As summer is rolling right along, we've asked a few campers to write about their favorite parts and experiences at Camp Henry to share with all of you. Here is what Erin has to share about her experiences at Camp Henry and in Waterskiing and Wakeboarding Camp.
I’ve been going to Camp Henry for 6 years now and it has always been one of my favorite places to go in the summer. You get to try so many new things and meet so many great people. Everyday, you do some activities with your cabin and some with your brother cabin. You also get to choose some activities to do four mornings a week with anyone else in camp.
However, there are alternatives to the regular morning activities. For example, the past two years I have done water skiing and wakeboarding camp. I’ve gotten into wakeboarding and Camp Henry has an awesome program for people who like wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing, etc. that you get to do during the morning activities. It’s so much fun and you get to learn new tricks, or if you’ve never done wakeboarding or water skiing before then you can learn how to.
Every night at Camp Henry you close off with some all camp games or campfires, which are always so much fun and I look forward to them everyday. Camp Henry is a great place to spend part of my summer and I will be going for as long as I can.
Erin Overholt is 15 years old and this summer was her 6th time at Camp Henry. She has loved going every time. Erin will be a sophomore at Forest Hills Northern High School. She wakeboards and snowboards and loves to play sports like basketball, soccer, cross country and crew. Erin also has a younger sister named Emily who also attends Camp Henry every summer.
As summer is rolling right along, we've asked a few campers to write about their favorite parts and experiences at Camp Henry to share with all of you. Here is what Quinn Kirby, a long time senior camper, has to say about her time at camp.
Ever since I started coming to camp six years ago, it has always been a place of complete and utter acceptance and support. Chapel is a feel-good experience every day, and the messages that flow so freely through the staff's skits are uplifting to anyone who hears them.
It isn't the sense of belonging that brings me back year after year, although that alone would most definitely keep me coming back. It's the camaraderie, the bonding with your cabin and the complete overflow of activities that makes camp seem more like an amusement park rather than just 200-acres of land.
Take, for example, my personal favorite choice of a morning activity-rock camp. Rock camp is not, in fact, an intense, research-filled, daily expedition for quartz, petosky and other stones and minerals, but a fifty minute section of the day cut out completely for music. You never know what you're going to get each week. You could sing a barrage of Beatles songs, worship songs that make you feel like dancing, or secular songs that never fail to get everyone on their feet.
That said, at the end of the week, the camp enjoys a talent show where anyone can perform. This has become a personal tradition for me to write a song and sing along with my guitar. The support by the camp by the time I'm off stage is one of the happiest things I've ever felt.
Camp has taught me to love myself and to stand up for my beliefs, even if I'm the only one standing.
By: Amy VanHaren
Summer has officially arrived and with it a familiar five senses attachment to summer camp. Like having an invisible thread, or a piece of yarn from a get-to-know-you cabin activity on my finger, there is physical connection to Camp Henry that arises every June when a new batch of counselors gather on the A-field for Staff Training. It's as if those of us who have been there before are still part of that circle, still linked to the adventure of what lies ahead.
I'm right back in the dining hall when my daughter slams the door on our screen porch or sings "Bringing Home My Baby Bumblebee" in the back seat of the car. I catch the smell 0f camp in the air just before a rainstorm, on my swimsuit as it hangs, drying out from the lake, in passing the horse barn up the street. The sight of dew on the grass and a light foggy mist over the backyard at 6 a.m. make me feel like I'm walking to an early staff meeting instead of work, with the flag pole trivia questions running through my head rather than the day's marketing meeting agenda. I feel camp anytime I sit on wood in the evening - whether a dock or a log - and am always taken right back to a floating campfire or the opening campfire or better yet, a sacred ceremony.
I feel camp on Friday nights and Wednesday mornings and Monday afternoon rest periods. I still feel the excitement of check-ins and the bittersweet emotions of Saturday send-offs.
There is nothing, however, that makes me feel camp's roots in my soul more than Sunday evenings. For that's when time shifts, when the week begins, when you slip into your own world to let the magic of camp really set in.
Sunday nights are when you go on Camp Time.
On Sunday night on the shores of Lake Kimball, after you've made it through the introductions and the swim test and the elevated noise of the dining hall, and you are tucking into bed to the sound of mosquitos buzzing, and bunk beds creaking, and the security of knowing your counselor is present in the room this time, you turn your clocks back one hour. Really, you do. You ignore the laws of time zones and the master universe and the rhythms of the world everywhere outside Camp Henry and you make time work for you.
You gain an hour of sleep and awake to the sense that this place - this camp - is really something special. This place has gumption. And you, by proxy of being at camp, have gumption too. You, are something special too.
This shift happens week after week and there are many times when it seems crazy to go forward and back, and forward and back - especially as a staffer when it affects your sleep (and a little of your sanity).
But always, there is more light in the morning. More dark in the evening. There is the magic of knowing you are all in a pocket, in a place, where you control what happens and even time bends to your whim.
I've come to see that that actual time shift, is really just a metaphor for the true shifting that takes place at camp. The way you subtly let yourself take more time to laugh. To sing. To sit on the H dock and watch the sunrise. To make friends with people you wouldn't think to in a normal time zone. To make way for being silly, spending hours in conversation, getting absorbed in a friendship bracelet or a frog hunt, or a song chorus that never ends. (Down her nose, to her toes! And she whistles while the...)
Camp Time is not about the numbers on the clock but about the state of your heart. The subtle shift in your soul. The surrender to an experience that demands your attention so completely and rewards you so richly.
I'm now removed from Camp Time, and not turning my numbers back on Sunday nights anymore, but along with the invasion of the senses, that feeling of Camp Time returns for me every year. I notice that stirring to slow down and make a little more time for the things that matter in life.
To appreciate people; to sit down at dinner and connect. To linger over the sunset and play certain songs on repeat. To turn off the technology and constant "to do list" and just be present in the moment. To call old camp friends.
Camp Time has taught me that you can control where your energy goes. It's taught me that deep relationships happen when you commit yourself fully to a moment, when you listen completely to a person and see them - really see them. It's taught me that tent time is the best time, forks are for dorks, the chocolate skit is always a bad idea - but hilarious to kids, that the boy loved the tree, and that you actually can jump off the green raft/play a guitar in front of people/ride a horse with no saddle in the dark/wear a bathing suit and tennis shoes (only a bathing suit and tennis shoes).
Most of all, Camp Time has taught me that the moments move too fast in life, that you must embrace them. Because whether in Michigan or Maine, not even controlling the time can make it stop.
I feel fortunate to see so many others connected to camp still living on Camp Time. Just this past week, there were signs of it all around me: The ten lovely camp ladies I adore sent a fury of emails and photos getting ready for the newest Hanks Honey's weekend, Sarah Hammer sat next to me on my porch, Nick Koster taught his new family to wakeboard for the first time, and the inspiring Trout Steak Revival - made up of Travis, Casey, and Will - three guys who used to play guitar at PJ sing - won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival! And that's only the beginning. I see Camp Time taking place all around (mostly in my Facebook feed but thank goodness there is a place to remain visually connected!) and it makes me feel as though I'm still back in that pocket, in that time warp.
I hope to never go off Camp Time. I hope to teach my daughter that special camp time spirit and to continue to help Camp Henry give others the gift of Camp Time. I hope to keep it going until I am out of time.
Maybe, if like me, you feel the pull, we should all turn our clocks back once a year, during the first week of camp, and imagine we're in our bunks, trying to sleep without fear and overrun excitement, and wake up knowing we have an extra hour and a whole week - a whole summer - of magic before us.
Amy VanHaren is becoming a regular alumni blog poster for Camp Henry. She wrote a post for Camp back in March 2014 that you can't miss, check it out here. Amy is the owner of VanHaren Creative, a social media marketing company. Her first visit to Camp Henry was for mini-camp at age 7. She stayed in the Ottawa cabin and had so much fun she came back for an entire week that summer and kept coming back every year until she turned 17 when she went on work as Camp Henry staffer for 10 summers. Stay tuned for more posts from Amy and keep up with her on Facebook and Instagram.
