Gracie R.—Camp Star

Hey, Camp Aficionados!

We were very happy with all the great submissions we got about the camp experience families underwent this summer. We saw somewhere around 30 submissions for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest that we had at Everything Summer Camp. Now we’re posting each of your entries on the Blog! We had seven lucky winners who got larger Camp Kanakuk was a great camp for Gracie. How about you?prizes and all other entrants received a $15 gift certificate to our online store! Today’s post is from Gracie R., who wrote in to tell us about her fun summer at Camp Kanakuk. Here’s what she had to say:

It all started with Mom saying maybe you should go to sleep-away camp this summer…then I wanted to get a trunk. I heard that everyone gets a trunk and decorates the trunk for camp so I put my ideas on paper and we painted it. It was so fun. I put hearts and my name on it. I love the colors—my favorite color is purple. I wanted to go to camp Kanakuk with my friend Everley..and she lives in Oklahoma and I live in Atlanta. I have never been to camp before and I did not know what it would be like. Everley had not been to camp either. So we went at the same time. We got on the bus in Oklahoma and I sat with her. We stopped at McDonald’s. My mom gave me $15, but I only spent 4 and then we got to Kanakuk. We got our bunks and I was barn #6 with 10 other girls. My counselors were very nice and one of them was from Atlanta! My favorite thing to do was the zip line—it was very high and fast! I had a great time and I missed my family but I was having so much fun. They sent me emails and the counselors made us write letters. I did not like the food that much. I learned that God is first, then others, then me. They call it ‘Me 3rd’. Everyone was so nice and they had parties every night. One was a glow party, one was red white and boom, there was a princess party, and a Star Wars party. I learned a lot and I made new friends and I hope to go back next year. My mom said I grew and I was only gone one week!

You had a lot of fun at camp, Gracie! From your anticipation to your arrival, zip lines and parties, sounds like your camp experience at Kanakuk was awesome! I bet you’ll be going back for years to come! Check out Camp Kanakuk see what Gracie is talking about. As always, thanks for reading!

- John

Becca M. Found a Camp Gem!

Hey, Camp Aficionados!

We were overjoyed to get so many great submissions about the camp experience—30 submissions—for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest that we held here at Everything Summer Camp. Now we’re excited to post each of your entries right here on the Blog! To follow our seven lucky winners of larger prizes, all other entrGet into the Huckins spirit this summer!ants received a $15 gift certificate to our online store! Today’s post is from Becca M., who wrote in to tell us about her fun summer at Camp Huckins. Here’s what she had to say:

The night was clear and starry, the moon shining on our faces leading the way. We were silently walking toward the lodge for candlelight, singing our favorite songs for the last time of the year. It was all of the traditions that have brought me back. It has been the singing on the tables, the food that you just can’t stop eating, the new friends that you meet, and so much more that makes Camp Huckins so special.
             As candles lit the room, the Hucksters filed into the lodge where we were all waiting patiently. For five years they had been at camp, doing everything camp has to offer. I knew that someday I would be sitting in the triangle formation representing the YMCA getting ready for the necklace showing my loyalty of being here, to go over my head, onto my neck. I remembered all the wonderful times I’ve had here, from the first day to the last. Arriving feeling petrified that my trunk wasn’t going to be there, glancing at my new cabin mates, swimming on the clear glassy lake, rolling up to gliding on water skies with a smile breaking out on my face, and walking into the dining hall, when all jaws dropped at the wonderful decorations for banquet night. I looked at my new best friend and knew that this would be a summer I would never forget. Toward the end of candlelight, my new best friend whispered, ‘ I will miss you.’ With my heart weighing me down, I slowly trudged back to the cabin.
             At the cabin, we had to stand outside until tapps with our candles as a camp tradition. One of my friends dropped her candle on the ground and the ground caught fire! The fire was like a snowstorm, Growing and swirling. As we all held our breath, our counselors said, ‘step back we got it!’ My counselors had to stomp on the candle with all their might. All of us were anxiously waiting for the fire to go out, and some of my cabin mates wanted to jump in and help out. With all of us screaming or laughing, the fire went out and the familiar, comforting sound of tapps showing us it was time for bed, blew. But this time I felt like it was showing us that it was time to go home.
             After tapps, we went inside to the cabin. The counselors were acting suspicious. We all looked at each other and wondered what they could be hiding behind their backs. ‘Hey, NO, NO, NO looking!’ We kept trying to take a peek at what we hoped would be a wonderful surprise to celebrate the times we’ve had at camp. A few minutes later smiles broke out on all of our faces and we all ran to get the surprise we’ve been waiting for. IT WAS COOKIES!!!!! We never get to eat in the cabin so this was a great treat! As we ate our cookies, and it was time for confessions. We only did this on the last night so we could confess all that we had done. We all had to share something that we had done ‘wrong.’ My counselors went first. As they told their story, all eyes widened and faces turned red containing our laughter. After the story was over, we all erupted with laughter. Then it was our turn. None of the confessions were as entertaining or good as the counselors’.
             After confessions it was time for bed. As we slept in these beds for the last time of the year, sobs filled the cabin. As the counselors went to their meeting, all my cabin mates and I shared our favorite memories from this year, memories to never forget. As we all slowly drifted to sleep, I knew that I would be back next year, jumping off the tower screaming with joy, horseback riding through the lush trails, and making new best friends, everything about Camp Huckins will bring me back forever.

