

July Torches –  Londyn Wallace and Sophie Fonte
Two campers (one from units & one from cabins) that light the final campfire of Session 4

July Torches –  Londyn Wallace and Sophie Fonte

August Lights – Faith: Fiona Bratton, Hope: Elaine (Ellie) Anderson, Love: Eliza Harris
Three campers (one from cabins, one from young units, and one from older units) that light the wishing boats for the ceremony

Faith: Fiona Bratton

Hope: Elaine (Ellie) Anderson

Love: Eliza Harris


Dedicator – Alyssa Divozzo
A Last-Year-Camper (LYC) who writes the staff award pages in the log book. The highest award you can earn as a camper

Dedicator – Alyssa Divozzo

Volunteer Awards

Program – Clara Priest
A volunteer who assists with Camp programs. Clara is originally from White Cloud, MI, and worked as a Day Camp Counselor and Waterfront Director at Camp Newaygo. After getting married and relocating back to Newaygo County, Clara volunteered weekly at camp driving wilderness trips, running errands, and helping camp with day-to-day tasks. 

Facility-  Jim Merkel
With a handy truck Jim took on the task of weekly cardboard pickups to help Camp Newaygo continue its commitment to recycling. He is a regular at volunteer days, holiday decorating events, and facility opening & closing seasonal tasks. He is a Newaygo County resident, and he and his wife Sandy enjoy coming out to Camp Newaygo for year-round events.

Admin- Kristin Paulson
For the past five summers, Kristin has spent a week at Camp Newaygo, volunteering as a Registered Nurse. As an emergency room nurse with two kids (both Camp Newaygo campers) she is calm under pressure, and a huge asset to assist the health office. During her volunteerism she also drives for wilderness trips, helps with daily tasks, and completes store runs.


Congratulations to these fantastic recipients for their achievement. The beautiful tradition of these awards is one of the pieces that makes Camp Newaygo such a special place.

95 Years Connected to Newaygo County

As Camp Newaygo celebrates 95 Years around the Campfire, we also are excited to reflect on those past decades as the community’s camp in Newaygo County. Throughout the year, we will be sharing stories from our history in this beautiful community both online and through TrueNorth’s quarterly publication-The Navigator. The Winter Edition included this piece about Camp’s connection with Newaygo philanthropist, William Branstrom.

Connections are what make Camp Newaygo a place dedicated to serving Newaygo County. We are proud to be the only locally owned and operated camp in the county as a community program hub of TrueNorth Community Services. Nearly 95 years ago, Camp Newaygo’s roots connect to a prominent community member of Newaygo County’s early history.

William Branstrom, a name you might recognize from Branstrom Park in Fremont, was a local philanthropist back in 1926. Branstrom’s community-minded generosity had a wide reaching impact through things like Branstrom Park as well as the Arboretum in Fremont and gifts that supported the Hesperia Library, in honor of his mother, Amelia S. Branstrom . His love of nature and giving spirit inspired his gift of the original land for Camp Newaygo. 

Nancy (Reber) Johnson remembers how her father and Mr. Branstrom would walk home for lunch from their law offices down main street in Fremont. The leisurely pace and conversation often left Nancy waiting on her lunch. It turns out that the Rebers and Branstroms weren’t just connected as neighbors. Nancy and her sister, Marge Salata, were some of the first campers to attend Camp Newaygo in those early years.

Thanks to early philanthropists like William Branstrom and local supporters today, Camp Newaygo will celebrate it’s 95th anniversary in 2021. Our traditional Girls’ overnight camp, Co-Ed Day Camp, environmental education programs, and community events build resilience and independence. As the community’s camp, we hope you find ways to connect with Camp Newaygo and that those who come to visit us from afar support the community we call home.

A Successful Summer – 2020 & COVID-19

In March of 2020, COVID-19 led to a complete shut down in the state of Michigan. Our Governor (Gretchen Whitmer, Camp Newaygo Alumni) ordered a stay at home order that lasted through June 1st. A task force was assembled to find a way to safely open summer camps in Michigan. Jane Vitek was able to serve on that committee, which gave the order to open overnight camps on June 26th.

Camp Newaygo never wavered in our pursuit to safely accomplish camp program. Nearly every summer camp in Michigan closed, or offered either virtual programs or limited day camps. 

Programmatic sacrifices had to be made. There was no Day Camp, no alumni, no weekly volunteers, no wilderness trips, and no weekend adventures off camp. But what we lost to mitigate risk was balanced by what we gained in taking on the challenge of running summer.

