This Old House – a Great Partner

Donna Friar has been involved with Camp Newaygo for 35 years. Her daughter was on the Camp Newaygo Youth Advisory Council as a camper, and eventually worked as a counselor. Now, Donna’s granddaughter attends Camp Newaygo each summer. Donna served on the Camp Newaygo Advisory Board, and has volunteered year-round for events and programs.

Donna has owned “This Old House” Antiques for 16 years. The consignment shop is located in downtown Newaygo. In 2009 Donna’s friend gave her the idea of consignment donations. In this partnership, a seller can donate the item, and once sold, a portion of the profit goes to a charity.

With Donna’s love of Camp Newaygo – this seemed like a perfect fit to support the program.

Now, Camp Newaygo receives monthly checks from This Old House Antiques.

Donna would encourage any camp supporters to consider out-of-the box ways to give back to Camp Newaygo.

This Old House Antiques was founded in 2001, and is located at 47 State Rd in Newaygo. Additional information is available at or by contacting Donna Friar at (231) 652-2808.

New Team Member – Scott

Scott Lakin was hired on at Camp Newaygo this month, as a year-round Program Director for Community Events and Volunteerism.

Scott is a native Michigander, with a master’s in architecture from Detroit Mercy. When earning his degree, Scott found that the creative process is an important skill for young people to learn. He was drawn to positive youth development, and after graduating, worked for Michigan State Extension managing programs with youth throughout the state.

His love of camping began when he attended scout camps as a child. He worked six seasons for a small camp in Cadillac as a cabin counselor, and eventually the summer director.

He heard about Camp Newaygo through a job advertisement with the American Camp Association. As a second Program Director, Scott will focus on how Camp Newaygo can thrive within our local community. He will build our community events, volunteer network, and local partnerships year-round.

This summer, Scott will serve as our Waterfront Director. He is excited to make the waterfront a safe place to make great memories. He can’t wait to refresh his sailing skills, hone his stand-up paddleboarding posture, and finally master windsurfing.

His favorite Camp Song is Ham Bone (which he will teach this summer), but he also loves the Moose/Juice song.

His favorite part of the job, so far, has been planning for summer during long drives for recruitment.

Scott is thoughtful, enthusiastic, and creative.

He came to work at Camp Newaygo, because he feels that everyone has a story, and everyone matters (a thought inspired by his Aunt, Candy Lakin).

We are so thrilled to have Scott on our team – and we can’t wait for you to meet him!

Research at Camp Newaygo

For less than $600 per year, you can invest in your daughter’s growth and maturity by becoming more resilient, more self-confident and ensure her independence for a successful college experience.

Camp Newaygo can have an enormous impact on youth. We know that the work we do can positively affect campers, long-after their experience.

Resiliency Study

In 2014, we began a partnership with Radford University, to show that impact with real numbers. Our first camper study was completed in the summer of 2014.


Camp Alumni Study

In 2016 we completed a study with our Camp Alumni at our 90th Reunion.

The purpose of this study was to examine if Camp Newaygo promotes college readiness skills in female alumnae.  Using a retrospective analysis approach alumnae were asked to report whether they felt camp impacted their educational choices and the extent to which certain skills (related to college readiness) were impacted by their experience.

  • Participants were recruited during a reunion in the summer of 2016.
  • 59 women completed a survey.
  • Participants were asked a series of Likert scale questions, one forced choice question and one open-ended question.

Camp Newaygo Results:

  • Camp Newaygo offers opportunities for girls to gain skills relevant to college
  • Open-ended responses support the outcomes of the percentage reported with Independence/Self-Reliance as the main theme.

College Readiness Study

We’re currently working on an ongoing research on Developing College Readiness Skills at Camp.

The purpose of this study is to examine if Camp Newaygo promotes college readiness skills in campers.  Campers entering 11th grade were studied in 2016, with a pre-and post test during their camp experience. A follow-up study will be completed when the girls are freshman in college, after their first semester. The Camp Newaygo girls will be studied against a group of freshman at Radford University, who did not attend camp.

This is the first ever study done to research college readiness skills through camp. We’re excited to publish ongoing results, to show the amazing impact camp can have on youth.

