Summer Camp Wrap-Up
As the last echoes of “Rise and Shine” faded from the Old Dining Hall on the First of August, our 2015 summer camp season came to an end. Campers rushed out to find their parents and siblings and to recount tales of mud, marathons and foil burgers. Kids hugged their unit leaders, loaded up in their family vehicles, and drove home. They took with them their victories and their challenges, new lodge sashes, earned arrowheads, and lists of new friends. They took with them a piece of camp, and they left a piece of themselves. And with all those pieces left behind camp didn’t feel quite so empty.
Dan always says that the day after camp ends is the saddest day, but in the quiet I found contentment instead of loneliness and a sense of completeness and fulfillment instead of emptiness. It felt like the end of a day of hard work alongside good friends; a day of sweat and laughter ending in a job well done. In the nine weeks of summer camp this year, we served 2672 campers. In that number, there were 1198 campers new to Camp Ondessonk. Many of these campers enjoyed our brand new Monsignor Fournie Mini Camp Village. 542 campers lived in Fournie Village throughout the summer, which equals a summer average of 94% capacity! The camp community is certainly expanding and as we bring in new campers we expand our reach to new families and new geographic areas. This summer we also distributed $35,910 in tuition scholarships due to generous contributions from our camp community.
Contributions come in many forms, and we are lucky enough to have had over 100 volunteers throughout the summer who gave their time and talents to help camp do more than we could with our staff alone. Volunteers worked in maintenance, trained staff, fixed equipment, cooked, sewed, vetted horses, did IT work, led hikes, lead units of campers and were our nurses. Few other organizations have the volunteer presence that we are lucky enough to have here at camp, and our volunteers truly allow us to flourish in a way that we would not without them.
I would not be able to summarize the summer without mentioning the amazing contributions of our summer camp staff. We had over 100 incredible summer staff members, many of whom were new in leadership positions. Though many of our staff were asked to step into roles for the first time, they proved to be excellent teachers and mentors to younger staff. It is my hope they will continue to share their many gifts with camp in the coming years.
One focus that we will have during the coming years is to retain older campers through the time that they are able to apply as staff. To do this we will be creating new and exciting programs to engage those campers ages 13 and up. You’ll see some of these new programs in the 2016 camp brochure when it comes out, so be sure to take a look!
~Alissa Hollmann, Camping Services Director