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Our Summer 2020 Story

Published Tuesday, August 25, 2020 8:00 am

YMCA Storer Camps opened to serve young men in 1918 in the midst of the Spanish Flu pandemic. 102 years later, this motivated our staff to work diligently to be open for campers during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. We knew that it would take enthusiastic campers, responsible staff and parents, a humble spirit, strong leaders and a commitment to serve. 

After months of uncertainty, in mid-June, Michigan camps received the news that we were allowed to open for summer overnight camp. Our leadership team cheered and got right to work to complete all of the changes required to open as safely as possible.  The news came just in time, because we were a few days away from cancelling summer camp 2020.

Our camp counselors and leadership staff arrived for training on June 22; one week later, we hosted Family Camp and our Day Camp opened.   Our first check–in date for summer overnight camp was on July 5, and we served campers at Storer through the end of the month.  In August, we hosted three specialty groups and a virtual camp for Camp Catch-A-Rainbow, children with a cancer diagnosis.  Over 850 campers, volunteers and staff members had a safe, fun and healthy summer at Storer in the midst of a global pandemic (comparatively, we would have nearly 3,000 individuals attend camp in a typical summer).  Programs and schedules were modified, cleaning and sanitization practices enhanced, more handwashing became a routine, food service switched from family-style meals to cafeteria-style serving, check-in and check-out procedures were modified and we learned to “smile” with our eyes when we wore our masks.  Several things remained constant including boating and swimming in Stony Lake, “I’m Third” awards, final campfires, Fifth Year ceremonies, riding horses, loving the outdoors,  cabin bonding and tons of fun!

One parent was grateful that camp was open for for her young camper and shared that it was the best summer of her life.  The camp experience gave her daughter “so much joy” in a difficult time.  Another camper shared that he was more prepared for school because he was learning to wear his mask.  Parent after parent thanked us for being open because their child needed a break from reality.

As I write this letter, I am missing the chimes and drum beats of high school band camps that would normally be here in August.  I miss greeting our new Program Educators arriving for training for Outdoor Education.  Sadly, Outdoor Education is temporarily suspended until the virus settles down.  Because of that, we are working with reduced staffing, trimming expenses and shuttering buildings until late next winter or early spring. For fall, we will be hosting a few small day programs and a Family Day for Camp Catch-A-Rainbow. We will also start to register for summer camp 2021 in October.

We need your help.  We need to sustain camp through the next few seasons, so we are ready to make magic and memories happen for our campers and students in the future.  If you would like to donate funds to “Feed the Steed” (our horses and small animals) or sustaining funds (so we are ready to receive campers in the future) please give at www.ymcastorercamps.org/forms/make-a-donation or mail a check to YMCA Storer Camps 6941 Stony Lake Rd. Jackson, MI 49201.

Just as 102 years ago and over the decades, we will continue to be a place where children develop minds for learning, bodies ready for action and hearts for loving.   I hope that the character, memories, and friendships developed at camp will help you and your family successfully navigate through this difficult time.

Becky Spencer
V.P. of Camping Services

 

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