Next Sunday, June 29th, Camp Sunshine will arrive on the shores for their first summer at Camp Henry. Maureen Sullivan from Camp Sunshine took a moment from preparing for Camp Sunshine at Camp Henry to reflect and share what Camp Sunshine is all about.
"In just a few short days Camp Sunshine will host its first session at Camp Henry. Established in 1983, Camp Sunshine provides an opportunity for people ages 12 – 50 with special needs to experience summer camp just as other children and young adults do.
Camp Sunshine is fueled by the hard work and effort of more than 500 volunteers each year. When campers arrive for the inaugural session at Camp Henry on June 29 they will be greeted by a familiar group of volunteers. These friendly faces belong to former counselors who will be returning to serve in a new capacity. The Professional Alumni Group (PAG) is made up of young professionals who have previously served as counselors at Camp Sunshine and are ready to serve in a greater capacity.
All of the PAGs have at least three years of experience at Camp Sunshine, and some up to seven years. They are college graduates whose experience at Camp Sunshine impacted them personally and professionally. Their professions include teachers, social workers, nurses, business professionals, coaches, youth group leaders, athletic director, among others.
For some people who associate Camp Sunshine with a particular location, having camp at Camp Henry is scary. They think it won't be the same. The PAGs will provide continuity from Camp Blodgett to Camp Henry and help to carry on the traditions of Camp Sunshine in its new location. They will embody our vow to be "one camp in two locations." They will serve as mentors to counselors, facilitate cabin team building, provide breaks to counselors and much more. In addition to their leadership role, the PAGs will also serve as trouble shooters, taking charge to do whatever is needed during camp.
What would motivate a 20-something professional to take vacation from a new job to volunteer at Camp Sunshine? The depth of emotion one feels about volunteering at Camp Sunshine is best summarized by this male PAG:
Camp Sunshine is not a place or an event to me. It's more of a state of mind. We are being tasked to create an environment that a very special population can enjoy things they don't typically get to experience. I chose to be a part of Camp Sunshine many years ago because I wanted to help make a difference in one special person's life, yet I experienced a profound change in mine because of them. This special population can change you; they will grab you and not let go; they will relentlessly welcome you every morning with an "I love you." They can give you energy that you never thought you had; you will do things with and for them that you never thought you would do; and most importantly, the memories of them will be with you forever.
Those who volunteer at Camp Sunshine have the privilege of seeing life through the eyes of a person with developmental disabilities. This experience increases tolerance and personal awareness, reduces stigmas, and creates lifelong friendships. Here's how a female PAG describes the experience:
I think that Camp Sunshine as a whole is inspiring. The people who volunteer their time are one thing, but the people who come--the population we serve--THEY are the inspiring ones. Being able to see, even just for a brief few days, the world through new eyes is so humbling. Each year, I leave camp exhausted, but blessed; feeling humbled to have been able to sacrifice a sliver of my time to friends who cherish those moments all year long.
I usually shed some tears at camp--exhaustion, frustration, love, and happiness. I am always in awe, each year, of the ability of the individual campers to get up each new day, and teach me something new about the world; to show me something I hadn't seen before. To teach me that life is to be celebrated, enjoyed, and cherished with enthusiasm. To teach me to look challenges square in the face and meet them head on. Life is coming at us, and we can choose to close our eyes and ignore the ugly parts and the challenging moments or we can choose to stand up (or wheel ourselves forward!!) and greet it head on and change it into something beautiful.
At camp, you can't go unnoticed. There are campers who will MAKE SURE you are greeted, you are hugged, your hand is shaken and a smile is shared. Even now, thinking about the upcoming week makes me smile. The thing that ALWAYS gets me, every year is the gratitude, the smiles, the JOY that is in this place.
Lives are transformed at Camp Sunshine, campers and volunteers alike. Lifelong friendships are created. In fact, several of our program staff met their spouses while volunteering at Camp Sunshine! On June 29 when campers arrive for the first ever session of Camp Sunshine at Camp Henry, the magic will begin again."
To learn more about Camp Sunshine, you can visit their website.There is information for campers, counselors and those who wish to support Camp Sunshine through volunteering their time or through donations. Camp Henry is very excited to be hosting Camp Sunshine and is looking forward to having Camp Sunshine become a tradition.
Callie Ogland-Hand, a Camp Henry camper shares her experiences as a camper with us and the impact Camp Henry has had on her life. She returns to Camp Henry for her final summer as a camper in a few short weeks.
As a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, I started going to Camp Henry when I was 2 years old with my family at Family Camp. Then, I attended Day Camp, making crafts with JJ in the Nicely Center and playing games on the B-Field. After 2 years of Day Camp and 3 years of Mini Week, I was finally old enough and comfortable enough to go to a full week of camp.
I vividly remember the first time I stayed in one of the new cabins, Commanche. My counselors were Beth and Leah. They were best friends who loved every minute they spent at Camp. I remember them so well because they were always laughing and cracking jokes, and trying to make us young campers have the most enjoyable and fun experience possible. They were so comfortable with themselves and they perfectly embodied Camp's easy going and comforting atmosphere. It still amazes me how Camp staff seem to be the most wonderful, kind, and loving people imaginable.
One of the mistakes I regret most in my life is the summer after fifth grade, when I did not return to Camp. Looking back, I can't help but wonder what kind of a person I would be today had I continued going and been surrounded by the positive and loving people at Camp. Fortunately, Jake and some year-round staff visited Westminster's youth group last year, when I was a sophomore, to promote Camp Henry. Even after 5 years of not going to Camp, Jake still remembered me as a young camper and said it was fun to see me grown up. I signed up for Summer Camp again. Having a cottage on Kimball Lake and being a part of Westminster Church, I was still connected to Camp Henry through Westminster by the Lake and Family Camp, however I was a little nervous to go back to Camp after not attending for a few years.
Although some things had changed, like the Green Raft and the Camp Store, Camp's core values and atmosphere had stayed the same. I was immediately welcomed and immersed into Camp life and throughout the week I was continually amazed at the kindness and love that Camp embodies. I am so happy to say that I signed up for Camp this summer and I am excited to go back!
I am having a hard time putting in to words what makes Camp so great. I think it is the combination of everything—the relaxed atmosphere, the encouraging and accepting environment, the loving and kind counselors, and the focus on what it means to be a follower of Christ and doing good in the world—that makes Camp such an amazing and wonderful place.
Camp has easily been the highlight of my summers and is one of my favorite places to be. Camp Henry has a way of bringing the good out of every single person and it provides people with countless opportunities to be a better version of themselves and to learn and grow. It is sad that after this summer, I will be too old to be a summer camper, however I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to come back to Camp before it was too late.
Sherrill Vore, a leader and member at Westminster, has been a huge part of my family's experience at Church and at Family Camp. She describes Camp Henry so well: it is a sacred space. It is special, a place where you grow individually, with others, and in your faith. That's what Camp Henry is to me.
By Stephanie Wojtkowski
The last time I was at Camp Henry was in in 1988. I had graduated that previous May from Alma College and was not quite ready to give up my summers of camping fun on the shores of Old Lake Kimball. This was my final gift to myself, one more summer after many years as a camper, then a CIT, counselor and Arts and Crafts director before heading into the real world. When I left camp at the end of summer I took a parting gift, a little black kitten I named Millar.
I watched Camp Henry change and grow through the years. The director I had worked for and loved, Ron Goodyke retired. Jeff Jacobs, who had once worked with me as a counselor, took over the reins, and I knew all was well at camp. So even though I was not there, I knew in my heart, that in the summer every Sunday night there would be an opening camp fire and every Friday a closing indian campfire.
This year the camp counselor tradition is being passed on in my family. My daughter Madison is headed off to Camp Henry. Now it is her turn to experience the joy of being a Camp Henry counselor!
Madison has heard many stories of camp through the years. She thought it was hilarious that I used to ride a horse into camp as Stinkin Steph with Mad Dog Merrick and hold up the dining hall which had been transformed into a saloon.