We had RIG time, with cabin choice sign ups that included Dungeons and Dragons with Peter, ballroom dancing with Alex and Emma, and gypsy witch cards with Charley. Emma’s adventures sent campers on the trolley, to a mud pit, and through a spy maze. Cabins and units bonded closer together, with so many new activities to sample. We spent more time outside than ever before, with nearly perfect (but hot) weather all summer.

Driving out of the gate of camp in August, many campers did not know what their future would hold. Schools toggle between in-person and virtual learning, and rising cases warn of future state lockdowns.

Camp Newaygo has remained a constant for our campers and staff – one star dependable and bright for wishing on. Spending seven weeks surrounded by woods, water, and laughter is a reminder of all that is good about the human experience.

In a time of so much uncertainty, it was reassuring to wave goodbye to campers and staff with the ever-constant farewell of: “See ya next summer.”


THINGS WE DID TO MAKE CAMP POSSIBLE:
  • Required every camper and staff to complete a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival at camp
  • Required all seasonal staff to stay on camp for the entire duration of summer (7 weeks)
  • Year-round staff were limited in interactions outside of the “camp bubble”
  • Facility staff (Shelby!) went above-and-beyond to make sure camp had adequate cleaning and sanitization supplies EVERYWHERE
  • Check-in and Check-out became contactless, with families staying inside their car for the process
  • Counselors stayed in their assigned co-pairing for the summer, whenever possible
  • Cabin and unit groups stayed together for all activities, with a new schedule we called “the grid”
  • Campers and staff had their temperatures checked twice daily
  • Two summer-long volunteers (Jelanie and Bridget) completed all store runs and grub hub dinners for staff
  • No off-site trips were able to be done, under restrictions from the state of Michigan. Unit campers completed overnight wilderness trips on camp property, in individual tents.
  • Spread out all programming, with marked squares on the tennis courts, dock seating for ceremonies, and LOTS of rotation-station evening programs.
  • Counselors sanitized bathrooms between every use
It seemed like an insurmountable challenge to run camp the summer of 2020. But we were determined to do whatever needed to be done to give the campers an amazing experience. We are excited to plan summer 2021, with the strength & knowledge we gained in summer 2020.

 

– Jalisa Danhof, Camp Director
Jalisa spent her childhood (ages 7-16) as camper at a 4-H camp in Florida then held various counselor positions, and spent a decade here as the Program Director at Camp Newaygo. She has a degree in Camp Administration from Florida State University. Jalisa lives at Camp Newaygo year-round with her husband Michael and son Calvin. In addition to staffing, enrollment, program planning, outreach, and camp management duties, she is the national chair of the American Camp Association Emerging Professionals in Camping, and the the Professional Development Chair for the Michigan Local Council of Camping Leaders.

2020 Summer Awards

Every summer we honor selected outstanding campers and staff. These awards are voted on by the summer staff and celebrated in the Log Book. Featured below are the award recipients from Summer 2020:

Rookie of The Year – Katy Pickens A first-year staff member

Appreciation – Nurse Carlene & Alex Kuske A staff member or volunteer

Dedication – Sylvie Isaac The highest honor given to a staff member or volunteer

Independence Day Grommets – Hannah Sharp & Julie Ashbaugh
One outstanding Camper & Counselor given the grommets from our flag retirement ceremony

Grommets – Hannah Sharp & Julie Ashbaugh

July Torches –  Louisa Cowen & Alex Farley
Two campers (one from units & one from cabins) that light the final campfire of Session 4

Louisa Cowen, July Torch

Alex Farley, July Torch

August Lights – Annie Poch, Lauren Jeffery, & Ella Best
Three campers (one from cabins, one from young units, and one from older units) that light the wishing boats for the ceremony

Light of Faith – Annie Poch

Light of Hope – Lauren Jeffery

Light of Love – Ella Best


Dedicator – Carrie Nielsen
A Last-Year-Camper (LYC) who writes the staff award pages in the log book. The highest award you can earn as a camper

Dedicator – Carrie Nielsen

Volunteer Awards

Program – Bridget Fitzpatrick
A volunteer who assists with Camp programs. Bridget, who lives in Columbus, OH, worked remotely for the duration of the summer on Lake Pickerel. She was at camp daily – driving the speedboat, dressing up for evening programs, and facilitating camp staff store runs to ensure safe quarantine. 

