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Camp Love Letters

 

Back in March, we asked Storer Alumni to write a love letter to camp.  We thoroughly enjoyed the many responses we received and are highlighting some of our favorites each week throughout the month of May. 

 

Dear Storer Camps,

We've lost touch over the years, but the events of the world around us have me searching the places of my past where I was the most brave and the most happy. And I find my mind wandering to you often...

If I had to tell you something that I've held close for many years, it's that you were the background to all the firsts I can recall through the years. I'm older now, much older. Some of the lessons you taught me have been dulled, but it is all the firsts that bring me so much joy. 

My first time away from home, my first brave adventures, my first time making friends from all walks of life, my first kiss, my first love, my first job, my first heartache, my first time feeling wildly confident, my first time cooking over fire, my first time living in a house of women, my first chacos, my first big mistakes. A world of firsts. 

There were so many firsts, and you were the backdrop for them all. Sometimes, when being an adult gets too hard or too overwhelming, I close my eyes and I go back to all those special places at camp and memories that are stored like movies in my mind. I smell the smells, I hear the songs, I remember the faces...I transport myself to the place I remember forming me into the woman I am today.

Here's the piece I wish for you...I wish that you always remember what you are to so many people. A place where we went, a little scared, a bit overpacked, and apprehensive. A place where we fell in love with each other, where you became a safe place to land over so many years for so many: from campers to employees to visitors. Now I'm a Mom and I can't come back to you the way I used to, but I am so proud of the love we had for each other. I look forward to the day where my daughter heads to camp for the first time and says goodbye to me; after we've set up her bunk, met her counselor, walked the grounds, and shed a couple tears. And I'll come back, and there she'll be greeting me as a confident, brave, excited young woman covered in bug bites with a wicked chaco tan and a new friend family she can't live without. And I'll know, she fell in love with you like I did so many years ago and she'll forever be different. 

Storer Camps, you've changed over the years, and it wasn't always easy to love you. It wasn't always easy to choose you. It was painful when it was time for us to say goodbye, and you sent me into the world--brave, confident, and strong. But you are the FIRST place I go when I need to remember where I learned what love really feels like. 

Always,
Caitlin Hammond
Camper, Counselor, OE Staff, Chaco Nation

 

Dear Camp,

It's been an adventure. Throughout my 13 years at camp, I've amassed memories so mesmerizing and surprising that they sometimes feel too good to be true. During Family Camp, Pioneers, Explorers, EcoCorps, Ranch, Rough Riders, the famous "Boomerang Gang", or sometimes just wandering around aimlessly and admiring the beauty of camp while my dad participates in a board meeting, I've come to realize that Camp has become my favorite place in the world. I've been to The Bahamas, Mexico, Montana, Florida, and The Virgin Islands - and somehow I just can't resist coming back to Jackson, Michigan to visit this little slice of Heaven on Earth. The staff, the facilities, and my fellow campers are amazing and I couldn't ask for better - however I believe the location is what makes camp so special to me and others. Whether it be the cool breeze filtering through the trees from the lake into Frontier, or the midday sunlight streaming into the Malachi windows, the weather always seems to be perfect for the occasion, even when it's raining, snowing, or thunderstorming. When the weather is bad, we enjoy it, perhaps more than any other place on this Earth. The perpetually beautiful sunsets over the lake viewed from South Side and the soft sand under my feet at the Oasis at Ranch remind me of all the incredible lifelong memories I've made with the friends that I still contact daily. Even when I'm staying at "The Love Shack" (or, for Becky's sake, "46 Herdale") I can still feel this sensation just because I'm within a close proximity to camp. That feeling never gets old, prompting me to exclaim "Oh My Stars!" as if Abimbola were standing beside me, and evoking a reminiscing of better times. Better times, where I laughed at DuJuan's hilarious jokes - he will forever be remembered in our hearts as a joyous spirit. So, Camp, Thank you for absolutely everything, because I promise I'll remember my spectacular memories around the great Stony Lake.