Madison leaves for her summer at camp this Friday. This morning I went into her room to wake her up and something caught my eye. Something so simple, so plain, a black waterproof watch, similar to the one I wore each summer at camp. And for a moment I wished it was me, that I was going to be putting on that watch and heading off to camp.
Stephanie Wojtkowski returned to the shores in March 2014 to drop Madison off for a Summer Staff Retreat. She hadn't been back in years, yet all the memories came flooding back. A big thanks to Stephanie for writing this month's alumni blog post.
If you were or are apart of Camp Henry and would like to share your story or memories of Camp Henry, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Rustem, a former camper and staff member at Camp Henry, took a moment to look back on all her years at Camp Henry and has a wonderful story to tell from her experiences!
From Caterpillar to Butterfly: How Camp Henry Changed My Life
It isn't every day you get the opportunity to share memories from one of your favorite places with the rest of the world, but I am one of the lucky few who has been given that chance.
During my last few summers working at Camp Henry, campers and staff were likely to find me chanting at the top of my lungs, eating out of my cabin's "gut bucket", pulling snacks out of my pocket, or even refraining from showering for an entire week in the name of "stink". I was, and continue to be, confident and comfortable in my own skin whether it's covered in paint or clad with a 1980s frock.
Many people today would probably be surprised that I was not always a lover of my own quirks nor did I always have the confidence to crawl on stage during the rules of flashlight tag. Those with whom I worked during my first summer as a counselor in 2007 probably remember me as a shy, quiet person who laughed often, but only spoke out of necessity. I was always cheerful, but found myself intimidated by the seemingly outlandish traditions and high level energy that the other staff members managed to bring from the first day of staff training.
I knew that camp was a judgment free zone since I had experienced it first-hand as a camper. However, I kept to myself for fear that my true quirkiness was beyond the tolerable level of "weirdness" that was camp. As a high school student, I had allowed myself to fade into the background and preferred being overlooked and invisible over taunted and teased. I had unknowingly built an armored wall around myself. Given how shy I used to be, to this day I could not tell you what possessed me to apply for a counselor position in March of 2007 as a 19-year-old kid without a single friend on staff. Perhaps I wanted the challenge of growing into myself while helping kids find their own path in life. In any case, I was terrified.
With each passing day as a staff member, however, I realized that camp really was a special place where judgment of individuals' unique personalities was embraced—a place where "flaws" were viewed as positive attributes and "normal" was absent from our vocabulary. Rather than feeling ostracized for things I viewed as "abnormal" about myself, they were embraced. I could feel my wall coming down stone by stone. I was no longer afraid of letting others really see me. I felt myself transforming from a caterpillar into a butterfly.
What I learned during that first summer on staff was that the location doesn't make a place special, it's the people. I am one of the lucky few that has had the opportunity to grow up at Camp Henry as both a camper and a staff member. I've learned to love myself and share my quirks with the world thanks to the amazing staff members and, most importantly, campers, I now consider my family.
We often talked about the "Magic of Camp" which made it different from the "real world". What I'm realizing now, however, is that the true magic lives in the hearts of the campers that attend and the staff that support them. It can be carried away from camp and shared with the "real world". The camp experience does not need to begin and end at 5575 Gordon Ave, but a small piece of it lives on wherever you might go. Even though I am now a Camp Henry camper and staff alumni, I know that camp lives on in my heart because of the people I had the chance to know.
While at camp, I learned to embrace the "powdered donut" and that no matter how ridiculous a nickname is, it is ALWAYS a term of endearment. So, yell at the top of your lungs, run as fast as you can, and roll in the mud. After all, life is to be lived out loud, not hiding behind a wall.
If you allow it to happen, camp will change your life forever. Embrace its people and traditions and you, too, can become your own sort of butterfly.
Stephanie "Rustamove, Rustemus Prime, Crusty, Aunt Jemima" Rrrrrustem
Stephanie Rustem is currently the Assistant Director for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs Youth Camp in Chelsea, Michigan. She received her Master of Science degree in Community Sustainability in May 2014 and hopes to pursue a career in environmental education and youth development at the end of the summer. Stephanie was a two-time Camp Henry Teen Challenge camper to South Manitou Island at the ages of 15 and 16. She stayed in Dome Village before it saw its demise from a tree. She returned to camp at the age of 19 and served as a counselor, nature director, and assistant director over the next 7 years.
Over the past 8 years, we have had over 10,000 campers come to Camp Henry for summer camp and we have nearly 1,200 campers signed up to come this summer already! But why do they come? What is it that makes them want to come or return year after year? You can ask any staff member, past or present, and they can give you a million reasons why. But that still doesn't answer why the campers return year after year. So we asked several campers to tell us what they love about camp and why they keep coming back! We found that regardless of age, each camper fell in love with Camp Henry, tried new things, challenged themselves, made new friends, learned how to work as a team or cabin, and grew as a individual during their time here.
In our last blog post, you had the opportunity to hear from one of Camp Henry's long time campers, Molly Malnor, about the impact camp had on her life and why she loves camp. Here's another opportunity to get to know more about the campers that come to Camp Henry and why they love it. I'll let their responses do the rest of the talking. Here's a quick introduction to the campers, followed by their responses to our questions about why Camp is awesome and what they love the most!
Meet Allie Cole
Allie is 6 going on 7 in June and she first attended Camp Henry as a family camper at the ripe old age of 13 months.. The first time she went to camp by herself was when she was 5 and attended day camp. She is very excited to be attending mini week for the first time this summer. Allie found out about camp through her older sisters, Katelynn and Kimberly. Allie's favorite activity at camp is riding the horses.
Meet Katelynn Cole
Katelynn is 9 years old and first attended Camp Henry as a family camper at the age of 3. Yes, she is one of Allie's big sister! She has also been a day camper for 3 years and a mini week camper for one year. Katelynn's favorite activity at camp is skittle skattle battle because you get to eat skittles!
Meet Nadia Bowman
Nadia first came to camp when she was 9 years old. She has been coming for 8 years but she first heard about Camp Henry through her cousin. Nadia has been a camper for many different kinds of camps, from mini week to frontier, water sports, teen challenge and service crew. She is looking forward to her first summer as an AC or Assistant Counselor.
Meet Kurt Swieter
Kurt started coming to Camp Henry when he was 7 years old. This will be his 11th summer on the shores. Before attending Camp Henry, he spent time at his grandparent's cottage on Lake Kimball and couldn't wait to be old enough to come to camp. Kurt enjoys playing the various all camp games and loves a good game of four square.
Meet Catherine Croft
Catherine came to Camp Henry for her first summer when she was 14. She has come back three years in a row and is now looking forward to be an AC. She found out about camp through her friend, Ellie, and decided to come because it sounded like a fun place. Catherine loves going to Chapel every morning and looks forward to nights around the campfire, singing songs and watching silly skits.
Meet Raina Rodriguez
Raina, like Catherine, didn't discover Camp Henry until she was in her teens. But that didn't stop her from loving it! Her first camp experience was Olympics Week and she had a blast! Raina's favorite camp activity is outdoor cooking, making s'mores and hobo pies!
What is your favorite morning or cabin activity?
"My favorite is definitely vespers. It gave us a chance to bond with each other along with a brother cabin as well" Raina
""I like the nature hikes, especially the wetland trail" Katelynn
"My favorite cabin activity would have to be on the first night where we all dress up to a theme of our choice. One year my cabin was lumberjacks and another year we all dressed up in rainbow colors." Nadia
"I liked doing water-ski camp. I also love foursquare and outdoor cooking." Kurt
What is your favorite camp song?
"Country roads, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Lord of the Dance, Big Yellow Taxi and Washed by the Water." Kurt
"I love the "peel banana" song [banana song] and "frog in the bog" [rattlin bog song]." Catherine *you don't even have to know the name of the song to love it!
"The banana song" Katelynn
"The chipmunk song" Allie
"Sing Hallelujah to The Lord is definitely my favorite" Raina
Have you tried anything new while you were at Camp Henry? How did it go? Were you scared or excited to try it? Were you glad you tried it?
