Camp DeWolfe Blog
I had come away from summer camp 2014 wanting more and counting down the days until I could sign up as a returner.. But I was torn between studying/working or coming back for another summer.. And so it was late December that I finally decided to come back and spend another summer in the states!
This year at camp has been a little different from the last, as I stepped up my roles with the new camp activities, such as instructing paddle boarding, drama classes and small group for the counselors.
I’ve loved having this opportunity to experience leading the new activities, being responsible for making the activities fun and exciting, and seeing the campers grow and share the excitement they have had in those classes. It has been so rewarding!
I have also seen personal growth in myself while being here at camp and so far from home. Yes, there had been challenging times, but there are rewarding times too and you really do get to know yourself better in those times. While being here at camp you really feel the sense of ‘family’ and really rely on one another and God…
The word support comes to mind when I think of the camp 2015 staff. I am so thankful to have met all the wonderful staff this year and to be reunited with some of the returners. I am grateful to have shared the many memories and laughs that have happened this summer.. As we like to say it in New Zealand… Cheers for that!
I hope to see you all next year!
By Rebekah Joyce
Summer Camp Counselor 2014 and 2015
1. What’s your name? – Danielle Topham
2. Where are you from? – Lancashire, England
3. What university/school do you attend? What major?
I’m studying Primary Education at Leeds Beckett University, so I’ll be a qualified teacher when I graduate.
4. What’s your favorite Country/state?
Hmm…this is hard! There’s no place like home, but I love traveling and I have great memories from holidays in lots of countries, such as Cyprus and Majorca, but my favorite was definitely Florida!
5. What’s your favorite camp activity and why?
I enjoy creative activities such as baking and arts and crafts, because there are endless opportunities to make something new. Then again, I also like water-based activities such as canoeing!
6. What are you most looking forward to about next summer and why?
Everything! But if I have to choose one, I’d say helping all of the children to have an amazing experience, and seeing them grow and develop throughout camp.
7. What’s your favorite camp core value (Community, Christian Formation, Developing Leaders or Natural Setting) and Why?
Community, because it’s so nice working in an environment where everybody is appreciated and valued for who they are. It means that everyone can have fun and challenge themselves in a positive environment.
8. What’s your dream job/vocation/calling for life?
Definitely something that involves working with children and young people! I’ve done youth work before and I love it, but I’m going to see where teaching leads me for now…
My time spent at camp has got be one of the best experiences ever. During the first few days of orientation and staff training, I had no idea of what to expect at Camp, but to my anticipation it was well worth it and exceeded my expectation.
During my time at Camp DeWolfe, I made some life-long friendships that can never be replaced.Camp De Wolfe’s vision is to support spiritual formation, by providing a natural setting for people to engage in community and I believe in my heart that my purpose and that vision was definitely fulfilled. Experiencing God in a natural setting was different for me, seeing as I have never experienced it before. Camping out was one of my goals and I’m glad I achieved it at Camp De Wolfe.
I was given much responsibility at Camp DeWolfe which I thoroughly enjoyed. As a General counselor and LIT counselor, I learned about myself and others around me.
Developing leaders has definitely been present this year at camp 2015. Working as an LIT counselor has indeed been one of my highlights to date. The LITS have been working so hard on different tasks and responsibilities such as; service projects and shadowing other activities like kayaking, sports and games, archery and many more. The LITS were given the opportunity to lead different games and to also be part of a group. They were given the opportunity to learn, grow, develop and experience how to be a counselor which is exciting.
To round up, working for Camp De Wolfe was an amazing experience, learning different ways to worship, singing songs, interacting and getting to know the campers, leading activities, setting up tents, will be something that i will not forget.
Thank you Camp De Wolfe for this unforgettable amazing experience.