Camp Huckins sounds like a really special place, Becka! I bet you’ll be going back for years to come! Check out Nellie Huckins for yourself to get an idea of what Becka loves so much about this place. As always, thanks for reading!

- John

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Hey, Camp Fans!

We were delighted to have received such a great response—30 entries—for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest that we held here at Everything Summer Camp, we’re excited to publish each of your entries right here on the Blog! Following our seven lucky winners of bigger prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online store! Today’s post is from Eve B., who wrote in to tell us about her time (as well as her daughters’) at summer camp—30-some years in the making! Check out what she wrote:

As a child who was bullied in school, going to overnight camp was the highlight of my childhood. I started going to YMCA Camp Foss, in Strafford, NH, in 1980, and immediately fell in love with the camp’s small, low-key, girls-only environment. Here was a camp that truly embodied the spirit of summer, with a staff of strong female role models who nurtured each camper’s individuality with great care and love. It was during my 9 summers at camp, both as a camper and a counselor, that I developed confidence, creativity, independence, and lifelong friendships that made me the person I am today. Fast forwarding 25 years, our daughter just completed her 4th summer at camp (often in cabins with the daughters of my childhood camp friends!). It’s remarkable, but not surprising, to see how deeply her camp experience contributes to her development. At the end of each summer, she’s a little bolder, a little more balanced, a lot happier. She’s a kid who marches fearlessly to her own beat, and we know that so much of her ability to do so comes from the confidence and support she gathers at camp. While camp has meant different things to her and myself, what’s clear is that it’s empowering, and builds meaningful memories and friendships for her, just as it did for me! I can’t think of a greater gift for a lifetime, particularly for a young girl navigating the world.”

Awesome, Eve! I’m so glad that your particular summer camp has remained such an important part in your life directly and through your daughter. It must be so great that your daughter is getting to experience for the first time what you did all those summers ago! As always, thanks for reading!

- John

Lisa K. on her Camp Stay

Hey, Camp Fans!

Elated to have received such a great response of about 30 entries for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest that we held here at Everything Summer Camp, we’re eager to share each entry right here on the Blog now! After seven lucky winners of bigger Enjoy what Lisa enjoyed about it all those years ago and then again just this last year!prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online store! And today’s post is from Lisa K., who wrote in to tell us about her return to Camp Nokomis—30-some years in the making! Check it out:

I was a camper and staff at Camp Nokomis on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire for 12 years. I left camp after my Freshman year in College to pursue other things. Not a summer went by when I did not think about Camp and how much I wanted to go back. Fast forward almost 30 years and I have a daughter who is in her 6th summer at Nokomis and I was lucky enough to get to go back! I was able to fulfill a life-long dream on being the camp nurse for a session of camp. It was amazing—everything I had hoped it would be. Camp Nokomis is on beautiful Bear Island on Lake Winnipesaukee. It is incredibly beautiful with million dollar views and clear water. I knew how lucky I was to go to bed listening to waves on the shore and to wake up to the bugle blowing reveille. Most importantly the values that Camp Nokomis has always stood for remain in place. It is a place that has taught generations of young women to be kind and strong and have confidence to try new things in a supportive atmosphere. It was such a joy to see these campers having fun and developing skills that they will be able to take with them throughout their lives. I know that I am the person I am today because of camp.