"Banana boat and slide on the raft. I was scared but after not so scared, but still kind of scared. Going down was fun but going underwater was scary." Allie
"Every year I try something new at Camp, from doing my first lake swim to walking blind folded along the high ropes course. It is so amazing to try something new at camp because you have so much support from your cabin mates and staff. It is very exciting to try something new. At first I was really hesitant but once I took my first stroke or my first step, I knew I could do it. My favorite new thing I tried at camp was going down the zip line on the high ropes course for the first time. I was so scared at first and it took some time, but with my cabin and counselor supporting me, I knew I could do it." Nadia
"The high ropes course. I was always afraid of heights, it was a great to challenge myself and know that my friends and counselors were supporting me. After I was done it was great because I felt as though I had conquered one of my fears." Kurt
"I tried the ropes course and the zip line. I was very scared because I'm not a huge fan of heights, but I decided that I would regret it later if I didn't try it. I was so glad I tried it because it ended up being a lot of fun and it made me happy that I was able to overcome my fear." Catherine
What is your favorite food at Camp?
"Pizza, chocolate milk, and ice cream on the first night." Kurt
"The outdoor cookout burgers!" Raina
"My favorite food at Camp is the French toast." Catherine
Who do you look up to the most at Camp Henry? Why?
"I look up to the counselors the most because they relate well to the campers and always know what to do when there is a challenging situation." Catherine
"I look up to Jake or Kelly the most and I look up to them because they always know what to do and they are really fun." Katelynn
"Who I look up to the most would be the counselors and the staff at Camp because all of them are so nice, patient, and selfless. They are the prefect role models to follow. I think those are ideal qualities in a good Camp counselor." Nadia
"Probably Kirty. Everyone loves her and she loves everyone. I've only had 2 weeks with her at camp but she has definitely inspired me." Raina
"Claudia the AC, because she is fun and she likes to play with me." Allie
"David. He's a great guy, he's interesting, he shares great stories and his faith. It is cool because even though he is in England, he still is looking out for me, or sending me a message every once I a while. He's always there to talk to. I really look up to him, and want to have a positive influence on campers lives just as he did on mine." Kurt
What is your favorite evening activity?
"Capture the flag, I enjoy the all-camp games." Kurt
"My favorite nighttime activity would have to be PJ sing. It's so much fun because we all just get to sing and dance to our hearts content." Nadia
"My favorite nighttime activity is the campfires because I like the songs we sing and the skits we get to watch." Catherine
If you had the opportunity to tell a brand new camper something about Camp Henry, what would it be?
"I would tell them that they just found their second home & they'll never be the same. Especially after the sacred ceremony on the last night or the beach bonfire if you do Olympic Week." Raina
"I would tell them my favorite things about camp horseback riding or swimming and what they get to try." Katelynn
"If I had the opportunity to tell a brand new camper something about Camp, it would be, to be your inner crazy self and don't be afraid to make mistakes or try something new. Camp Henry is a place where you can be yourself and no one will put your down for it. You can be crazy and others will be crazy with you." Nadia
"Try new things, go out on a limb, and enjoy every second of it." Kurt
"I would tell them that they are going to have an unforgettable week full of adventure, laughter, friendship, and fun" Catherine
"I would tell them that it is lots of fun." Allie
Do you want to work at Camp Henry when you are old enough? And if so, what job at Camp Henry would you like?
"Yes, I would want to be wrangler" Allie
"Yes, I would be an Assistant Counselor" Katelynn
"I would love to be a counselor, I always looked up to my counselors and admired them. I can say they have all influenced me to be a better person, and I would like to do the same for campers." Kurt
"I would LOVE to be a counselor if my future college schedule allows that to happen. I've loved my counselor and they're inspired me. I want to be able to do the same for other kids!" Raina
"I would definitely love to work at Camp in the near future. It would be so much fun! I think any job at camp would be great because no matter what job I would have, I would still be at Camp and be surrounded by a loving family." Nadia
What was your favorite part of going to a specialty camp?
"I did the [Teen Challenge] trip to Alaska in 2012. It was a life changing experience and I was able to share it with my best friends. It was cool because before the trip we had a meeting a to talk through the itinerary and meet everyone. Everyone knew everyone through other camp related experiences, but there were two girls new to Camp Henry. Before the meeting was over it was like these girls had been to camp for 10 years and they really meshed with the group. By the end of the 2 weeks we were all so close." Kurt
"My favorite part about going to these camps is participating in the activity for the week and meeting new people who are also interested in the same adventure as you are. Like riding horses for a whole week and wake boarding everyday. Teen Challenge is also really great because you get to experience new places like South Manitoulin and Pictures Rocks. Service Crew is really fun too because I get to give back to a place that has already given me so much." Nadia
"I have been a part of a teen challenge camp. My group went to West Virginia for a white water rafting and rock climbing adventure. My favorite part about going to the camp was meeting new friends, overcoming fears, and the crazy fun car ride to West Virginia and back. I also cooked a cake over a fire for the first time!" Catherine
If you had the opportunity to help other kids get to Camp Henry, for example, participating in IronKid, would you help?
"Yes! And we are doing IronKid" Allie and Katelynn
"I would definitely love to help other kids get to Camp because I think every child should experience such a wonderful place. It's a place where everybody can goof around, have fun, and make new friends. I would be very interested in participating in IronKid." Nadia
"Yes, I think everybody deserves to go to summer camp. This is the reason I am doing Camp Sunshine, I want to give people the opportunity to go to camp who are not usually able to."
"I would definitely help other kids get to Camp if I had the opportunity. I would help because I don't want anything to get in the way of those kids missing out on the amazing Camp Henry experience." Catherine
"I would! I've been a kid who has applied and used scholarships because my mom couldn't quite afford camp for both my brother and I." Raina
If you were in charge of Camp Henry for one day, what would that day look like? (You get to choose what everyone does!)
"Well, it would be a little bit of each activity that you can get to. I would cram as much camp in as I could!" Katelynn
"We would play capture the flag and have night chapel with all the classic songs." Kurt
"The only thing I would add to a perfect Camp Henry day is a huge paint fight!" Raina
"Lots of horseback riding and swimming" Allie
What is it about Camp Henry that makes you continue to come back each year?
"The thing about Camp Henry that makes me continue to come back each year is the atmosphere. The people I'm surrounded by give off an energizing vibe. Everyone is respectful and cares about one another. I learn something new every day when I'm at Camp Henry, and I have a blast doing it." Catherine
"I keep coming back to Camp Henry because I love having fun and meeting new people. And Camp is the perfect place to do that. It's also a good place to go and be a part of nature and see shooting stars in the clear sky. I enjoy singing, playing games, and swimming in the lake. Everything about Camp is just so wonderful; the people, the food, the activities, etc.." Nadia
"There is just something about it I can't put into words that makes it different from any other place in the world. So many different types of people coming together to share the best week of their lives in a happy Christian environment. There is just something really special about Camp Henry." Kurt
"It's my second home and I'm homesick for it all year. I can't explain why." Raina
Well, there you have it, straight from the campers! Who's excited for summer 2014?! We are! We hope you are, too! Spots are filling up fast, so if you haven't signed up for Camp Henry yet, better do it now!
If you are interested in learning more about Camp Henry, you can give us a call at 616-459-2267, continue browsing our website, take a look at our 2014 brochure or check our Facebook page! Here's a link to our summer 2014 promo video as well!
Long time camper, Molly Malnor, takes a moment to reflect on her 8 summers spent at Camp Henry before she enters her last year as a camper.
The first time I ever saw camp, I was much too young to be able to officially be a camper, but my parents and some family friends dropped off the kids who were lucky enough to spend a week at Camp Henry. It was always irritating being the youngest of three, but now I appreciate it more than ever. Thanks to my brothers who both went to camp sporadically through the years, I realized their fault, and started at age 9 and have gone every year since. That's eight whole years that my life has been influenced by the wonders of camp. Now, I am looking forward to pulling past the Nicely Center and lugging all of my camp baggage to a cabin for my last week as a camper, and while I'm sad to see my time go, I am more than excited to see what week six has in store for me this summer.
