In the dead of winter, the Camp Joy team committed ourselves to having summer camp this year no matter what. We had no idea what we were in for, or even what the world would look like six months in the future. All we knew for certain was that kids need camp and our job is to make it happen. Fast-forward to today: summer is now upon us and I am so pleased to report that every day feels better than the last!
With fresh eyes and deep gratitude, I’m seeing so many parts of daily camp life that I took for granted in years past. I can be spotted enthusiastically waving hello when I see new and returning camp counselors (lots of them!) from across a freshly-mowed field. Cars zip down the gravel road at speeds dangerously close to our 14mph speed limit, making me glad to see someone kicking up dust with somewhere important to be at Joy. As I write this, two camp counselors ran past my window in a foot race at speeds that definitely appear to have broken that 14mph speed limit! Cookies are baking in the kitchen, the pool is sparkling clear, hammocks hang under shade trees at the Yurt Village, peaches are slowly ripening in the orchard, canoe gardens are filled with vegetables of all sorts, Matilda the friendly gray rat snake and Ollie the curmudgeonly dove are back in the Nature Center, and there is music! Singing, guitar playing, and all kinds of tunes at high volume. It’s all a delight, the very finest of simple pleasures – each of them warm my heart!
We’re just getting started! Our corps of 50 energetic summer staff kicked off two weeks of training on May 24 in preparation for the return of campers on June 6. Over the next three months we will welcome over 1,200 kids in collaboration with 38 partner organizations to The Summer of Games and Glory. Not to mention the over 500 kids we will serve off-site and virtually. It feels almost cavalier of me to rattle off those numbers after a year without campers! The incomparable Camp Joy team poured their hearts into making it a reality even when we had not much to go on but faith that summer would see us in a better place. And, here we are: seasons of sharpening our pencils and tackling complex challenges we couldn’t see past has culminated in the very best of simple pleasures. The unsung moments that can so easily pass us by if we’re not paying attention have turned out to be practically everything.
What will it mean to a kid at Camp Joy this summer and bask in simple pleasures?
I’ll let camper turned counselor Shakobe Walker do the talking: “As a camper, Camp Joy has always been a week of fresh air for me where I can breathe and feel free. My goal as a counselor has always been to make sure my campers have that same feeling. Being a part of the Joy Family has been one of the most fulfilling decisions in my life. Seeing the happiness on our campers faces makes everything so worth it. Camp Joy made such an impact on my life as a camper with all the special moments that were made for me from my counselors in the past.”
It doesn’t get better than this: the numbers are good, our doors are open, the team is buzzing with anticipation. We have a whole summer of special moments before us just waiting to be discovered with the kids who need camp now more than ever.
Interested in how you can play a part in supporting camp experiences for kids?Reach out to our Philanthropy team for ideas on how you can make an impact – from writing notes to our campers to making a donation to provide camp to more kids.
It is an absolute pleasure and a great honor to welcome back campers for a new season. Onward!