This is such a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing it with us, Lisa. Camp Nokomis sounds beautiful. I’m so glad that your daughter is getting to experience for the first time what you got to relive this summer! How cool for you! Check out Camp Nokomis to see what Lisa’s talking about and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Jennifer M. Does Camp Again!

Hey, Camp Fans!

We were glad to receive such a great response to our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest we put on here at Everything Summer Camp—roughly 30 entries! Of course, we’re eager, now, to share each entry right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of the bigger prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online store! Today’s post is from Jennifer M., who wrote in to tell us about her daughter’s summer stay at Camp Wise. Camp Wise is the wise camp for you.Overnight camp had been a discussion in our house for years. There was only one camp we were considering and knew that it would be a great choice for our daughter if she went to overnight camp. We are a very close family and wanted to make sure she was ready to be away from home. Then she felt 100% sure she wanted to try it, and the decision was made!
             lEvery day, Camp posted over 100 photos of kids. That was certainly not something my parents got when I went to overnight camp! We knew we were lucky as we saw photos of her every day. Every night after dinner, it was an eagerly anticipated event to check the photos. When we picked her up, we learned the camp photographer lived in her cabin, so the photographer’s familiarity of our daughter must have helped! It was a little odd to see her wearing a pajama top as a shirt in the photos more than once, but hey, as long as she was safe and happy, who cared, and it was a funny story and we teased her about it when she got home.
             lThe second summer our daughter went was much easier on all of us – we all knew what to expect. She knew she was going to return to all the great activities, great friends, great counselors, and a very special time away from home. We saw a lot fewer pictures of her, but we knew she was having a blast. In one photo, when I saw her shirt didn’t quite match her shorts, again, I reasoned, she’s safe and happy, it’s okay. It would have been nice if her letter telling us who was in her cabin and what her activities were arrived more than 15 hours before she got home, when the activities were of course all over, but, she was apparently having too much fun to write it any sooner!

Camp is fun, but it’s chaos, for sure! Mismatching outfits and pajama tops in the daytime are more or less normal in a place like summer camp—just go with it! Glad she loves her time at camp so much! You can check out Camp Wise for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

The Long Camp Trail for Gayle

Hey, Camp Fans!

Happy to receive roughly 30 entries for the ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest we put on here at Everything Summer Camp. And now we’re eager to share each one right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of larger prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online shop! Today we have a submission from Gayle S., who wrote in to tell us about her experience saying goodbye to her daughter for her camp stay at Camp Longhorn. Camp Longhorn may very well be the camp for you. Check it out.

When I agreed to sign my oldest daughter up for the same camp that her dad attended, I was hesitant because I couldn’t imagine sending my 9-year-old away for two weeks. Two weeks without her mom or dad to hug her good night. Two weeks without her brother and sisters to play with. Two weeks of sleeping with a room full of girls instead of being in her own bed in her own room. I was certain she would be home sick and cry herself to sleep at least once, but camp wasn’t until the last two weeks of summer and that seemed so far off so I just didn’t think about it.
          lThe summer flew by as it tends to do each year, only this time we found ourselves ordering a teal trunk, labeling clothes and shopping for a battery-operated fan and stationery. We spent hours filling her trunk, lid organizer, and glide trays making sure that she knew where all her necessities would be. I hid notes of love and encouragement in a few strategic places. I wanted to make her first time at camp as easy as possible.
          lDropping her off at camp was quick and easy. Just jump out of the car, unload that pretty teal trunk, and hand it—and our daughter—off to the smiling counselors who were overflowing with excitement for the experience to come. I stopped the whole process to grab one last hug and a quick family photo and then drove away with minimal tears in my own eyes. The next two weeks we received a few letters from our daughter who was loving every minute of Camp Longhorn. We heard about finding arrowheads, zipping into the water on a trolley, new friends, and new experiences. We saw photos the camp posted each day and saw our daughter bouncing on a blob, dancing, and having fun with her cabin mates.
           lFinally V-Day arrived and while we were met with huge hugs, there were no tears. Instead we had introductions to new friends, a guided tour of her favorite camp places, a taste of some daily camp rituals, and we added a bunny from the petting zoo to our household. She had thought of us often and missed us a little, but the nights didn’t end with her crying, instead she was lulled to sleep by cicadas. She had a room full of new sisters and will miss them terribly until they are reunited next summer. I realized that this experience wasn’t depriving me of my daughter for two weeks, but instead it was giving her safe place to grow in new ways. She embraced the same traditions and experiences that her dad had many years ago, and I often overhear her telling her younger sister, ‘Next year at camp, you are going to absolutely love…’ Attawaytogo Camp Longhorn! Thank you for making me and my daughter part of your family.