My first year I was in Shoshone Cabin, with Barbara as a counselor. Little did I know I was meeting friends I would see and get to know for years to come, and people who continue to inspire me to this day. Counselors and campers alike, I have learned so much about the world, other people, and myself. That is a feat. It really is. The ability that camp has to change people's lives never ceases to amaze me. For a long time, I really thought that camp magic was the power to make me a whole different person, more outgoing, fun loving, and overall, happier. In reality however, camp gives ME the power to be myself. Every week I've spent at camp has given me little pieces of information about myself, and that is a unique experience that I doubt most people will be able to have- unless they get to spend time on the shores.
Throughout this year I have been anxiously awaiting this summer at camp, and what that means for me, is looking at old pictures, and daydreaming about the wonders of camp. One of these camp throwback sessions, I was looking on the camp website, pretending that the weather was as nice as I wish it were, and reminiscing about my fondest camp memories. On that browse, I found the section of the site that gives the mission of camp. Ten adjectives are listed there: "Christian, Leadership, Tradition, Education, Diversity, Safety, Relationships, Teamwork, Sustainability, Fun". All are so astoundingly true. I also realized, that these were the qualities that I loved about camp, and their ability to shine through camp people. All ten are incredibly important to me; they are qualities that are influential in my day to day life and have been instrumental in making me who I am today.
Leadership is something that I've always strived to add to my personal repertoire. Looking at all the role models who have shown me their leadership at camp, it has made it so much easier for me to step into leadership opportunities in my school and community. Being an older camper last year gave me some insight into being able to cope with wild campers, lead activities even when people might not be thrilled to have been put in that group, and help to give advice to campers who might be going through tough times. Thanks to the most incredible staff people I've ever encountered, I've been able to find some resemblance of a leadership quality in my own personality, and used it to boost my success as a High School student.
Diversity is something special that camp adds to my life. I really try to put myself in situations to learn about different ways of life, and broaden my horizons, but most of the time, I have embraced diversity at camp. Diversity to me is being surrounded by people who have life stories that give you a new perspective on situations you may have never encountered. Learning about the various girls I've been so honored to spend time with at camp, it has taught me that people can rarely be judged fairly based on appearances or first impressions. This has also helped me want to get to know people who I may have been nervous to approach before my brilliant camp experiences.
Relationships are probably my favorite piece of camp that I carry with me today. Firstly I have gotten to know so many fabulous people who I still call my friends. Not only am I able to encounter new people and form relationships I otherwise might not be able to make without camp, but I have maintained many as well. It seems funny how there are people who go to my school, and I probably would not have had the opportunity to know well, but going to camp has made it possible. Making lasting friendships in approximately 45 minutes with the help of a plunge in the lovely lake Kimball has helped me learn to try and form bonds with varying people and taught me to be open to all different types of people.
The Christian aspects are also incredibly close to my heart because of how much they have helped me grow as a person, and camp always shows me that I still have so much room to grow. This past year, on one of the final nights of the week, my cabin sat in a circle on the floor of Ottawa cabin, and filled out each others last vesper papers. These sheets have a bare tree, and the idea is to fill out ways that your cabin mates are either rooted, or have grown. For our whole cabin people had little leaves labeled 'faith' which represents our growth in it, and that is the absolutely profound magic of camp.
Every now and again I remember all of the night chapels I have cried during, and I'm constantly thinking all of the worship that happens on the shores and I'm so glad to have been blessed enough to be a camper for these many years, and look forward to making new memories in 2014. Although I went to camp for multiple weeks for a few summers, I am now limited to just one as I struggle to schedule a hectic summer prior to my senior year. As I look forward to joining the group of my peers that have outgrown their days as campers, and even though many of the staff members have since moved on to different jobs and locations, my camp stories and memories, and theirs I'm sure, will remain favorites for years and years to come. Because as you may know, a camp friend is a friend forever and a day.
Molly will be a senior at East Grand Rapids in the fall and is looking forward to her last summer on the shores as a camper.
Meet the 2014 Summer Staff! These short bios will help you get to know our awesome staff before summer even starts. Be sure to check out Part 1 below if you haven't already.
Grace Erb aka Gerb or Gracie is so enthused to be spending a whole summer with kids outdoors! It's her goal to become an elementary school teacher. Grace is a native to Crystal Lake, IL and is studying at the University of Illinois. When she has down time, you will probably find her in a body of water, be it a lake, river or pool. And if she is not on the lake front this summer, you can catch her up with the horses as she used to ride competitively. Believe it or not, she actually spent an entire month in Australia with her family, snorkeling and riding camels! Grace hopes her actions this summer will show the campers they are loved and accepted.
Ryan Reisler aka Reis will be keeping Camp Henry running smoothly as he is the Facilities Director. When he has down time, he loves to go backpacking and whitewater canoeing. As a native to Vermont, he has an affinity for colder weather and can often be found wearing shorts in weather most people would consider wearing a winter coat in. Ryan completed his degree in Adventure Education at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. You can rest assured that Camp Henry's facilities are in good hands as this is Ryan's dream job! Click here to learn more about Ryan.
Tim Larson will be making the trek to Camp Henry all the way from Fort Collins, CO for his second summer. Tim is an outdoor aficionado and loves to go hiking, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking and so much more. You name it and if it's outside, Tim probably loves to do it. In fact, he has hiked to the top of two 14,000 ft. mountains in the same day! He is really looking forward to returning to Camp after a hiatus and can't wait to work with the amazing kids and staff. He hopes they know that they are loved and that they are important and that they learn to show other this love.
Ben Waterhouse aka Big Ben has found a great niche at Camp Henry. He is currently enrolled at Anderson University and hopes to work in the youth ministry field once he finishes up his degree in Bible and Religion and Nonprofit Leadership Management. He is excited to see the campers grow over the course of the week they spend at camp. While Ben enjoys playing Rugby now, he used to do gymnastics when he was little. His hope is that every camper will know how amazing they are and how much God loves them.
Blake Lopez, originally from Southern California, has made his way out to Camp Henry for the past two summers and excited to be here for his 3rd year on staff. Blake will finish his Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this June. When he has free time, he enjoys going on hikes and hanging out in his hammock. He can't wait to see new and old campers and staff experience and embrace the 2014 theme of "You Are More" and he wants them to know that they are loved.
Colleen Roddy aka C-Rod or Rods is a fresh face on staff this summer. She grew up in Traverse City and is a student at Hope College studying Special Education. C-Rod enjoys playing sports, hiking, boating and skiing. A really cool fact about Colleen is that she has never had any form of soda. She is eager to have the opportunity to be with kids every day at Camp Henry! She hopes that each camper walks away being confident in who they are and embracing their unique quirks.
Liz Price aka LP is one of many staff members that loves a good dip in the lake and can really get into a good water polo match! Liz is taking a summer break from her studies at Grand Rapids Community College and is returning for her second summer on staff. She is looking forward to pouring into the kids in her cabin as well as connecting with other campers new and old alike. In her spare time and when she is not in the water, she can be found shooting hoops, picking flowers, long boarding, and eating canned peaches. Next time you see her, ask her to make her eyebrows do the worm. Her hope for this summer is that every camper that leaves the shores will know and believe they are more and are truly loved.
David Alorka will be coming over from England to spend his 4th summer on the shores. David is truly a man of many talents. He is passionate about football, the British kind, otherwise known as soccer. He also uses his degree in International Business Studies to help start ups and small to medium organizations grow through consulting work. David is also working on becoming a pilot for British Airways and is logging away as many hours as he can to reach his goal. David hopes that every camper that attends camp this summer will have their lives enriched by their time here.
