I am a niece to Mary Jane, the Girls Camp director, and parent of two current campers, one boy and one girl. Our oldest daughter was a CIT in 2018. My current job at camp is shared program director. My first introduction to camp was in 1993 as a counselor. This was my 12th summer at Mishawaka.
As I have grown and changed over the years, camp really hasn’t. In fact, I just found the camp brochure from 1993 with the camper schedule and it is pretty much the same. Time at Mishawaka provides the opportunity to see campers grow in their own skin, take on activities that may be out of their comfort zone, try new things, navigate community living and have those cheek hurting, tears streaming down your face laughing moments that create lifelong memories. I have been lucky to be a small part of the experience for my kids. It is unique that I get to have glimpses of them while they are at camp, at sign up and circling up after the evening activity for my daughters, or at the salad bar or before meals for my son. While I believe that they have their own camp experience without my interference, I get a general pulse on their well being. My favorite time is on the drive home, as they recap some stories from start to finish, and others begin but seem to fade in to their own minds before finishing the story. It leaves me to wonder, but I get the sense that they are reliving the memory and trying to freeze it. Each summer when we get home, little things come out over time about experiences that I can tell have shaped them. Sometimes it is activities that they never would have gotten to try if they hadn’t been to camp, or conversations with campers or staff that they never would have met if it wasn’t for Mishawaka.
I wouldn’t have needed to be at camp to feel their growth and sense their appreciation and love they have for their weeks at camp. In the fall, when they announce in the middle of dinner with grandparents that they “just can’t wait to go to camp” or in the spring on a Sunday afternoon that “there are 93 days left until camp and I am soooo excited,” anyone around knows how important it is to them. It is so hard to put into words what camp is, but when we get home and get together with our neighbors, they all know too that something really important and awesome went on while we were away.
See you next summer!