by Bob Strodel, Executive Director
I’ve heard it said that your most favorite music is probably the tunes you enjoyed in high school. That’s not surprising as the developmental years in life are so formative and make such long lasting impressions. One of the BEST parts of my job at camp is visiting and catching up with alumni, and the FUN part of that is hearing “old camp stories.”
Last week I enjoyed a phone call with an alumnus, both a Brookwoods camper and staff member from the 1950’s. He is 83 years old and his memory of his camp days seemed as sharp as the day he served. His enthusiasm was contagious as he regaled me with camp stories, including the ability to recall the names of his fellow staff members and some of the challenges they faced “back in the day.” I was ready to hire him once again on our waterfront staff!
Occasionally, I post a “Throwback Thursday” picture on my personal Facebook page. I’m always fascinated to see the comments unfold from alumni that recognize themselves or their friends who were “tagged” in the photograph. The comments are never anything like, “that was the worst time of my life,” but rather tend toward wonderful, uplifting memories of people, places, and events they enjoyed at camp and look back on fondly. Last week, I posted a photo of the 1981 Deer Run CITs. It resulted in a long string of comments, including: “Such wonderful memories”…”Oh, to be a kid again”…” You look the same”…” That was a great summer.”
There is something special about summer camp—I call it “Summer Magic.” The temporary community we call camp manages to form experiences, friendships, and memories that last a lifetime. At Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost, this is what we try to encourage through our programs: shared experiences, appropriate challenges, and conversations about life and our Lord.
Parents who have made the camp investment for their kids, also see this growth and development. If I could summarize the most frequent feedback I’ve received from parents over the last 26 years, it could be categorized in these three areas:
- What did you “do” to my kid at camp? They now clean their room and read their Bible.
- How do you get such a great set of people at camp? My kid(s)’ best friends are all from camp and they are such a positive influence.
- Where did you find such great staff?
Of course, not every child is a good match for camp experiences, but I’ve enjoyed seeing the high rate of “happy campers.” And when parents can help prepare their children for the camp experience, this can help even more campers be successful in our camp environment. Currently we are confident that on June 28th we will be able to welcome campers at Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost. That date is two months away and while we don’t want to ignore what is happening around the world, we believe this period is a “blizzard” and not an “ice age.” I know that parents want to send their kids to camp this summer after the disruption to normal life, the extended distance education experience, and the need to get out of the house for recreation, fun, and interaction with friends. Our hope is that we will be able to provide a safe place for that to happen. We are continuing to accept applications for the summer and spaces continue to fill up. Some of our sessions are 100% filled, but others still have a few spaces. Please tell your friends and family members about our wonderful camps. We are happy to send out New Information Packages to anyone who requests one.
Please feel free to reach out and contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Camp is a happy place, and we are excited to prepare for a fun summer.
Bob Strodel has been the Executive Director at Christian Camps and Conferences, Inc. since 1995, and this summer will be his 46th at Brookwoods! His favorite camp activity is model rockets.