~Sam L.

 

 

Seven

The best of seven summers
I fear it will end, but it will be known as
Friendships that last forever
Campfires, motto years, and lasting impressions
Seventh year Trailblazer,
North dock, tree climbing, and hoedowns
Making it to my 5th year celebration 
6th year, Trailblazer
Hammocking, tree climbing, and purple frog days
Fifth year, Trailblazer
Tree climbing, Pink Flamingo day wins, and Saska
4th year Explorer
Paddle Tracks, pontoon parties, and blobbing
3rd year, Pioneer
Snorkeling, Gaga ball, beginning of Motto years
2nd year, Pioneer
Nature hikes, archery, and hay rides
1st year Ottawa
Horses, climbing walls, and first nights
They will be known as
 Seven Years loved
Weeks I would never change
Because of
 People
Places
 You
I Love

(Now read it backward)

Grace D.

 

 

I personally think the world needs more love letters these days, especially now in this challenging time. So this is a love letter is to camp. 10 years ago this month, as a 6th grader, I attended YMCA Storer Camps for the very first time and haven’t stopped going since. I have loved being able to discover myself there and now I have had the opportunity to help others do the same. I know I’ve said this plenty of times before, but thank you Storer for making me who I am today. Thank you for believing in me since I was that home-sick 11 year old girl to the summer of 2018 when I lived and worked there, and never giving up on me. Storer, as always, thank you for being my happy place.

As I grabbed my Storer mug out of the cupboard today, I realized how much I miss this place. Storer is where my heart just feels free. I think it is something to do with the big open fields, the woods and of course my favorite, Stoney Lake. I love being on the water and always have. 

At camp, every person is encouraged to be themselves and that’s what I love most about it. It is where I feel the most comfortable; I know camp has impact like that on most people.

I miss this place every day. 

I want to be eating breakfast in the dining hall, instead of grabbing a granola bar and rushing out of the door. 

I want to be swimming in the beautiful Stoney Lake, instead of sitting in class. 

I want to be singing around the campfire with other campers and counselors, instead of changing the radio stations on the way home from campus… can you see where this is going? 

Camp always makes me smile and I’m so so fortunate to be able to have gone there many times since I was young. Because of camp, I have become more independent, more confident and have learned more (and taught more) life skills than I could anywhere else but camp. I’m really not sure when I’ll be back, but I know that what Storer has taught me during my multiple different stays there can never be taken away from me.

Storer is so special to me.

So to camp, I love you.  

Never change. 

This is a good night and not a good bye!

Until we meet again! 

Lauren H.

 

 

My name is Hannah A.  I started at Camp Storer in the Adventurer Program in 2015, and this summer I will become an Explorer. The last 5 years have been the best summers and have inspired me to peruse a fulltime counselor position once I am old enough. Camp Storer is my home away from home.

The equestrian barn is my favorite because I love horses. Some of my favorite horses have been Lady J, Romeo and Z-Tek. I look forward to riding the horses every year. I am excited that I have been able to go on trail rides and have received lessons on how to care for and ride the horses.

The Nature Center is also one of my favorite stops because some of the animals there have been rescued. Beefcake the turtle is my favorite animal because she reminds me of a hamburger. I have never seen a turtle that is the shape of a hamburger! Beefcake has been a member of Camp Storer for a long time.

I have had lots of fun counselors over the years, but my favorites include Du’Juan and Katie. My first year at camp, Du’Juan was there and made me feel right at home. He was a special counselor to me and is missed. Katie was my counselor for winter camp and both times in the Pioneer group. Katie was very supportive when we were homesick and was creative with activities to do in the cabin. Every staff member at camp is so nice and makes my weeks away from home memorable.

I am really looking forward to my next adventure at Camp Storer!

 

Click here to go back to the Alumni Stories page.

 

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