I’m glad you made your peace with summer camp and that it was such a blast for your daughter, Gayle! We hope that next year is just as good for her and for your younger daughter too! You can check out Camp Longhorn for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Ashley L. Says it Well.

Hey, Camp Fans!

We were please to receive somewhere around 30 entries for the ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest we put on here at Everything Summer Camp. And now we’re eager to share each one right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of larger prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online shop! Today’s post is from Ashley L., who wrote in to tell us about her experience saying goodbye to her daughter for her weeklong camp stay at Gwynn Valley. Check out Anna's camp place.

Driving through the windy, mountainous roads of North Carolina, the Ramona the Pest audio book was barely audible over the constant chatter of my overzealous nine-year-old. Even though this is her third year to go to ‘sleep away’ camp, she still anticipates the first day of camp with the same fervor as a child waiting endlessly for Santa on Christmas Eve. ‘Who will be in my cabin?’ ‘Will my friends be there from last year?’ ‘I hope my favorite pottery counselor comes back!’ Anna fired off questions like she shoots arrows in archery – fast and spot on.

We arrive at camp to horses at pasture, the mountains framing the scene. As we pull into the camp parking lot, counselors are greeting everyone and helping to unload van after van. One child has a giant suitcase that drags across the gravel parking lot before the counselors swoop in to help. One of the best purchases I made years ago was to invest in a sturdy trunk, a blue one with handles on the side, now covered with bumper stickers announcing places that have been visited. Although our trunk was definitely heavy, it was easily lifted and carried to Babbling Brook, the cabin where other giddy nine-year olds were waiting to meet the other new arrivals.

Anna’s excitement was palpable while my sadness was bottled up – for the time being. ‘Put on a brave face,’ I tell myself. You see, my daughter has a severe nut allergy, and letting her out of my sight is tough. I trust my daughter and I trust this camp to keep her safe. The truth is that I will miss my daughter each and every day that she is away.
Meanwhile, my anxiety grows. As I walk back to the car, I am a little giddy. A week to myself?!! Yippee! What am I going to do? I reach the end of the camp driveway, look back at the horses at bay, and my mood slowly changes. My short-lived enthusiasm waned as I sadly repeated, ‘What am I going to do with a week to myself?’

Four o’clock every afternoon, I check the camp website for pictures. By the sixth day of camp, there are only 10 pictures of my daughter. Wait a minute. Out of 500 pictures, there are only 10 of my daughter? Maybe she’s so busy that they cannot catch her to take her picture.

Finally day 7—pick up day. It turns out that my daughter really was so busy that I am amazed that the camp was able to get as many pictures of her as they did! Anna tried basket weaving, tree climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, yoga, pottery, bracelet-making, and on and on. All handmade artifacts were carefully packed in her trunk and organized in her special trunk organizer. Brimming with excitement as she saw her father and me enter her cabin, she began the same chatter that happened when we dropped her off. ‘Look what I did. Come see this. This is Beth, Sally, and Laura. I climbed this enormous tree!”

After all of the good-byes were said and a few tears were shed, back in the car we went for the long ride home. Ramona the Pest was playing loud and clear, and as I looked to the back to gaze at my sweet girl that I had missed terribly, she is sound asleep, dreaming of the next summer at camp. And the countdown to camp begins.

A week can feel like a long time, Ashley! Glad you made it through! I’m sure it all feels worth it now. I hope Anna’s future camp stays can go a little easier on you. On the flip side, it sounds like Anna had an awesome time at camp! You can check out Gwynn Valley for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Maddie S. Thinks Camp is the Best!

Hey, Camp Fans!

