Power of Camp: Impact For A LifetimePosted by Alicia DeHart on February 26, 2018
When I first arrived to Fernwood Cove in 2002 I understood the power of camp. As a young twenty-something I was the product of summer camp. I still feel that I am who I am today because of my summer camp experiences over the past thirty years. After more than a decade of being a director at Fernwood Cove I have a completely new respect for the power of camp. I am lucky to have watched more than a thousand Fernwood Cove girls develop into amazing teens and young women. I have helped hundreds of counselors develop into mentors and role models. During my fifteen years at Fernwood Cove thousands of individuals have returned home stronger, braver, and more capable. All through the power of camp.
As I sit and watch the 2018 Olympics with so many athletes competing to be the best in the world. Only one person or one team will be the best on any given day of this Olympiad. However, each of them likely entered the games as the best version of themselves. Fernwood Cove isn’t in the business in producing Olympians. But this doesn’t lessen the goal of empowering each Fernwood Cove camper, CIT, and staff member to better themselves every day of the summer. And just like the Olympics everyone in the Fernwood Cove community pushes to be faster, higher, stronger…as athletes, as artists, as people.
The Power of Camp is Personal Growth
In 2002 a young girl named Emily entered through the Fernwood Cove gates for the first time as well. I seriously doubt she understood what her first summer at camp would bring. She certainly didn’t understand the growth and transformation she would experience throughout her eight years at camp. Each summer provided Emily with the opportunity to learn and grow. Each summer Emily’s level of independence and self-confidence continued to develop. She returned to camp in 2007 as one of Fernwood Cove’s original CITs. It is these two summers that she feels had the greatest impact on her and who she is today. Camper, CIT, and Staff Alumnae, Caroline (Seibel) Yates is one of many Fernwood Cove examples of how the power of camp is personal growth.
It is not an overstatement to say the Fernwood Cove CIT Program (now Teen Leadership Program) was instrumental in shaping me into the woman I am today. In fact, I told my husband that I think being a CIT changed my life. I didn’t just say “Fernwood Cove” – although, of course, all of my extraordinary summers, from camper to CIT to counselor, had their impact. But without a doubt it was my two CIT years that helped me learn, change, and grow the most.
The Power of Camp Puts You In The Spotlight
Once campers and staff enter the camp gates the world of Fernwood Cove awaits. It’s amazing to see everyone in the Fernwood Cove community trying new things. Some even find new passions. Ultimately everyone is soaking up everything camp has to offer. Whether it’s during Performance Night or on an Inter-Camp team the power of camp puts you in the spotlight. Sometimes this is a first for Fernwood Cove girls. Sometimes it’s where they feel truly at home. No one personifies this better than camper alumnae and current staff member, Bryce Gudelsky.
Bryce’s camp adventures began when she was a 4th grader in 2006. Each summer her father pushed her to play more soccer and try softball. No matter how much encouragement he gave she continually found herself back on the Chick stage. This is where she was most at home at camp. And the stage continues to be where she’s most at home outside of camp as well. Recently Bryce was given the opportunity to sing on the set of the Broadway show Waitress. Throughout her years as a camper and a staff member it’s been amazing to watch her confidence and command of the stage grow. As her performance shows, the power of camp puts you in the spotlight where you shine.
I was thinking after leaving the theater that if it wasn’t for camp I would have never had the guts to audition for a musical and I pursue my passion in story telling and performing.
Recreating the Power of Camp
My first summer as a Fernwood Cove Director was 2004. I was very excited to help lead the staff through the summer. And with over six summers of working at camps I felt I was prepared for the summer ahead. What I wasn’t prepared for was how the power of camp would impact those staff members. And in turn how that would impact me. I soon realized that I was now responsible for recreating the power of camp. Staff alumnae Amy (Mattila) McKeon was a first-year counselor that summer. When checking her references prior to her employment I spoke with a former employer who told me that she would definitely recommend Amy to work at Fernwood Cove. However, we had to promise to send her back once camp was over. Unfortunately due to the power of camp, this never happened.
Amy continued to work at Fernwood Cove for nine summers, working her way up from water skiing/wakeboarding counselor to CIT Program Coordinator. It was during her years working in the CIT Program that she realized her ability to connect with teens in a deeply meaningful way. After her final summer working at Fernwood Cove Amy returned to Colorado to pursue a Master’s Degree in Special Education. Now in her 7th year of working in the Jefferson County School System in Colorado Amy is actively uses her camp experiences to empower her students. As a Special Education teacher Amy is recreating the power of camp everyday.
The Power of Camp Lives in You
Each summer I enter into camp knowing that we have the opportunity to impact campers’ lives. And as counselors become better versions of themselves they increase the magnitude of that impact. The unique atmosphere of Fernwood Cove supports the personal growth of everyone in the camp community. Thus creating the continual journey of personal growth campers and staff embark on each summer. And this is the power of camp. But it doesn’t stop there.
The impact of camp on our lives is something that we take with us forever. It doesn’t matter how many summers you were at camp. Nor does it matter how long it’s been since you last drove out of camp down Island Pond Road. With the impact of camp we also carry the power of camp. That’s right, the power of camp lives in you. It is with us when we face new challenges. And it’s there when you support and empower others. Carrying the power of camp is not about being a super hero. And it’s certainly not about being the best in the world like an Olympian. Carrying the power of camp is about continually striving to be the best versions of ourselves. And encouraging those around us to do the same. As we share the power of camp we make the world a better place.
Let us know how the power of camp has impacted you. How will you use the power of camp to help change the world today?