Why Research?

We hear stories of impact from campers and parents constantly. But we think it’s important to show the value of camp in concrete numbers. For instance, if we told you that:

For less than $600 per year, you could invest in your daughter becoming more resilient, increase her self-confidence, and ensure that she is independent enough to be successful in college 

…Wouldn’t that be worth budgeting into your family’s summer? We think so. And that’s why research is important. We want to show that camp is more than just songs and friendship bracelets. It’s a unique opportunity to grow youth into more successful people.


Arts and Crafts Shop Renovation

The renovation for the Arts and Crafts shop is in full swing!




  • Current building no longer supports our growing number of campers and programs operating simultaneously.
  • Built in 1949 for summer use only, a year-round facility is needed to expand programming.
  • Additional space needed for increased number of camper requests for arts and crafts programs.


  • Expand the building to include increased program and storage space.
  • Include the designated pottery and photography spaces.
  • Maintain the integrity of the 1949 historic camp building.
  • Winterize the building to include a restroom, insulation, heat, and new high efficiency windows

Step 1: Empty the Craft Shop

Untitled design (3)


Step 2: Create the expansion (which includes basement)


Craft Shop


Step 3: Add Walls & A Roof

Untitled design (1)

Untitled design (2)

Step 4: Close In The Expansion


Step 5: Insulate

Step 6: Shiplap!

More Exciting Steps Coming Soon!



Camper & Staff Awards of 2016

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 2016:

Rookie of The Year – Emma Kuske
A first-year staff member


Appreciation – Caitlin Shannahan
A staff member or volunteer


Dedication – Jackie Charette
The highest honor given to a staff member or volunteer


Independence Day Grommets – Rachel Westgate & Bronwen Mcdonagh
One outstanding Camper & Counselor given the grommets from our flag retirement ceremony


July Torches – Jane Tresco & Mia Peterson
Two campers (one from cabins and one from units) that light the final campfire of Session 4


August Lights – Lauren Clegg, Elise Steketee, Lindsay Eisenhour
Three campers (one from cabins, one from young units, and one from older units) that light the wishing boats for the ceremony

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


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

Homesick & Happy

After dropping off your child at camp, it can be hard to patiently wait for the first letter from your daughter. But what if you get one that reads like this:

Dear Mom and Dad,
Camp is terriabl. I am homesick almost every minnut. I tried evrything, and nothing works. I need to come home rite now! Please, please, please come and get me today!
Love, Susie

First – don’t panic. In a study by Dr. Chris Thurber, THE expert on homesickness, he found that a whopping 83 percent of the campers studied reported homesickness on at least one day of camp.

Secondly – please CALL camp and make us aware of the situation, which we are probably well aware of. And how do we handle homesickness?


  1. Prevent.
    This is the step where we can partner with parents.

    • Encourage your daughter’s independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend’s house, can simulate the camp environment.
    • Discuss what camp will be like before your daughter leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
    • Camp Newaygo has a no-phone-calls policy – tell your daughter you will honor it. Sending your child with a cell phone prevents independence, shows a lack of respect for camp rules, and also doesn’t allow us to help solve any problems. We’ve had parents show up in the dead of night because campers texted them desperate homesick messages. When the parents arrived, the camper actually FORGOT she texted them and was fast asleep.
    • Send emails to your camper. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss her For example, you can say “I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp.”
    • Under no circumstances should parents ever make a “pick-up deal”. Promising that “if you don’t like it, I’ll come pick you up” reduces the child’s likelihood of success. This promise says: “I have so little confidence in your ability to cope with this normal response to separation that I believe the only solution is for me to rescue you.”The deal plants the seeds of homesickness by giving campers the expectation that they will not like the new place. It prevents development of effective coping by pointing children toward an escape route. And it paralyzes counselors/leaders who, after enthusiastic support and coaching, may be faced with a child who says, “My parents said that if I didn’t like it here, they would come to get me.” Parents are then faced with 2 equally unsatisfactory choices: (1) fulfill their promise, pick the child up, and deprive him or her of a wonderful opportunity to grow and develop; or (2) renege on their promise and suffer an erosion of trust in their relationship with the child. 