Alejandra De Mingo aka Ali is traveling all the way from her home in Madrid, Spain to be on staff this summer. Ali attending Camp Henry as a kid and is returning for her first year on staff after several years away. She has a flair for sharing her international experience with other and hopes to pursue a career in foreign affairs. Ali is overjoyed to be returning and is eager to help campers have just as amazing a time as she had when she was younger. When she has some free time she enjoys working out, singing and spending time with loved ones. Her hopes for the campers this summer is that they love and appreciate themselves and in turn appreciate and respect others.
Cody DeLonge is super excited to be on staff this summer. He was a former camper and is glad to be returning as a counselor where he can connect with his campers each week. Cody is currently working on writing his first book and is studying Communications through Devry University. He aspires to be an journalist. When he is not busy writing, he enjoys playing disc golf and flag football. A fun fact about Cody is that he has actually grabbed a charging bull by the horns. He wants the campers to see how important they really are.
Angela Polmanteer, who is studying at Grand Valley, joins us for her second summer on staff. Her favorite outdoor activity is horseback riding, which is where she spends most of her time at camp as a wrangler! She actually won the Best Child Rider Award in 2006. She is excited to meet new campers and staff and be reunited with the returning folks. During her spare time, she likes to read, run, cook, and hike. Her hope and advice for the campers and staff this summer is that you should be proud of your faith and to never be afraid to exploring and furthering your faith.
Adam Swenson aka Swentz is a jack of all trades and is excited to be completing his third year on both year round staff and on summer staff. Originally from New Bloomfield, PA, Adam loves going boating, camping and traveling. He also enjoys baking and eating delicious food. In case you didn't know, he also has one two male pageants and toured Europe with a choir. He would love to own his own alpaca farm and call it "Alpaca you a Lunch." Adam is eager to see what this summer will hold and hopes that all campers get a better glimpse of who they are in the image of God. To learn more about Adam, click here.
Jennie Bander aka JB, Biebz, Jay Band, and Fever is getting ready to spend her second summer on the shores. She's a part of the year round crew that staffs camp during the school year for various school and retreat groups. If you can't find Biebz, she is probably off hiking or enjoy a good rest in her hammock. A University of Michigan alum, she studied Nursing and has a passion for working with people who have special needs. During her younger years, she was a competitive figure skater for 15 years. Now she's a volunteer coach in Grand Rapids in her spare time. Jennie is looking forward to spending time in the wonderful community of camp and assisting the campers in learning more about their identity in God. To learn more about Jennie, click here.
Catherine Bradley aka Cate is a Newaygo native and is excited to be on staff for her first time this summer. Cate enjoys horseback riding, swimming and a is always down for a mad game of kickball. During the school year, Cate is attending Western Michigan and studying Biomedical Science and Nursing. She hopes to use her education to do mission work abroad in orphanages. A interesting fact about Cate is that she has a twin brother! Cate is looking forward to the campfires at night and swimming in Lake Kimball. It is her hope that each camper that attends Camp Henry will leave feeling like Camp has made them a better "them."
Sarah Allaben aka Saqua is going to call Camp Henry home for her third summer and can't wait for the 2014 theme "You Are More" to be applied. She because everyone from ages 1 to 100 can benefit from being reminded of how wonderful they are and how perfectly they were created. Saqua is an avid water polo player and loves to swim in all bodies of water. She can also wiggle her ears just like Marissa. She just graduated from Michigan State University with her Bachelor's degree in dietetics and will be returning in the fall to start on her master's degree. It is her goal this summer to the campers not just know but truly believe they are more.
Maura Davis is gearing up for her first summer at Camp Henry and can't wait to see it in summer mode. As Guest Services Director, she is one of a handful of year round staff. She hails from Royal Oak, MI and studied at Alma College. In her spare time she like to go hiking with her family, attempt to garden and walk her dog, Porter. A fun fact about Maura is that she likes to find and identify spiders. With her BS in Biology Education, she is passionate about helping kids unplug and appreciate spending time outdoors. To learn more about Maura, click here.
Madison Wojtkowski aka Madi or Wojo is following in her mother's footsteps by returning to the shores of Old Lake Kimball. Madi loves to play all sports from football to kickball. She is busy during the year studying Special Education and Psychology at Indiana Wesleyan. She enjoys working on arts and crafts projects when she has a free moment. She also has a very unique middle name, ask her what it is next time you see her! This summer, Madi can't wait to meet all the kids and help them realized that God loves them no matter what.
Nate Peterson aka Gator is headed to the shores for his first summer on staff. He can be found either playing sports, swimming or laying in his hammock when he has downtime. In fact, he is so good at swimming, he earned a scholarship to study and swim at Olivet Nazarene University. He is hoping to go into business management after college. He loves to skate and be active but most of all he loves to share God with others and show them that their faith is something to be proud of.
Genevieve Howell aka John-V spoken with a French accent will be spending her 3rd summer on staff at Camp Henry. She has been a year round staff member for the past two years and playing on the High Ropes Course. Genevieve is also one of our musically talented staff. She plays piano, violin and guitar. She claims to have been raised by polar bear for twelve years, although this may be up for debate. John-V is looking forward to the chaos of summer camp and hopes campers will learn more about the height and depth of the love of Christ. Click here to learn more about Genevieve.
Ben Thompson aka Thompson is from Dowagiac, MI and will be coming to Camp Henry for his 1st summer. He is currently studying at Michigan State and is hoping to pursue a career working with children or following his calling to ministry. When he is not in classes, he enjoys playing the Spartan marching band, watching old movies and going to the beach to soak up the sun and play in the water. This summer he is looking forward to warmer temperatures and helping kids have a wonderful experience at camp, especially those attending for the first time. Ben hopes campers can find a deeper understanding of God while they are here.
Amanda DeKuiper aka Mandi has one of the most important jobs at camp. She is our Food Service Director, which means she is in charge of running the kitchen and getting delicious food prepared for every single meal this summer. She is excited to meet all the people and kids that will come through camp over the summer months. Mandi is from Fremont, MI and when she has free time she enjoys camping, hiking, boating, fishing and swimming. She also has a gigantic book collection, enough to fill a library! Mandi's goal for the summer is to show campers and staff that camp food is great!
Jennifer Robelli aka Jen or Knower of all Things is the master mind behind the scenes that helps Camp Henry run so smoothly. During her time at camp, she has worn many hats and is currently the Camp Administrator. And yes, she really knows just about everything about what is going on at camp or how to get things done. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, Daisy. Her goal for this summer is to have everything on the office side of things run as smoothly as possible. She also hopes to get up to the horses for at least one trail ride and out on the lake to try out our new stand up paddle boards. For more information on Jen, click here.
Meet the 2014 Summer Staff! These short bios will help you get to know our awesome staff before summer even starts and this is just part one! Stay tuned for part two later this week. Pictures will come in early June once staff training gets underway.
Spencer Wild aka Swild is coming back to the shores for his 3rd summer on staff. His favorite outdoor activity is anything that is competitive or involves a ball. Swild is a Grand Rapids native and he enjoys reading, going to concerts and playing basketball when he is not studying for his classes at Hope College. A random fact about Swild is that he once swam 4 miles in the open ocean, now he can maybe swim 4 yards, on a good day, with floaties. He wants each camper that comes to Camp Henry this summer to simply know that they are loved.
Emily Cole is returning for her second summer on staff and is really looking forward to wearing crazy clothes, singing at the top of her lungs and being invested in campers' lives. When she is not at Camp Henry, she can be found cooking and eating delicious food, rock climbing, swimming or working in the garden. An interesting fact about Emily is that when she was a child, she was bitten by a deer at a petting zoo and has a picture to prove it! Her hope for the campers this summer is that they will try new things and find new gifts and abilities they didn't know they had before camp.
Marissa Vargo aka Maraqua or Mer or Merbin (take your pick) will be starting her 4th summer on staff after spending many summers on the shores as a camper. She just finished up her degree in Communications with a minor in Youth Studies and Recreation at Central Michigan University. She is also one of the handful of year round program staff at Camp Henry. She loves water activities, going on adventures and playing bandana tag. She is really excited to see how much returning campers have grown and help new campers grow as well. Marissa hopes that every camper will learn to be more positives, strong and confident by the time they leave camp this summer. Next time you see Marissa, ask her to wiggle her ears for you!