By Abigail Olasoji
Summer Camp Counselor 2015
Camp DeWolfe is such a wonderful place to come and experience God and I am grateful that I got the opportunity to work at Camp DeWolfe again this summer. I say ‘work’, but in all honesty it didn’t feel like work at all, due to the homely feel that camp brings about and the amazing staff that have become close friends.
This year, I felt God wanted me to take on more challenges and boy was I challenged! I led canoeing this was very fulfilling as I got to teach the campers and watch them attempt things that were terrifying for them and then progressing from that. Seeing campers progress from one stage to next was definitely a highlight of mine and not because they managed to do it but because they were willing to try and in the process gain a little more trust in themselves. I also feel that I grew a lot more myself, as I learnt more skills in regards to canoeing and in teaching canoeing. I also found myself learning from the campers in regards to living life and seeing how resilient they are.
I feel like God blessed me with an amazing summer experience which had its ups and downs like all things in life, however through the tough times, I found joy in the campers and them uplifting me, which I thought was amazing. Working at Camp DeWolfe again has been an enjoyable experience and I pray Camp DeWolfe continues to be that way.
By Karen Ncube
Returning Counselor and Canoeing Instructor (2014 & 2015)
Working at Camp Dewolfe has been the most rewarding experience. I never expected a summer to change my outlook on life so much; I feel I have become more mature, more content in my faith and confident in my abilities.
I remember being so nervous the few days leading up to coming to camp. It seemed such a long time to commit myself to staying at camp, away from home. However as soon as I pulled up to Benson house and saw the stunning view of the sound behind, I knew I had made the right decision. I was made to feel so welcome, and I instantly gelled with all the staff. I have spent 24/7 with these colleges, I’ve shared hilarious moments with them, shared my deepest thoughts, made many memories, they have become friends I will always treasure.
While at camp I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful campers. I have enjoyed participating in evening games with them, teaching them new skills and learning about their views on their faith. At Camp DeWolfe I have learnt so much about God. I feel like I have learnt to appreciate gods creations. I can see God in all of the campers and staff here at Camp. I believe Camp DeWolfe has really strengthened my faith, it’s made me feel a more positive and strong person. I have really enjoyed this summer, I feel very blessed that God brought me to meet so many amazing people.
-By Megan Jones
I arrived at camp not quite knowing what to expect, joining a program I had not previously done and preparing to lead two brand new activity areas at Camp DeWolfe. Staff training helped me to settle in quickly though and through the team building exercises and various courses undertaken by staff a strong and purposeful community was formed ready for the campers to join! Explorer camp began and was a wonderful start to the camp season, the preparations for my fishing activity began to bear fruit at last and I had a cabin full of excited children, I quickly realized that patience was going to be a key attribute over the next few weeks.
Following Explorer camp, Discovery began as did my second and third activity areas, wilderness and rocketry. I quickly realized that explorer was a taster of the fun to come and loved leading my extra classes. Telling stories and sharing my experience of the wilderness with campers was wonderful and they all loved building and launching their rockets. After two weeks of camp everyone was shattered but the three week adventure camp was on the horizon and before long we were thrown back in again! Adventure camp proved to be just as challenging as the previous two and just as much fun, the extra third week also really enabled us to form closer bonds with campers.
Throughout the three camps I have been privileged to work in the community that shone bright and was always commented on by visitors, campers quickly felt at home and made the most of their time here with the incredible staff. As well as sharing my experiences with the campers it was wonderful to see them develop in activity areas, especially fishing where they weren’t quite sure what to expect at first but by the end of the week campers were pros and loved to fish! Another highlight for me was being shadowed by LIT’s in my activity areas, they worked hard, showed respect and never complained, it was fantastic to see the way they grew and developed over the five weeks they spent at camp and really showed themselves to be young leaders.
Finally, the most special thing I will take away from camp is the bonds I formed with staff members and campers, sharing our lives with one another, working together and supporting each other really bought the camp community together and I am very sad to be leaving Camp DeWolfe 2015.