      2. Problem-Solve
      When a camper tells a counselor she is feeling homesick, the first thing a counselor does is console her and allow her to express her feelings. We tell campers homesickeness is perfectly normal, and nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. We coach campers through strategies to overcome the situation. We encourage them to join into activities (like classes, evening programs). We help them write a letter home. We buddy them up with a new friend. We focus them on the positives and ask them to think about all the reasons they like camp. We continue to follow up with campers and encourage them to ask for help if they are feeling sad.

      3. Partner with Parents
      If a child isn’t able to overcome homesickness on her own, you will get a call from me – (Jalisa). Don’t let this call scare you. What we have found is that girls who feel they have no way to connect to home and let them know something is wrong, feel out of control and desperate. We offer to make a call home for the child. We will explain the severity of homesickness, and ask for a special “pep-talk” we can pass along to the camper. Something along the lines of “Home is SO boring. Your brother is being EVEN MORE annoying than usual and we are eating that Tai food that you HATE” We find that as soon as we pass on this encouraging message from mom/dad, the camper feels SO much better. Just to know that parents support them and that home will still be the same after camp is a huge comfort. What we don’t do – is let campers call home. Why? Because hearing mom’s voice is going to make them feel WORSE. Really. Research proves it. And can you imagine, getting a call from your precious child – sobbing on the other line, BEGGING you to come get her. Could you hold up under that pressure? We don’t want you to have to go through that. That’s what we’re trained to handle, and we are happy to help your amazing child gain independence and skills for life.

      4. Provide An Example
      So what kind of email do you send when you receive that heartbreaking homesick letter? Try this:

      Dear Susie,
      I just got off the phone with Jalisa from Camp Newaygo. She said that she made a promise to you that she would call me and tell me everything you told her and you hoped I would pick you up from camp. Jalisa did tell me you were homesick and cried because you were missing me. My heart is very sad that you’re feeling this way and I want you to know how much I love you and I will always love you. Also, you need to know that I totally understand. Although I didn’t go to camp, I did leave my family and friends for an entire year when I backpacked around the world! I missed my mom, dad and friends so much. But I decided I had a choice – I could either swallow my homesickness and make a huge effort to enjoy it, or I could go home and never get to experience what it felt like to conquer my fears and meet new friends, try adventures and see exciting places. I’m not going to pick you up. You are a strong, independent, fun loving, kind girl. You will get through this and I PROMISE you within a day or so, you will be loving every second of camp. The best way to overcome feeling homesick is to stay as busy as you can. Try every activity that you can and realize that this is such a fantastic opportunity for you. Plus, it is HOT and boring right now here. I’m at work all day and you’d be bored silly if you were here. I’m also so happy that you’ve been able to try Paddleboarding. Did you enjoy that? Please let me know every fun activity you do and all about your fun friends you’ve met. I promise to write you every day. You will have a whole slew of emails coming! Be strong, have fun and know that I am so very proud of you and love you very much!!!! Now…chin up, big smile and get to your next activity! I will see you on closing day.
      I Love you,


      You are always MORE than welcome to call camp, simply for an update on your child. You have entrusted us with your most prized possession, and we take that honor very seriously. And always remember – no news is good news. If you don’t get a letter from your camper, it probably ended up in the river after canoeing, or fell out of her pocket on the zipline, or maybe she was too busy making lifelong friends to sit down long enough to write your address.

      We handle homesickness everyday at Camp Newaygo. We believe campers can be Homesick AND Happy, and gain lifetime skills at Newaygo.


10 Questions to Ask Your Camper on the Way Home From Camp

On the way home from camp, make sure to ask your Camp Newaygo girl all these questions:

1. What friends did you make?
One of the best parts of any summer camp experience is the chance to make friends with kids you wouldn’t normally meet. We’ve got campers from all over the world. We love when campers gain friendships that can last a lifetime.

2. Will you sing me a camp song?
Prepare to be blown away. Bonus points if you learn one yourself.

3. What was the craziest thing that happened at Evening Program?
From Battle of the Bands to Sponge Wars – there’s always something wild going on at night around Camp Newaygo.