Admin- Jelanie Bush
Jelanie adhered to strict summer COVID-19 protocols in order to help at camp. During check-in and check-out days, she answered the phones. She did mail runs, proofed camper letters, and made camp life easier – taking on any task asked of her.


Congratulations to these fantastic recipients for their achievement. The beautiful tradition of these awards is one of the pieces that makes Camp Newaygo such a special place.

Camper, Staff, and Volunteer Awards 2019

Every summer we honor selected outstanding campers and staff. These awards are voted on by the summer staff and celebrated in the Log Book. Featured below are the award recipients from Summer 2019:

Rookie of The Year – Laura Schouman
A first-year staff member

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appreciation – Nate Good
A staff member or volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication – Nurse Sue
The highest honor given to a staff member or volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Independence Day Grommets – Jessica Dockery and Mykynna Manor
One outstanding Camper & Counselor given the grommets from our flag retirement ceremony
 

 

 

 

 

July Torches –  Danielle Kostyuk & Frannie Boyle
Two campers (one from units & one from cabins) that light the final campfire of Session 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August Lights – Elise Bradley, Kira Boyd, Annabel Bee
Three campers (one from cabins, one from young units, and one from older units) that light the wishing boats for the ceremony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicator – Hannah Cunningham
A Last-Year-Camper (LYC) who writes the staff award pages in the log book. The highest award you can earn as a camper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Volunteer Awards

Program – Sarah Kane
A volunteer who assists with Camp programs. Sarah was a daily summer volunteer, driving for camping trips and helping make camp possible, and is a member of our Advisory Board

Admin- Sarah Harris
Sarah serves as a member of our advisory board. This year she helped frame artwork for the new Health and Leadership Lodge with her work at The Nines Gallery & Framing Studio.


Congratulations to these fantastic recipients for their achievement. The beautiful tradition of these awards is one of the pieces that makes Camp Newaygo such a special place.

The Culture of Camp Newaygo

I get asked all the time by parents – so, what makes Camp Newaygo different from other camps?

Sure we have amazing facilities, our staff are incredible, and our traditions run deep. But the first thing that comes to mind is the unique culture of Camp Newaygo.

Our formal mission statement is: “Camp Newaygo fosters exploration, creativity and cooperation among individuals and communities in the natural environment”.

Many years back we took a tip from Simon Sinek and created our WHY statement: Because every child deserves a safe place to become their best self.

And that’s the heart of it. Camp is a place to become your best self. A former camper once said “camp taught me to love myself for who I am, not who I thought I was supposed to be”.

Camp Newaygo welcomes all. All personalities, backgrounds, beliefs, passions. The compassionate community created by our staff and returning campers is like a safety net saying: go ahead, be as weird as you want, we will still love you.

Our goals for campers start with RIG – Respect, Independance, and Grit. We hope campers (and staff) gain these things while at camp. We also measure how well we do at developing these skills through our long-term partnership with Radford University. You can read all about our research HERE.

So what makes us different than other camps? I feel like Camp Newaygo truly lives and breathes its mission. An accepting, inclusive space for campers and staff to discover themselves, and love what they find.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” ~Henry David Thoreau

I would not be the person I am today without Camp Newaygo. Camp has provided me with the confidence to live the life I have imagined. I have often said I would not have made the decision to go to Siena College in New York without having been to camp. With all that I have gained I camp, I have decided to take on my next adventure: The Appalachian Trail. In March, I will be starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia heading north with a long-time, camp friend, Emily. It is a bittersweet announcement as it means my time as a Camp Newaygo employee is coming to an end, but I am excited for the next phase of my life, hiking the trail, and embracing being a Camp Alumni.

I learned my love of the outdoors at camp. I was on my first canoe trip down the Pere Marquette River as a camper in Tinuwen. In a canoe with my best friend Katie, we had just made it through dreaded “Rainbow Rapids” with a few minor struggles. We turned the river bend and the world was quiet. I learned two things in that moment: first, I loved canoeing, and second, there is a peacefulness in the woods that I had not found anywhere else. As a camper and staff, trips were always my favorite part, I love stumbling upon those moments of serenity and sharing them with the people around me. On the Appalachian Trail, I will get to live in those moments every day. I am so thankful to Camp Newaygo for my love of the outdoors.

