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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Camp Winni- year three: older, wiser and part of the crowd

This was the third year our family spent at Camp Winniauguamauck, a youth church camp directed by Sandi's sister Tricia.  We were there in many official capacities:  camp nurse (Sandi), support staff/photographer/boundary manager of the age 6 and under set (me), hero worshiper (Ella) and rebel rouser (I'm sure you can guess).

There are so many great things to love about camp: first and foremost the campers (going into grades 4-6), living outside for 4 days, the absolute feeling of love, acceptance and joy in the air, having family a few steps away all the time (in addition to Trish, Patti and her best friend who is "auntie" to our kids were there), meeting new and wonderful people and, of course, the water slide.

With a camp director like Tricia, a big kid with a heart as giant as she is tall, how could camp not be fun?

Now, as someone who has had some extensive "issues" with church as a whole, I have to say the Community of Christ church who holds this camp is one of the most open and accepting churches in its philosophies, intentions and steady push for change.  As a youth minister for New England, Tricia is a shining example of combining the spiritual with the religious.  She is never swamped in dogma and rules but instead questions, searches and repeatedly brings light into dark, stagnant corners of organized religion.  I love and respect her so much for this and is it the only reason that I happily volunteer myself at a church camp. I cannot see myself at this camp without Tricia at the helm.
One of the other things I love about camp is that it is a place that is made for a kid to be a kid.  They swim, they slide, they eat way more candy than they should, they play countless games, have campfire, counselor hide-and-seek after dark and even body painting.  No one stresses about the mess at camp.  I love this world that is so unlike my own where I often chase my tail trying to maintain some order in the chaos.

(And in my defense, these are much older kids, more equipped to handle such freedoms with strong adult guidance.)

In addition to being in charge of managing medications and injuries (of which there were many), Sandi also took a ton of video and pictures and made an AWESOME camp movie for the kids. She spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 hours on this project over 2 1/2 days and I was reminded of the goodness of the people who donate their time to a camp for the betterment of children. 

We did whatever we could to make those kids feel loved, important, unique and celebrated. And, no surprise, the kids simply thrive.

All the kids, ours included, were saturated with love.

Our kids had a perma-grin the entire time.  Ella took a drama class.  Maya rode in the boat with her grandmother while the kayakers were out.  Both found themselves attached at the hip to the same girls they adored last year. 

Last year, Trish had a campaign to get kayaks for the two camps she runs.  We donated money for two kayaks and paddles. To see these kids in those kayaks smiling, proud and was worth every penny.
I'm honestly not sure I've seen our kids more happy for a stretch of time, except maybe at Schoodic last summer.  Ella was so much more comfortable in her own skin this year and was so brave in making friendships with these older kids.  She ate with them, played with them, went to classes and did projects with them.  She cried like her heart was breaking when she had to say goodbye and come home.

She beamed the entire time.

Maya was also incredibly happy and unruly and maddening and hilarious.  As usual.  She was the camp mascot, high fiving, being the dining room jester and stomping around like she owned the place.

We are already talking about next year.  How could we not?

1 comment:

Emilie said...

WOW! I want to go!

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