4. How was the food?
From pancakes to taco Tuesdays, our camp food can meet even the pickiest eater’s expectations.

5. Where did you go on your overnight?
All of our campers sleep in a tent for at least one night during the week. Ask your camper all about her overnight. What did you cook over a fire? What games did you play?

6. Did you try anything new?
We love getting kids outside. We love getting kids outside their comfort zones even more. It is such a valuable learning experience to try something that might scare you a little bit. Campers spend their week with us doing activities that are often new to them, going places they’ve never been, and building skills and confidence that will stick with them long after summer ends.

7. What classes did you take, and which one was your favorite?
Campers have SO MANY choices here at Camp Newaygo. Your camper might discover she is a pottery pro, or windsurfing wiz here at camp.

8. What is the Riggidy Jig Song?
Campers do their own dishes here at camp. They also make their own beds, help try to win cleanest cabin, and clean up during activities.

9. What were the staff/counselors like?
We have staff from all over the world. Our counselors are goofy, fun, caring, and engaging.

10. What will you miss most about Camp Newaygo?
And then make sure they know that we will miss them, too!

90 and Thriving!

This past weekend alumni from all over the United States gathered at Camp Newaygo for a weekend of fun, sun and memories.

Former campers and staff were able to relive their best camp memories including Sing-on-the-Lake, Wishing Boats, and Weldon ceremonies.


Here’s how Teep, a treasured camp alumni, described the reunion:
“On this special birthday weekend campers were reliving their memories, falling  asleep to the sounds of owls, bullfrogs and crickets, seeing the moon light up the night sky, singing the camp songs at the top of their lungs, and soaking in that wonderfully unique feeling that comes with being at camp.  Their camp.

Despite the many years separating their times at this magical place there exists a strong connectedness forged by their common experiences while there.  Connections born out of traditions. Wishing Boats, Sing on the Lake, reflections at Walden, Serenade….memories of experiences that bridged any difference in age.

This week, back at their own homes, work, and families, the women from the Reunion are probably still humming camp songs as they go about their lives as judges, doctors, teachers, moms and grandmas.
And smiling.”

Mary Wilner, a 1970’s alumni, rode the zipline for the first time, and said “Camp Newaygo is still giving me the courage and confidence to try things out of my comfort zone.”


The weekend was celebrated with a banquet titled “Standing on the Shoulders of Those Who Came Before Us.” Bev Cassidy was honored, a former camp director from 1977-1989. The new camp property was named “Cassidy Point” to show appreciation for her years of dedication to Camp Newaygo.


Our current Camp Newaygo staff are already counting down the years to the 100th Alumni Reunion in 2026.

Remember me Newaygo, I’m coming back someday.

Overnight Camp is Package Free

While Camp Newaygo has long held a very relaxed policy on packages, in recent years we have noticed packages causing a growing rate of negative side effects. The subject of packages, including who was receiving them and what was in them, began causing jealousy and unnecessary competition, as well as an influx of excessive and wasted “stuff” that hampered the camp experience. In efforts to celebrate the unique, simplistic lifestyle that camp allows and to promote unity within the camp family, Camp Newaygo is going package-free. We encourage you to use creative ways of interacting with your camper through non-package letters this summer, such as including word puzzles, a comic clipping from the newspaper, riddles and pictures.

Now, for the fine print: If you need to send an essential item that was forgotten at home, such as a retainer, glasses, or a spare inhaler, please send them labeled Attn: Jalisa Danhof and we will be sure the item gets to your camper. If a camper’s birthday occurs during camp, she may receive a food-and candy-free package for their birthday. Please mark “Birthday!” clearly on the package and send it Attn: Jalisa Danhof. In BOTH of these cases, please call camp ahead of time, so we will be expecting an approved camper package.

Any other packages sent to campers will be returned to the sender unopened. Please be sure to share this information with family and friends who may be planning to send packages! Packages are any items received in the mail other than regular flat envelope (Up to the size of a flat “6 X 9” envelope). This policy also applies to packages brought on check-in day. Campers with special food needs can still bring a small bag with snack items, which we will store in the kitchen.

