Ellen began the evening by playing a few bars of the song ‘Country Roads’. Then she asked, “What happens when you hear this song? My guess is you have memories of sitting around a camp fire, in the woods, roasting marshmallows, feeling the warmth from the fire and the comfort of being with your closest buddies. As you know, many of us are missing those camp days and evenings. And boy, do we hope they can happen again!” She set the tone for the discussion to follow.
When students choose their charity topic for Project Give Back, many of them choose charities affiliated with camps, sports, music, and art. Why? Because they live for learning and mastering these skills. This year, many of our students weren’t able to do these things. Now they have a true new appreciation for camp and all of the life skills they learn when attending camp.
Tonight we had the privilege of hearing from those who live for camp. Each of them had a raw and real message to share.
Our first guest was Dana Zosky, the Co-Owner and Director and summer Mom of all Camp White Pine campers and staff. Dana spoke about the optimism in the air and gave us a brief history of the camp and her role as social worker. She spoke about the intrinsic value of camp and the huge emotional impact COVID has had on children’s emotional well being, when camp was no longer an option. She is so thankful that kids will have that opportunity once again.
“Camp provides children the opportunity for growth and independence, because you have to rely on yourself. Kids learn that they are able to take care of themselves, to overcome fears, deal with conflicts and make their own decisions. Camp provides kids the opportunity to be themselves.”
Last summer, without camp, it was so devastating to many. Now, our government has come to realize just how important the camp experience is.
Dana ended with an endearing story about her father-in-law, Joe Kronick, and the song that he loved to sing at camp called, ‘Three Blue Pigeons’. Last Friday, when there was suddenly the first indication that camps may possibly re-open, Dana’s son had the rare sighting of 3 blue pigeons upon his balcony railing. It was a sign!
Our next guest, Jeff Wilson is the Co-Owner and Director of Camp Manitou. As a visitor one year, Ellen witnessed something at Jeff’s camp that was spectacular. Every Friday night the entire camp walks up to the lakeside, where awards are given out, not for being the best at ski, swim, or ropes. These awards are for people at camp who truly care and have demonstrated compassion.
Jeff has built a summer camp experience around this idea. He started out by saying that camp stands for Community And Meeting Place. It’s a community, where campers not only learn skills, but to give back and create a better person all around. These are skills that last not just for a summer, but all year long. The camp setting also helps to build confidence, resilience and lifelong friendships. Jeff spoke about the beauty in experiencing Canadian wildlife and nature and regardless of any child’s background or interest, as camp truly makes a difference!
Emily Johnson was once the music specialist at Camp Bayview Glen. Jake followed her everywhere. Years later, she was back to sing for us. Emily is now a music teacher for middle and high school students. Tonight Emily performed, Kenny Loggins, ‘Return to Pooh Corner’, a beautiful song that always reminded her of camp and left us all feeling that cozy, campfire glow.
Our Shining Star, Marly Little is the ultimate camper and wants all children to have the opportunity to go to camp. Marly participated in Project Give Back this year, sharing her true passion for camp in the most meaningful way. The charity she chose, ‘Kids in Camp’, is a cause which helps provide a camp experience for all children. Many camps do their own fundraising events to raise money for this cause, including the Intercamp Classic.
Marly began by asking us to consider what it means to be grateful; to be able to do what we want in the summer. At camp, children learn many skills and enjoy new experiences in a stress free environment, where there is no pass or fail. She spoke about her love of camp, and how her cabin becomes her own family, in a worry free environment that provides a home away from home. Who wouldn’t want to take part in that experience? Thanks to Marly’s project, hopefully many more can do so.
Lindsay at Kindness Corner ended the evening with a new Kindness challenge: Look at the things that are reopening through the Lens of Equity. What will city run camps, pools, basketball courts look like this summer? She challenged us to speak up and use our power if you see things that you think are not right, so that all kids can have a happy and safe summer. We will certainly rise to that challenge!
Thank you to all our guests this week for bringing us hope and anticipation for a summer filled with all the joys that summer camp provides.