YMCA Camp Storer

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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.  This week's letter comes from Storer Alum Caitlin Hammond.


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. 

Caitlin Hammond
Camper, Counselor, OE Staff, Chaco Nation


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