We were please to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 entries for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest here at Everything Summer Camp and so we’re eager to share each one right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of bigger prizes, all other entrants got a $15 gift certificate for our online shop! Today’s post is from Maddie S., who wrote in to tell us about her and her best friend, Lily who she met at camp. Hear Maddie's story about her best friend, Lily.I have been going to YMCA Camp Seafarer for 6 years. My mom went there 30 years ago. When I was 6, my parents sent me to starter camp. Starter camp is a one-week program that introduces you to the lifestyle of camp. There at starter camp, I met a nice 6-year-old girl, named Lily. That week I grew closer to her and we became best friends. We have been coming back together as best friends for the past 6 years. On starter camp pick up day, our parents met and, they too, became close friends. Lily’s parents even invited my family over to their beach house for dinner. The next year we stayed together the night before the two-week program that week. That program lets you go free without a counselor to any activity. You can go out with anyone and earn ranks together. Lily and I earned every rank together. The next year we went for a month. We got so much accomplished during that month. Since then, we have been each others cabin mates for the past 6 years. At the end of every session, we have awards and a fancy dinner. For the two-week and four-month programs that we have done, every year we have earned the Dynamic Duo in the award ceremony. At camp, I truly met my best friend. Now, our families are good friends, but we will always be best friends.

I hope you liked my camp story.

We do like your camp story, Maddie! We do! How lucky you and Lily are that your parents sent you to summer camp!—And how lucky THEY are! Maddie loved her time at Camp Seafarer. You can check it out for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Lucy B Shares Her Camp Story!

Hey, Camp Fans!

Having received around 30 entries for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest here at Everything Summer Camp, we’re eager to share each one by publishing them right here on the Blog! We had seven lucky winners and then everyone else who submittCamp Takodah fun awaits...until next summer!ed received a $15 gift certificate to our website! Today’s post is from Lucy B., who wrote in to tell us about her first year at overnight camp.

I had a lot of fun at camp! This was my first year of going to sleep-away camp. I made new friends, tried some new activities and made amazing memories! One of my favorite memories is when I was at the lake with some of my friends! We were all in small inner tubes and one of my friends (Lily) was trying to teach Audrey, Elsie, and me how to do a backflip out of the tube. It was so fun because none of us could quite get it right away and we all looked really silly! Audrey was the first to get it, however, and she and Lily kept trying to help Elsie and me but we just kept falling on our faces or falling backwards instead! Eventually we got the hang of it but that was a memory I would definitely keep! That was also the day I jumped off the tower for the first time! At the waterfront there is an 8ft tower that most people were scared to jump off of, but not me! I had read about the tower online and it sounded really fun so Audrey and I decided to jump off it! It was so cool and Audrey and I loved it so much that we decided to jump off it again (and again, and again, and… you get the point)! I had so much fun and made so many friends at camp that I signed up for next year and I hope to sign up for many years after that too!!!

Sounds like a pretty hysterical time, Lucy! I don’t think I could pull off a smooth backflip, but it sounds like you finally got it down. Lucy loved her time at Camp Takodah. You can check it out for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Chase H. and his Tent-Mate

Hey, Camp Fans!

We received about 30 entries for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest here at Everything Summer Camp. Now we’re eager to share each one by publishing them right here on the Blog! After our seven lucky winners, everyone else who submitted received a $15 gift certificate to our website! Today’s post is from Chase H., who wrote in to tell us about his camping misadventure.
This is a wonderful place to do your summer camping.This story starts back from a campfire on night two of ten. My tent-mate had received a care package full of goodies and sweets, but was lazy enough to just leave it out on his camp box. I was the first one coming into camp and when I walked down to our pod of tents, I saw four green eyes staring at me. I shined my flashlight and sure enough, there was a raccoon in our tent and one just outside of it. They had eaten all of my friend’s treats and were searching for more. One was on my cot! The whole entire rest of the night, my friend kept shining the flashlight to scare the raccoons off because they kept coming back. We called it Five Nights at Camp after the popular game Five Nights at Freddy’s. Later, my friend decided to hide the rest of his food; in a trash can, when we woke up, it too was all gone. He was really angry now. I told him that it was a bad idea but he didn’t believe. Finally, someone made a bag we could haul up into a tree to keep out of the reach of the little critters. I never moved my food, it was all safely in my wooden box.

Sounds like you had a pretty exciting experience with your surprise visitors! I hope your tent-mate learned his lesson! At least YOUR food was left alone! Check out the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation if you’re interested in it for your own camping experience and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John