-By Jonty Townson
During the Summer of 2015, I was blessed to be apart of a Christian Camp. Through Camp DeWolfe I learned so many things; not only about camp, but also about myself. I now know that I can take charge and be a leader. In my life previous to being a camp counselor, I never stepped forward to do things simply because I was afraid of being the center of attention. Now, I am always eager to lead and set a good example; not only for campers, but also for my fellow colleagues who need the motivation. I have learned how to experience God through nature, which I have never deemed possible for the simple fact that I am never around nature, and I was a bit afraid of it too. God’s creations are something special. Developing a closer relationship with God while being in the midst of all his creations is overwhelming and simply heartfelt.
This summer, I was a climbing instructor and it is something I can take away forever. As well as being the one of the most enjoyable activities at camp, I got to see campers crack their shell. I witnessed campers of all ages come to the challenge course and take responsibility in so many different ways. Starting with volunteering in simple games, to challenging games, teaching others how to put their harnesses and helmets on, going over safety rules, and those that uplifted others any time they were nervous to climb. Seeing young kids raise each other’s spirits, even for people they didn’t know or just met made me the happiest counselor alive. I saw God through all campers in their own ways. So many lifelong friendships were made this summer and I am the luckiest person to have witnessed it. I myself have met so many incredible, loving, people and I couldn’t be happier. This is one of the most impacting, hardest, yet rewarding summers of my life. My faith has been sealed this summer and I believe I am a different person than I was 8 weeks ago walking into this place.
I am beyond thankful for summer 2015 at Camp DeWolfe.
By Miriam Ekeson
Camp Counselor from St Gabriel’s Church in Hollis Queens
As I prepare for my final batch of campers to pack their bags and return home tomorrow, I think back to their first days at camp, as I do at the end of every session. I remember them bounding into the cabin, claiming the much sought-after top bunks, unloading their clothes, and beginning to make camp their home, whether for the first time or the fifth. I got to watch as strangers became acquaintances and then friends, the quietest campers break slowly out of their shells, and be a part of the bond that can only happen when you put nine young women in a cabin together for a few weeks. I never cease to be amazed by the growth I am witness to over a camp session. In my drama classes, I got to see kids who would barely speak the first lesson have the rest of the class in stitches of laughter by the end from their performances. As a lifeguard, I saw kids who could barely doggy paddle swim confident laps across the pool. In cabin devos, I saw my girls’ relationship with God grow deeper as they learned more about their faith and understand what it means to live life trying to be like Christ. These moments make up for every bit of exhaustion, fatigue, and frustration I feel over the course of a camp session.
But as camp draws to a close, I not only think of my campers’ growth, but of my own. I remember the days before the campers arrived, when I wondered to myself, do I know what I’m doing? What if I don’t know what to say or do? I remember seeing my very first camper sprinting with her suitcase to the cabin, and thinking oh boy, here we go. But I immediately discovered that my fears were for naught. I had no reason to worry about being unprepared. Though working with children is challenging, I found that I knew more than I thought I did about interacting with them, and maintaining authority while being a friendly figure. I went from a quiet counselor to one who was able to lead a session on pirate lingo during Discovery camp’s pirate-themed weekend. I went from nervously twirling my whistle by the pool to one of the most confident lifeguards. I discovered a nearly limitless supply of energy to maintain enthusiasm and positive energy among the campers even when I myself was tired. Midway through Adventure, I was even awarded Counselor of the Week, something I certainly could not have earned at the beginning of camp. I could not be more grateful for the growth this summer has given me, and am excited for what my future with Camp DeWolfe holds!
By Kayleigh Stewart
This past Tuesday, our chaplain of the week, Fr. Larry Byrne, his wife Susan, and I created a simple labyrinth in the back of St. Luke’s Chapel. Using candles, yarn, and duct tape, we designed a space for campers that evening to pray and reflect while walking and listening to music softly playing in the background. Several campers shared afterwards that it was a really special time for them, and counselors seemed to appreciate it equally!
