Another successful camp season is complete, and the transition back to school has begun. What a wonderful summer – being immersed in nature, exploring new places, making new friends and trying new things. I’m home now, my bags are unpacked, and as I pause to reflect on it all, my heart is full of gratitude for our staff, our alumni, our campers and particularly for you, our donors who make camp possible.
There are too many highlights from this summer to count, but I wanted to share just a few so that you can get a small glimpse into the fun. As always, the Scugog staff are at the top of my list. Almost all of our staff were campers themselves, and are graduates from our leadership program. I’ve known most of them since they were young, and watching them grow into remarkable young adults who work tirelessly all summer long is priceless. They gave their absolute best each day – they were energized, they were inspiring, and by the end of the summer they were exhausted. The staff are a terrific group and I am grateful for each one’s dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm.
Our “special days” were particularly impressive, in no small part because of the incredible props and costumes. I’m always so delighted to see the ensembles that are created from bits and ends found around camp – the creativity and attention to detail always blows me away. Once all of the plans are woven together and it’s time to begin, campers fully invest themselves into the excitement of special days. They love competing with each other in tasks that culminate in a grand ending and reveal. During one Mom’s Camp we had a Paw Patrol themed special day and Yuki, one of our resident camp dogs, was delighted when all of the clues lead to his “rescue”. The campers were thrilled to have solved the mystery and brought Yuki to “safety”, and Yuki was beyond excited to devour a rescue treat from every single camper.
This was a particularly hot summer, so our waterfront was buzzing from dawn until dusk. Campers loved playing on the water mat, lounging in the water tubes and dumping the canoes. It brings me such joy to see these kids gain confidence in the lake. Many come to camp as non-swimmers, and by the time they leave, they are so much more comfortable in the water, in no small part to the importance of play. It’s remarkable how much can be learned simply through playing around and testing their own boundaries.
The sweltering heat also made our mud pit a real attraction. Most campers started with a “ew, that’s gross” attitude, but that quickly morphed into giggles and laughter as they had mud fights, played tug of war and wrestled in the dirt. You could hear the laughter echo throughout camp as kids and staff simply had fun. It’s so important for kids to be silly and comfortable with themselves, and the mud pit accomplished just that.
Perhaps the biggest highlight, and one that captures the summer for me, was seeing three of our L.I.T.’s play guitar at campfire. Each of them learned to strum a guitar at camp, some over a few summers, and one L.I.T., Anna learned just this year. Anna said that as a kid, campfire was her favourite part of the day and leading guitar songs was always a dream; but one that seemed distant and out of reach. This year, she learned to play the guitar, and by the end of August, she was co-leading the slow songs at campfire every night. Seeing her pride and pure joy made my whole summer worthwhile because to me, it perfectly encapsulates camp. At camp, kids and teens learn new skills, make new friends, try new things and push themselves to be their best. It’s because of these things that they leave with greater self esteem and confidence. They leave having a better understanding of their potential, and knowing they have a community of support.
I love camp, and know its ability to change a person. That’s why I’m so grateful to you for bringing it to life. We had 303 campers this summer, and 348 donors made it possible. Thank you for being one of them.
As the days become cooler, and the leaves start to change, I wish you peace and happiness.
Yours in camping,