Ronald Hedgcock aka Ron is from Crystal Lake, IL and is joining the Camp Henry Summer Staff for his first summer on the shores. When he is not busy applying to be on the next Survivor, Ron likes to go camping and backpacking. He also enjoys board games, running and swimming. Ron has an extensive background in working at camps and is excited to be at Camp Henry and have the opportunity to serve in new ways. He studied Psychology and Political Science at Calvin and plans on working with kids. He hopes that each camper will come to know about the power of God's love and strength.
Jennifer Lewis aka Jenni, a former AC (assistant counselor) is wrapping up her first year at Grand Valley and will be spending the summer on staff for the first time. It's her goal to work for a nonprofit that focuses on children after she graduates. Her favorite outdoor activities are riding horses and playing soccer. She also plays the guitar and piano and is fluent in Spanish and working on learning American Sign Language. She is excited to see all the friendships campers will form and to help them grow in their faith and confidence.
JJ Jacobs has been able to call Camp Henry home for many summers, more summers than she can count on her fingers. Her favorite thing to do outside is go hiking and she also enjoys spending time with her family, going running and reading a good book. She can't wait to see campers smiling while they sing, play and enjoy camp this summer. Something you may not know about JJ is that she spent two summers living in a tent, planting trees for the forest service. JJ hopes that every camper will leave camp knowing that they are special.
Jake Jacobs is getting ready to spend his 18th summer on the shores as Camp Director. He is also the Executive Director of Camp Henry and is looking forward to having a front row seat to seeing lives changed (including his) at camp! Jake loves to go canoeing and traveling with his wife, JJ, and three sons, Levi, Luke, and Logan. A fun fact about Jake is that he once worked on a train in Alaska. His hope for each kid that comes to camp this summer is that they are loved just how they are. To learn more about Jake, click here.
Elizabeth Ray aka Liz, Lizzie, E-Ray, E-Beth is getting ready for her 4th summer on staff. She is from Benton, MO and after graduating from Southeast Missouri State with a BS in Recreation, she sought her dream job of working in camping ministry by coming to work at Camp Henry year round. She is so amped to see what the summer staff will accomplish and to see lives that are impacted while at camp. An interesting fact about E-Beth is that she is closer in age to her youngest niece than all her other siblings, other than her twin sister, of course! She hopes that campers will leave with the knowledge that they are more than they know. To learn more about E Ray, click here.
Erica Thomas aka Eri Cat is a California native who joins the Camp Henry Summer Staff after spending the past 10 months as year round staff. She is excited to experience her first summer on the shores and can't wait to sing, play and laugh all summer long. Erica loves to be active and can often be found on the waterfront SUPing or swimming. She has the unique ability to lick her own elbow despite claims that it is impossible. It is her desire that all summer campers will have a strong identity after their time at camp and that they will feel and know they are loved. To learn more about Erica, click here.
Madeline Karsten aka Maddy joins us from Grand Rapids for her 1st year on staff. She loves to go hiking and swimming in the great outdoors. She also likes to run, read and spend time with friends. A fun detail about Maddy is that she can't roll her tongue. She is thrilled to meet new people and change kids' lives this summer. She wishes that campers will learn and know that they are more than their mistakes or flaws and that they are always welcome at camp.
Kenny Hotaling aka God Father is coming to Camp Henry for the 9th summer in a row from Morro Bay, California. When he isn't teaching middle school, he is busy surfing and spending time with his family. His favorite activity at camp is wakeboarding and can often be found on the waterfront. Kenny is eager to explore the 2014 theme, You are more, and hopes that campers learn that God has a plan for them and that plan is GOOD!
Brianna Marshall will be spending her 3rd summer on the shores as a staff member and is looking forward to seeing the kids again and learning new things! She is one of a few California natives at Camp Henry. She came to Michigan to study Geology at Calvin and aspires to help rural areas deal with the effects of natural disasters. Her favorite outdoor activity is hiking and everyone loves to hear her sing with her beautiful voice. A random tidbit about Bri is that she met Arnold Schwarzenegger in California's state capitol, Sacramento. Bri's desire for campers this summer is that they understand that they are loved and that each of them has so much to offer the world.
Alexander MacDonald aka Maverick or Mav is coming back for a second season at Camp Henry. Outside of camp, Mav is working on his dream of becoming a pediatrician. Ask any camper from last summer and they can tell you that Maverick is an Ultimate Frisbee fantastic. He also enjoys reading, riding his motorcycle and solving Cryptics. A fascinating fact about Mav is that he had 6 wisdom teeth pulled when he was a teenager (that's two more than usual!). He can't wait to go mermaid watching this summer and help campers know they are loved.
Kelly Hotaling aka KB, Kelly Belly, or Schmeli is coming back for her 9th summer at Camp Henry. During the year, Kelly spends her time in beautiful California practicing physical therapy and helping people have more mobility and a greater quality of life. Kelly and Kenny have three daughters that come to camp for the summer as well. Kelly loves to go hiking, running and skiing. In fact, she has climbed the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states two times! She is looking forward to loving kids and staff and growing closer to Christ this summer. She hopes that every camper knows they are loved for who they are.
Hannah Kugele, who happens to love playing with and blowing bubbles outside, is a familiar face at Camp Henry despite this being her first summer on staff. Hannah is currently wrapping up her first year at Ashland University and hopes to become a reading teacher and eventually open up a boarding school. It should be no surprise that she loves to read and write. She also enjoys hanging out with friends, watching movies and playing quidditch; in fact she is a beater on her school's quidditch team. She hopes that campers will learn that they have the power to make the world just as loving, caring and friendly as camp is.
Rachel Mindes aka Rae, Rach, Mindes is another long time Camp Henry camper and staff member. She is coming back for her 4th summer on staff. When she is not at Camp, she is working on her degree in Illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design. Mindes loves to go camping, hiking and swimming and she also enjoys a chill afternoon lying in the sand or on the deck. You can also find her on the four square court or on the A-field playing Bombo. She is thrilled to be able to impact and love on more kids this summer and help them learn to love and accept themselves!
Scott Fowler aka Scott Bro is another veteran staff member with 4 summers already under his belt. Scott Bro comes from St. Joseph, MI and is very musically talented. He spends time playing his guitar in a praise band and is eager to find new ways to positively impact kids' lives at camp. If you can't find Scott on the Dining Hall deck playing his guitar, you may be able to spot him searching for 4 leaf clovers. He is really good at finding them. Scott is looking forward to assisting campers as they learn to try new things and step outside of their comfort zone.
Even though this is Erin Eighmey's first summer at Camp Henry, she can't wait to be a part of all the traditions! Erin is a majoring in Public and Nonprofit Administration with a double minor in Hospitality and Tourism Management and Environmental Studies at Grand Valley. She hopes to put her studies to work with a nonprofit similar to Kid's Food Basket. When Erin isn't studying, she is busy crocheting scarves for the Winter Special Olympics. She also enjoys running or riding her bike and spending quality time with her family. Her hope for this summer is that campers know how valued and loved they are.
Sarah Veldman aka Serr-ah or Veldie is coming back for her second year on staff and can't wait to hang out with campers on the shores. She is excited to learn and experience God's love together with them this summer. Sarah's hometown is Coopersville, MI and she is currently attending Grand Valley and studying Clinical Exercise Science. She loves to play basketball, throw a Frisbee around, play guitar and go fishing. And even though she is not entirely sure what color her eyes are, she is certain that each camper will learn that God sees each of them as His perfect, amazing, and beautiful children.
India Daniels aka Inds is another new staff member who joins us from Chicago. She is just wrapping up her first year at Calvin College and can't wait to learn all the Camp Henry traditions this summer. She loves a good book or going on a hike in her spare time. A random fact about India is that one time she ended up with cornrows accidently and apparently they aren't a good look for her. Ask her about that sometime as there has to be a good story behind that! India is hoping that campers and staff will know that God loves each of them and that they will love others in the same way.
