“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.