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Camp Ondessonk Testimonials

Carol K-  Belleville IL:  2/10/2012

Camp Ondessonk has been my home away from home for over 40 years.  I go back at least once a year to enjoy the beauty that the Shawnee Forest has to offer. The many friends that I have made there are like family to me.  At camp, it is not important if you are rich or poor, black or white, fat or skinny, male or female–everyone is treated with courtesy and respect.  Camp is fun–you wont miss your cell phone, tv, video games, or even your soft, cushy, air conditioned room–why?  Because you are having the time of your life.  If given the opportunity– go to Camp Ondessonk…you will never know what you missed, if you don’t.  HEEPWAH!

Sara C  Nashville IL:

I learned about Camp Ondessonk when I was 10. My parents weren’t so sure about sending me to a rustic place three hours away at that age, with three-sided cabins and caves as living units. But once my whole family got there, met the amazing role models I had, and saw the self-confidence I’d gained after just a week, they let me come back every year – followed by both of my sisters, and all of my family at Family Camp. That first year was 1990. Twenty-two years later, I can honestly say that Camp Ondessonk has been one of the most formative experiences in my life. I learned how to break out of my shyness. I learned how to roll my own sleeping bag, walk a trail by moonlight, pee in the woods without getting my shoes wet. Sure, there were spiders, there was some homesickness and there were some tears. But I lived through it, I got over it, and I came back, summer after summer. I learned that who I am is someone of value and talent, just the way I am. I learned how to build a fire big enough to cook 60 burgers, and light it with one match. I learned how to connect with God in a whole different way than just during Mass. As a staff member, I learned I can lead, and do it with kindness and humor and still get the job done. I’ve climbed in my career thanks to the people skills and life skills I learned at Camp Ondessonk. I made the best friends I will ever know – including my husband. Every kid needs Camp Ondessonk. It’s one of the purely happiest, most positive places on earth.

Cyndi J.- Metropolis IL:

I attended Camp O in the late 70’s as a camper and continued on staff in the 80’s. I made lifelong friends who I still communicate to this day. I met my BFF at camp when I was 16. Camp taught me social values and gave me a great appreciation for nature. I would highly recommend this great institution to anyone wanting the full camping experience. Besides a week or two of fun, your children will take away a lifetime of memories.

Cate L- Chicago IL:

To me, Camp Ondessonk is a home away from home.
‘Camp O’ is an amazing environment where you are accepted for who you are as a person, not for your looks or the new shoes you have. It may seem scary, going to a new place for a whole week, not knowing what to expect, or if you’ll make friends, but the counselors and campers at Ondessonk are so genuine and friendly, I cry every time I have to LEAVE camp. Additionally, at Ondessonk, there is something for everyone. From horsebackriding, to making crafts, to shooting arrows and guns in Target Sports, learning about Catholic martyrs in Council, to hiking in the Shawnee National Forest, to Boating and Swimming, Camp O has it all. Not only are there activities in the day, but many fun night activities, like a Unit Campfire, Tuesday Night Game, Overnight (sleep out in the wilderness and eat Camp’s famous foil burgers!), the Lodge Ceremony, and Friday Night Skits. I can 100%, undoubtedly guarantee that Camp Ondessonk is the perfect place for you to go to or to send your child to over summer vacation. Last but certainly not least, Camp is the place where some of my best memories were made, ever since I was 10 years old. Meaning all things good, Camp Ondessonk is not only 5 stars, but a big HEEPWAH!

Rachel B- St Louis MO:

Camp Ondessonk was the first place I learned that life was much larger than the hometown where I grew up.  No matter the size of their town/school/church, it’s easy for young people to get labeled in a certain way and not realize there are other qualities to be brought out of them.  Camp definitely fosters this development.  Something about entering those gates allows you to check all judgments and inhibitions at the door and for one week, teens and pre-teens learn the valuable lesson of acceptance.

Beyond that, how often do you get to be so close to nature?? The living units are incredible – where else do you have the opportunity to live in a tree house or cave?  The camp schedule walks that perfect line of staying engaged while getting to thoroughly explore and experience all that camp has to offer.

Camp Ondessonk does a great job of representing its “Catholic Youth Camp” mission with an inviting platform for all denominations/traditions.  The Mass celebrated on Sunday evening brings a heightened appreciation to practicing Catholics, and the liturgy itself (songs, message etc.) is a great experience for someone who has never attended Mass before.  Spirituality is infused in the week not through bible verses and memorized prayer (although these are welcome formats) but through a true awe for the Creator and the world so magnificently fashioned.

In shaping my worldview, I credit Camp Ondessonk second only to my family.  The friendships ignited during Ondessonk summers have withstood distance and time to be the most lasting and returnable (you know what I mean – the friendship you can go back to after a decade without even a second of small talk) relationships.

I really thought, when I walked across the covered bridge as a 5th grader, that I was just going to camp for a week.  I had no idea that camp would be going with me for a lifetime.

Jaime C- Oceanside CA:

Some of the best memories of my childhood were made here. I learned so much here, not just about living in the outdoors, but also about who I am. I’m 32 years old now, but I would still go to camp every summer if I could. You can bet I will be sending my children to Camp O someday. Heepwah!

Ana M- Festus MO:

I started going to Camp Ondessonk the summer after I turned 10 and have been going every summer since. Everything about camp is amazing! When I’m at Camp O I can be me and just have fun. Because of camp I am more confident in everything I do. Take it from a camper, Camp is a life-changing experience!

Allison S- Belleville IL:

I have to start by saying how beautiful this area is! I sent my 13 year old to camp last summer (all girls week) She had the time of her life! It was really good for her to get away from teenage stresses and technology! The staff and counselors are so caring I felt very comfortable leaving! I have to say not only was this a great rewarding and learning experience for my daughter but It taught me a few life lessons as well! In the words of my daughter “HEEPWAH”

J.T.- New Lenox IL:

Camp Ondessonk is a great place to send your kids for a wonderful and safe camp experience.  Activities include, hikes, horseback riding, swimming, handicrafts, archery, and outdoor overnights. Campers stay in units which are three wall rustic cabins. Kids are under the supervision of trained and background checked camp counselors. The camp director Dan King is professional and kind and was happy to answer all my questions and concerns.  King, was a camper when he was a kid and now runs the place! My child had a great time and wants to go back next year. He made made many friends.  If you want to know more check out the website.

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