Reflections of Summer
By Alissa Hollmann, Camping Services Director
As summer 2019 came to a close in early August, we picked up the lost socks and towels, inventoried equipment said goodbye to our summer staff and counted our blessings. Camp Ondessonk is so grateful to have an active community of alumni, donors, volunteers, and families surrounding us and our campers, who are all loved so much. We are so fortunate to have been able to serve almost 3,400 summer campers this year, which does not include our school groups and family programs. We are so blessed to have staff that gives ten weeks of their summer- every summer- to come home and help our campers grow. The blessings abound, and we thank you for helping to make these things possible.
After each session, we ask for feedback from parents and campers alike to find out what we are doing right and what we can do better. We learn things every year, and this year is no different. We already knew that nobody likes outhouses or cold showers, and it turns out that people still don’t like them. However, we also learn about our families. We received this feedback from the caregiver of a 13-year-old camper:
Everyone was helpful, friendly, and excited to be there. [My camper] went the last week of the summer and I know that is usually when the staff is burnt out and wants to go home, but he said that the counselors were helpful, friendly and still had the excitement like it was the first week of camp. He is in foster care, and he says coming to the Camp Ondessonk lets him “be a kid” and not worry about counseling, psych appointments and the stress of being in the foster care system.
We also learn about all of the joy and the little surprises that take place throughout the week. We hear about those who were invited to join Lodge and those that weren’t. We learn about times that counselors ate bugs or rolled in mud to amuse their campers or times they gave them individual attention to fight homesickness. One camper referred to her counselor as a “camper in spirit.” The staff and the magic at camp recount some fantastic happenings, including this story from a parent we received this summer:
My camper deals with shyness and being overly introverted to the point she will not talk. However, at camp, she came out of her shell and made new friends while trying new activities. She also had said she would try more things the next time she goes.
The lessons we’ve learned from parents help us be our best and raise Camp Spirit higher and higher. The lessons I’ve learned at Camp will live with me wherever I go. As this will be my last summer at Ondessonk, I want to thank you for making it so special, and for allowing me to count Camp as one of the great blessings in my life. Heepwah!