Mini-Camp Provides a Week of Firsts for Campers and Camp
By Joshua Mussell Ozark, IL
Each year, Camp Ondessonk gets a new generation of campers who are experiencing the wonder of Mini-Camp for the first time. Throughout the week, these campers will have many firsts: their first time riding a horse, their first time sleeping in a cabin, and their first time walking across the covered bridge. All of these experiences allow the Mini-campers an insight into what it will be like when they come back for traditional camp next summer.
While the Mini-Campers are experiencing the activities for the first time, Camp Ondessonk is constantly innovating its programming to provide new ways for them to get the most out of their short time here. One way we are doing that is with the addition of the Specialty Program Coordinator.
This summer, the Specialty Program Coordinator is Shannon Sonderman. Her goal is to bolster the Mini-Camper programming to help create a smooth transition from mini-camp to traditional camp, and eventually, all the way to our senior camper program.
“This year’s Mini-Camp program, which is our three-day program, is pretty similar to what we have done in the past. Currently, we’re working to strengthen our night time activities, like the Monday night unit campfire and the Tuesday night Mini-Camp activities where campers go around to different stations in the Old Dining Hall and play games. Our goal is to make sure the Mini-Campers are having fun and staying engaged,” said Sonderman.
Not only is the Mini-Camp program being adapted, so is the Mini-Camp explorers’ program. Mini-camp explorers are Mini-Campers who stay for an entire week. This is the first year Mini-camp explorers will get to participate in all of the activity areas. In the past, they have not been able to make it to Riflery, but now on Wednesday mornings campers will go and shoot slingshots instead of rifles.
“With Mini-Camp programming, it is really about giving them a taste of camp and experiencing the authentic Camp Ondessonk feel of being in nature. We want them to try new things, get out of their comfort zone and grow spiritually during their time at camp. If anyone is trying to decide between Mini-Camp and Mini-Camp Explorers, I would go for the full week. That way, the camper can participate in every activity area and they get to experience all of our evening activities, which are always super fun, especially the cookout on Wednesdays where the campers make foil burgers. I believe being here for a full week is really the best way to get the full Camp Ondessonk experience and progression,” Sonderman said.