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Camp Ondessonk Testimonials

Mr. King,

Just wanted to send you a note concerning my first experience with Camp Ondessonk. My daughter Susy Cowgill was a first time camper this past week at Girls Week 2. While my three older children showed some interest in the past in attending Camp Ondessonk it just never worked out. Our oldest who just graduated from high school was involved in boy scouts and it seemed like scout camp took precedence during his camping years. The Cowgills moved from Belleville to Breese about 4 years ago and that adjustment seemed to also affect the camping possibilities of our older two daughters. This past school year Susy showed some interest along with a few classsmates and decided to ask if she could go. Susy is the fourth child of eight so as parents, my wife and I have to “limit” the activities or family life “quality” would go down dramatically as I am sure you can understand. We always try to let our kids be active in sports and music and whatever else they show an interest in. So while I mentioned we limit things we still go crazy with all of the running here and there.

We dropped Susy off on the 15th of July and while we were a bit worried because of the heat we left hoping that it was going to be a good week for her. We thought of her often during the week and hoped and prayed that she was doing well, having fun and behaving. My wife and I showed up with our newest addition (2 month old daughter) and left the other ones in the care of their older siblings. While new at the pickup experience as well we were impressed with the talk and presentation you gave in the chapel while the girls were cheering and singing nearby. We left the chapel and waited like all the rest of the parents to meet up with their campers. Our first glimpse of her was her crying and hugging a new friend she had met at camp. We watched this for a few more moments while we worked our way to her. All the while watching her with tears in her eyes hugging new friends goodbye. We started to tear up as well as we finally caught her attention and got our first hug from Susy ourselves.

We took your advice and didn’t rush out. We let Susy say her goodbyes, show us around a bit and even watched her play a game or two of gaga ball as we believe it is called. After cashing in some barter bucks we said a few more goodbyes and headed to the parking lot. The drive home with a stop for gas and a soda and fries for the camper took a little over 2 hours I think. I must be honest I am not sure because for the whole duration we heard Susy tell us about the “whole week”. Everything from all day hikes to adventures to meals to bugs to dirt to sleep to inspections to showers to new friends to units to earning arrows to leaders to CIT’s to LIT’s to horses to archery. You get the picture. Susy is like most every other girl her age who is growing up too fast and the more we try to slow her down the harder it gets. While having 8 kids gives us an excuse as to why she can’t have the latest and greatest hi-tech gadget or the most up to date fashions I am sure you understand the pressures on young girls to be one of the crowd. It is no different in the wonderful town of Breese. We moved here to raise our family in a small town environment and must say that it has been a true blessing. We could not be happier with the move. Having said that we must also say that it is not a perfect place. Kids are still kids and some have things that others don’t and that will always cause issues.

I may be saying this without all the facts but based upon what we saw at Camp Ondessonk it looks like you have figured out a way to combat that.  She left there absolutely loving the experiences that she had. While I believe she grew up tremendously during the week, I also believe on the flip side that she also remained a young girl for one week longer than if she would not have gone to Camp. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that one week at Camp Ondessonk fixes all that is wrong with the world but just maybe if parents take your lead and get back to getting a little dirty while having fun and not worry about keeping up with the world we might all be a little better off.

I sometimes ramble on but thought I should take the time to send you this note.

Congratulations to you and all the staff at Camp Ondessonk.

This may have been our first experience with Camp Ondessonk but something tells me it will not be our last.

Thanks for the great experience and God Bless you in all you do.

Mark Cowgill
Breese IL

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