Labyrinths are a great way to express this profound reality: we are all on a journey of faith. None of our journeys are identical; they are as unique as we are in the lives we lead and the experiences we have. For some, it may seem pretty easy to point to times where God was clearly at work, while others may struggle to think of those times. The goal in walking a labyrinth is to reach the center, which represents God’s presence, yet God is always with us, no matter how “off center” we may feel. So it comes down to, I think, a matter of awareness. How aware are we of the God who is always there with us and for us? The more aware we are, the closer we draw ourselves (or the Spirit draws us, perhaps more accurately) to that sacred center.
This summer at camp has given me, and many others too, an incredible opportunity to become more aware and centered in God’s presence. Camp strips away so many of the distractions that keep us from having a holy awareness- the busyness of work and school, the tyranny of technology, and so on. In place of those distractions, camp offers an abundance of time to have fun, enjoy the company of others, soak up the beauty of God’s Creation, worship and pray, and simply “be.”
Camp also provides a chance to really dig deep into our journeys and to hear about those of others. During morning Christian Formation this week, counselors gave the message, each one based on their own journey of faith. All of them were honest about life’s struggles and many, for example, spoke about the difficulty of losing a loved one. After the message, campers were invited to talk in their cabin groups about the counselor’s story and discuss how it connects to their own faith journeys. Campers shared about the “highs” and “lows” they have faced so far, and how they’ve experienced God leading them and showing them the Way. My hope amid all this is that campers (and staff) will leave camp with a fuller awareness of God’s presence in their lives, and a stronger faith that, no matter how challenging life may be, the Spirit goes with them to guide them ever closer to the center of all things, which is the heart of God. I end with these words from the song “Center” by Charlie Hall, which I offer as a prayer:
Oh Christ, be the center of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the center of our lives
And You’re the center of the universe
Everything was made in You, Jesus
Breath of every living thing
Everyone was made for You
You hold everything together
You hold everything together
Just one last note: I have had a fantastic summer at Camp DeWolfe! I’ve been so blessed to be part of the awesome things God has done here! I only wish camp could last a little longer! Thanks be to God!!!
– Dan Bell
Christian Formation Director
This past Monday I met with the LITs for their weekly leadership training. I showed them a TED Talk by Drew Dudley called “Everyday Leadership.” In his talk Dudley says that many folks convince themselves they aren’t leaders because they’re not doing anything huge to change the world. But this is a misguided way of thinking about leadership, he explains. He gives the example of how, during college, he unknowingly had a big impact on another student’s life just by offering her a lollipop, alongside with some words of kindness and humor. What he did put this nervous freshman at ease and gave her the encouragement she needed to begin a new phase in her life. Dudley would have never known about this had not this student, four years later, told him how much what he did meant to her. He was shocked, especially since he had no recollection of the “lollipop moment!”
It can be “scary to think of ourselves as that powerful,” says Dudley. “It can be frightening to think that we can matter that much to other people, because as long as we make leadership something bigger than us, as long as we keep leadership something beyond us, as long as we make it about changing the world, we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it every day from ourselves and from each other.” This is an important message for all of us to hear, and it’s one that the LITs really appreciated hearing. It can be intimidating to be called a leader, and this is particularly true for teenagers, I think. Teens tend to think they’re different from everyone else but, ironically, they’re all about following one another (and their favorite celebrities and fashions and whatever else!). I hope the LITs left feeling more empowered and ready to be leaders at camp, back home, and wherever they find themselves in the future.
All of us have the chance to be everyday leaders. Whether it’s a smile, a thumbs up, a word of encouragement, or sitting with and listening to someone who’s having a rough day, we never know the sort of impact we can have on another person. Whenever we offer something positive to someone else, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, we are being leaders. So may God’s Spirit open our hearts and minds to those around us, and lead us to many “lollipop moments” throughout our lives!
By Dan Bell
Christian Formation Director