I hope all the best for Camp Newaygo as it brings in new positions and continues to grow confidence in its campers and staff. I am counting down the days until I can bring my nephew to Mom and Me, and until the 95th reunion. This is in no way my final trip down M-37. I cherish all the friends and memories I am lucky enough to have from my time at camp. Thank you for letting me spend the last 18 summers on the shores of Lake Pickerel.

When I am gone, may my song linger on. May its echoes fall soft on your ears, may we all live in peace and our friendships increase. Happiness grows through the years my friend, happiness grows through the years.

 

 

 

“Memories that Linger”, a Quilt for Camp Newaygo

Annie, one of my oldest and dearest friends, and her sister Ellen commissioned me to make a wall-hanging for the newly renovated and expanded lodge at Camp Newaygo, in Newaygo County, Western Michigan, near where we grew up.

Camp is very important and dear to Annie and Ellen–all the women and girls in their family for three generations have gone there. Thousands of girls who have attended since its founding in 1926 feel the same strong love and gratitude for camp as they do.

I myself went to a similar camp north of Newaygo, called Camp Arbutus. This cabin, Slide Inn, was my perch above the lake as a complicated 12 year old who found peace in the woods, and also as a much more complicated college-aged counselor at age 19.

Until Annie and Ellen hired me for the commission, I was oblivious as to how this reinvention of Camp Newaygo was made possible. I certainly didn’t know how much it involved my own father. Nor did I anticipate how my old friendship with Annie would be reinvigorated with such beautiful love by this place and this project.

When I was asked to make a wall hanging for the newly refurbished and expanded lodge at Camp Newaygo, the first thing I had to know was where it would hang. I love site specific design very much, and my design process was going to be based on the location of my piece.

I traveled to Michigan and got to stay with my old friend Annie, and she took me to camp for a tour. Though I have years of happy camp memories from my youth, I had never been to Camp Newaygo.
I needed some real time visuals, not wanting to work from someone else’s photos.

I also knew that I wanted the focus to be a very iconic image from camp. The lakefront with the dock and all the canoes? A campfire? The path through their wetlands?
All good but no….it had to be the cabins, the oldest ones there, built when the camp was founded in the late 1920s.

When I think of the hundreds and hundreds of girls who have called these cabins home, in that special girl-power reality that is camp…all the friendships, the fun, the longing inherent in those adolescent years, (and the concomitant endearing and exquisite dramas)–and most of all, when I remember my own growth and happiness within the rustic outdoor world that made camp so special….I just knew this was my scene.

I asked Anne and Ellen to choose a phrase that would be meaningful to everyone connected with camp. I like words on quilts. After what I am told was a serious and protracted family discussion, they chose a phrase from a favorite camp song, “Witchcraft”. We used to sing that same song at Camp Arbutus. Memories that linger/Constant and true was their most excellent choice.

The focus, heart and soul of this project for Camp Newaygo is the grouping of these three old cabins. They are driving the entire piece, so I wanted to “build” them first. I was constantly referring to the printed photograph I am basing this composition upon, using that slick lighted magnifying glass to peer as closely as I could into the actual construction details, especially of the railings and the steps. I really want this to read properly. The eyes of my future viewers will catch anything false!

 

 

I started roughing in the woods behind the cabins, the yard area in front, and the trees of course. When the background woods were finished, I began to add all the foreground leaves. The upper banner is in place, against a beautiful sky hand dyed by Stacy Mitchell of Shades Textiles.http://www.shadestextiles.co/

 

 

The scarves you see in the picture have great significance at Camp Newaygo. Each color represents a specific group of campers, according to age. You are presented with your scarf when camp begins, and hand it on at the end of camp. The camp’s director gave me one of each scarf to incorporate into the quilt. When I asked what order they should be in, she made a spreadsheet!I made the colors overlap each other a little, to symbolize how a girl makes transitions as she grows up.

I ironed the facings to the back and whip stitched them into place by hand. Luckily, my Dodgers are on a winning streak this June, so watching some games while I handstitched was great.

No quilt is complete without its label. This one has a little story…. My friend Anne, who with her sister commissioned this quilt, sent me a shirt while I was working on the quilt. When we were 19 years old (over 40 years ago), I had snuck it out of her closet, embroidered it, and mailed it back to her for her birthday, which is in the fall. She wondered if I could include any of the embroidery in the quilt. I did include a bit of it in the label…and the fabric with the writing on it is from the shirt as well.

The very final step was attaching cording to my finished edge. I wanted to add that final definition to my composition.