Jaclyn Mancos aka Jackie hails from Farmington Hills, MI and is about to start her first summer at Camp. She spends her free time doing yoga, swimming, cooking, and running when she is not caught up in her studies at Central Michigan. Jackie hoping to become a registered dietitian that helps families live healthier lives. She is thrilled with the opportunity to meet all the campers this summer and is hoping they understand that they are more than whatever it is that society depicts them to be. If you happen to start a pick-up game of soccer this summer, she's a good one to have on your team as she played for 11 years!
Molly Peterson aka Gilly loves a great game of smuggle and will be delighted to be playing it many times during her second summer on staff. Gilly is very comedic and will be sure to have you laughing whether you are kayaking, horseback riding or just playing a round of Euchre. She spends the school year studying Human Developmental and Family Studies at Michigan State. If you want to learn a fun fact about Gilly, ask her about her belly button, it's one of a kind! She is eager to return to the camp community and hopes that kids learn more about a life with Christ.
By definition, a camp friend is simply someone that you meet at camp. It may be someone you met as a camper or someone you had the pleasure of working with on staff for a summer. Camp friends know you better than most. They have seen you act a fool at opening camp fire, they have been with you on a camp out when a massive storm blew at 3 am, they have cried with you at Friday chapel during Week 8, they have laughed with you during skit night, they have loaned you their grooviest polyester threads for disco banquet and they helped you wash peanut butter out of your hair after Dutch Auction. Hands down, these friends are, to quote my camp friend Kelly Hotaling, "the best in the west."
The summer between 4th and 5th grade my family relocated from the Detroit area to Grand Rapids. To make the big move seem less traumatic, my grandparents sent me to Camp Henry and lucky for me, my best friend Angela was able to come too. I remember it like it was yesterday; we were in Apache cabin and our counselor was Stephanie Litton. I recall having butterflies in my stomach as we waited to jump in the lake and take the swim test and how excited I was to see that our first meal was pizza and chocolate milk. During that week I met some new friends who went to the school I would be attending in the fall and on the first day of school I was so grateful to see a few familiar faces. When I got a little homesick for my old friends back in Detroit, I always knew I would see my best friend Angela for a week a camp every summer despite the fact that we now lived two hours away instead of around the corner. Having "camp friends" from my old home and now my new home made all the difference in helping me with this transition.
In the mid-90s when I was on staff, "camp friends" were your entire life for the summer. This was before cell phones, Facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc. Back then there was a one payphone in Millar that everyone used to contact those back in the "real world." I remember distinctly having discussions with my non-camp friends about my lack of communication May – August. If it was an emergency, family and friends knew to call Millar and keep their fingers crossed that someone would answer – and then be able to locate me. Saturday day offs were spent with camp friends. Rarely did we even consider heading back to Grand Rapids or our respective schools to visit our "other" friends. The main concern was who was driving to the laundry mat, what time the Taco Bell in Fremont opened, what we needed to pick up at Wal-Mart for the upcoming week and when Palmer Tie Dye Weekend would be. We traveled in packs, always together.
Eventually we all grew up. We graduated from college, started attending camp weddings and then camp baby showers. I am so grateful that my camp friends were present when I married by husband and loved when they loudly chanted for him to carry me around the gazebo at our reception. These camp friends are now not only special to me but also special to my daughters. My girls love looking at my photo albums and hearing stories about the fun, crazy and now probably unsafe things we used to do at camp. If I close my eyes I can still hear Chris McCleary and Cary Fletter singing "Forever and a Day", Katy Kozal's voice as she called "HORSES!!" at feeding time in the corral, Mark Penning giving the best weather report anyone has ever heard ("sunny skies and a high near 90!"), Jody Waclawski's giggle and Jake singing Big Yellow Taxi at a PJ Sing. No matter how much time goes by, when I see these camp friends it is like no time has gone by at all. We will always be united by that special bond of time spent together on the shores of old Lake Kimball.
Sarah (Carrington) Nelson began her camp journey during the summer of 1985. She has been a camper, Assistant Counselor, Counselor and Wrangler. Currently she is a camper parent, Camp Henry Board Member and works part time at MVP Sportsplex.
This announcement (yes, I have another one, I have them all the time) is to tell you why my heart belongs to Camp Henry and how the traditions I have experienced here have helped shape me into who I am today.
Some people believe the stereotype that camp is solely a place you go to get dirty, sing silly songs, have a lot of fun, and run around playing weird games. In some aspects, that is a lot of what we do at camp, but it is also so much more.
During my ten years at Camp Henry, I have experienced countless crazy camp traditions. I have learned that behind every ten minute announcement song, wacky campfire skit, and absurd dining hall chant lies years and years of memories, friendships, and gut-splitting laughter. I learned that camp is a place filled with tradition, a place for kids to relax, have fun, experience nature, and connect with other kids in a stress-free environment.
As I look back on my time at camp, I realize that these traditions, although seemingly pointless, have had a large impact on my life as well as countless other campers and staff. I, like so many others, came to camp as a nervous, excited, starry-eyed child afraid of not fitting in or making friends. However, each day at camp taught me new lessons and traditions that would eventually help lead me to becoming the person I am today. It is through every wacky tradition I have been able to feel truly connected to camp and form relationships that will last forever and a day.
Camp Henry is entwined with traditions, each one an opportunity for campers to instantly build connections and slide into the camp community. Each tradition, no matter how big or small it may be, is also a chance for campers to challenge themselves, take risks, and grow in confidence and strength. I think most returning campers will agree that the Chipmunk song is not just a song, Smuggle is more than just an excuse for staff to tackle campers and hide in trash cans (sort of!), B-field games are more than just an excuse to run up a ridiculously steep hill, and yes, still wearing the paint from Potato Round-Up three days later is indeed a fashion statement.
I will never forget witnessing staff members getting thrown in the lake for no real reason at all (i.e. running over a chipmunk with the golf cart or 'stealing the magic of camp'), sweating from nerves watching fire-tossing celebrations (javelin throws, anyone?), crying from laughter at the Opening Campfire skits (When in doubt- Sit, Stand, Kneel for the Three Horsemen), or even crying from heart-wrenching emotion at a great Vespers (cabin in tears = success).
No matter what happens in life, I will always believe pizza and chocolate milk is the best meal on a Sunday, beef stew (stirred with a stick) is a must on campouts, and the Sacred Ceremony and Night Chapel are by far the best ways to end a week at camp.
Each activity, chapel message and shared meal has brought me closer to my cabinmates, staff, and God. Most importantly, it is through amazing traditions that I have learned to live simply, be confident in who I am, stand up for what I believe in, and never forget to see the world the way God intended it to be.
Although camp traditions, despite the name, change over time, I will always feel connected to camp because of the experiences they have provided me. While we may not always play the same games, sing the same songs, or share the same stories, I know that these traditions will continue to grow and develop as time goes on to make camp the best possible place it can be.
Marissa Vargo joined the year round staff at Camp Henry in March 2014 after she graduated from Central Michigan. She has spent her summers growing up on the shores as a camper, AC and summer staff member. She enjoys a good round of Smuggle and spending time on the waterfront. You may recognize her from the IronKid video in our last blog post. She's the one swimming on top of a frozen Lake Kimball.
Camp Henry's 1st Annual Triathlon!
Saturday June 14th, 2014
Each year we strive to never turn a child away due to their inability to pay to come to Camp Henry. In 2013, over 26% of all campers received some level of financial assistance – and Camp Henry was able to provide over $118,000 in scholarship support.
Yet, we still had campers on the waiting list for scholarships and we were not able to fund every request.
Camp Henry's IronKid will be an awesome event that will help provide a child who is in need of support with the opportunity to experience Camp Henry this summer.
IronKid Sponsor - click here to find out how you or your company can get involoved as an IronKid Sponsor
Donate - Click here to donate to Camp Henry's Summer Camp Scholarship Fund!
To reach the IronKid main page with all of these links, click here.