We realize that changes at camp can cause stress, but we want to assure our camp families that this new policy was a result of a serious problems in our camp community:

  1. Most packages only contained one thing: junk food.pile-o-candyThe average camper package was comprised of sugar filled treats and snacks. As our camper population grew, the number of junk-food filled packages grew, and we do not have an adequate place to store them. The packages were attracting raccoon and other critters into cabins and tents, because campers and staff were overwhelmed with STUFF. At the camp store, we are able to limit camper’s candy consumption, by only allowing two treats a day. There was not limit on the candy they could receive in a package. We will continue to offer candy in our camp store (all for $1 or less) and will will move our snack time to early afternoon, so that campers who do not visit the store have a healthy afternoon snack option.

2. Some campers felt homesick and jealous after NOT receiving packages.

Girl being left out

Many of our camp families do not have the ability to send an expensive care package, or they choose not to. Some campers felt left out they were not getting care packages, and experienced homesickness.

3. The waste was overwhelming.

Portland-based GO Box, a service that provides and cleans reusable take-out boxes for local food trucks, hopes to keep some of the city's food waste from going in the dumpster.

Most of what was sent to camp ends up in the trash. Camp Newaygo is always trying to be a responsible environmental ambassador, and packages were not environmentally friendly.

Many camps these days are package-free, so going in this direction is in line with existing camp industry trends. And those camps universally agree that no packages is a positive move for camp, campers, and parents.

Your letter or postcard is more than enough to encourage, uplift, and connect your child to home while leaving her free to “get away from it all,” — including from toys, gifts, and just all the “stuff” from the modern, commercialized world.

We believe you will find this a painless policy change and may even be glad to have one more thing off of your “feeling obligated,” list. When your camper gets away from it all, it’s also a time for parents to have a lighter load!

As always if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me. I’d be happy to answer any of your concerns.

My Son’s Extraordinary Summer

My son has the kind of summer that you dream about.  He goes swimming every day.  He canoes across the lake to get ice-cream.  Practices archery and zip lines through the trees.  Once a week he gets to camp out with his buddies and on one very special night, he sleeps at the zoo.  He has made friends he will keep for life and memories that will comfort him when he is old.  It is the type of summer I wish I had and am beyond grateful that I can give him, especially since I am a working mother.  It is the type of summer where dreams come true and it is only made possible because of Camp Newaygo.


For the past 3 years, my son Brody has attended Camp Newaygo’s coed Day Camp.  It starts the end of June and goes through the middle of August.  Every week the theme is different, with a wide variety of options.  This year he is most excited about Star Wars week, although Wild About Animals is a close second.  I drop him off at 8am with his backpack and lunch and pick him up at 5pm with a smile on his face and stories to tell, and maybe a few bug bites.  Some of my friends have commented about how expensive this must be, but honestly, it is the same cost as daycare in Newaygo County.  Who wouldn’t pick camp over daycare?


Brody, like most children, was a little nervous at the beginning of camp.  I can remember the first day of camp, we had no idea what we were doing.  I signed him in, walked him over to the other kids and hugged him goodbye.  I could see the trepidation in his eyes, but before I had even made it to the car, a camp counselor had pulled him into a group and began working on an art project.  He didn’t even watch me go.


Our house is filled with a multitude of memories from the different weeks of camp.  My personal favorite is the marshmallow shooter.  Brody has a yellow handkerchief that he bought from the camp store.  I am not allowed to wash it just so that he can smell camp throughout the year.  As summer time approaches, the countdown isn’t “How many more days of school?” it’s “How many more days till camp!!!”


This summer Camp Newaygo has added an additional week for a total of 9 amazing weeks of camp.  They kick off with Disney week and end with Survivor.  With so many options, I am sure there is at least one week your child would love.  So my advice, from one parent to another, is send your children to Camp Newaygo for a week they will never forget.

DSCN6824  DSCN6833 DSCN6852


You can check out more about Camp Newaygo’s Day Camp: HERE

-Shannon Carpenter, Proud Day Camp Mom