The quilt was installed and unveiled at Camp Newaygo last week. What a thrill that was! It was very moving for me, to see the quilt hanging in its forever home, looking like it had always been there. Every time campers or conferees or wedding guests (all people who use the lodge) go down the stairs to the rest rooms, they will see it! 😉 This space gets no direct sunlight so the quilt should hang there safely for many years.

The song sung at camps all over the US, that inspired my quilt:
“If there were witchcraft, I’d make two wishes,
a winding road that beckons me to roam,
and then I’d wish for a blazing campfire,
to welcome me when I’m returning home.
But, in this real world there is no witchcraft and golden wishes do no grow on trees.
Our fondest day dreams must be the magic that brings us back those golden memories.
Memories that linger, constant and true,
memories we cherish, Newaygo of you”

Guest Blog by: Allie Aller
Allison Aller has been stitching, sewing, knitting, and writing since she was a child….and that child is alive and well in the joyful work she creates today in the field of crazy quilting and now, stained glass quilting too. Now she has turned her attention to stained glass quilts, with her new book, Allie Aller’s Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined: Fresh Techniques and Design.

Her work has appeared in Quilters Newsletter Magazine, American Quilter, the $100,000 Quilt Challenge, Needlepoint Now, and the Way to Womens Wellness Art Bra Calendars (cover, 2007), as “guest artist” in several books, and in her own Allie Aller’s Crazy Quilting, C & T Publishing, 2011. Quilts…A Little Bit Crazy, co-authored with fellow crazy quilter Valerie Bothell, was published in May 2014.

Follow her blog and connect with her at: http://alliesinstitches.blogspot.com

Leave To Serve

This summer I spent the majority of my time as an LIT or Leader in Training at Camp Newaygo, a girls residence camp in Newaygo MI. As an LIT,  I worked as a counselor, taught classes, and helped make the camp experience special for the girls who attended. I myself am a long-time camper and the progression from camper to counselor seemed the most obvious path to me. I was very excited to go and the night before I left I laid awake dreaming of what being a counselor would be like.

But being a counselor was much different than I thought it would be. For one thing, it was a lot of work. I was in almost constant motion. Teaching classes, cleaning the cabin, setting up for new sessions, picking my girls up from their classes and dropping them off at the next ones, sweeping and wiping up spills, and setting up tables, and doing odd jobs that needed to be done. At first it was tiring,  but as the summer progressed I found I liked it; I liked to feel helpful. Even the less glamorous aspects of camp, like cleaning up after a camper when she had an accident in her sleeping bag were rewarding in their own ways. I liked to feel useful and like I was making a difference at camp.

The biggest change from camper to counselor though was the change in mentality. As a camper, camp revolves around you, your interests and dislikes, but as a counselor I had to be a lot more selfless. I had to put my girls and other counselors first. Yet, I found I enjoyed helping others and making them happy. I found that it was so rewarding to help a camper succeed. For example, my first week as a camp counselor I had a very sweet camper who was struggling to fit in with the other girls, yet by the end of the week with encouragement and gentle pushing she had become much more social and was making an effort to interact with the other girls. Her victory filled me with pride and joy; it was so rewarding to have helped her succeed.

Camp made me a better person. It made me more brave and confident in myself. It taught me the true essence of leadership: that to be a good leader I had to do what was best for those I was leading even at my own expense. Camp forced me to not take myself so seriously and have fun through silly skits I had to perform, ridiculous costumes I had to wear, and mistakes I made that I had to recover from. The mistakes I made kept me humble and reminded me that even though I had been going to camp for years, I by no means knew everything there was to know. The other counselors were always encouraging and accepting of my flaws which allowed me to take risks and grow without fear of rejection. This supportive environment has always been one of the most attractive things about camp to me and as a counselor the feelings of love, support, and appreciation were deepened.

The lessons of bravery, humility, selflessness, kindness, supportiveness and more that I learned this year at camp are ones which I have been learning throughout my years as a camper – now solidified as a counselor. I hope to bring all these qualities into my senior year of high school and further –  to college, to jobs I will work, and even to my own family someday. Camp has truly impacted my life and hopefully will continue to influence me for years to come.

-Guest blog by Audrey Patterson, an L.I.T. from summer 2018. Audrey is a senior at West Catholic High School. She is a member of r the West Catholic Peer Ministry Team, Choir, and attendee of the Kent Technical Center Early Health Careers program.