When we asked returning staff member, “Kat”, why she keeps coming back to Camp Wood, she offered some touching insights on why summer camp has been important to her since she was only 6 years-old.
I began my days at Camp Wood YMCA when I was six years old and by the end of my first week I knew I would never be able to stay away. I came back at first for silly things like the horses and the mud hikes but it wasn’t until my third year when I came back and campers and staff started recognizing me that I realized that I had created a name for myself…literally. I had decided to try out a nickname one summer when there were multiple “Katies” in my cabin and so I had to go by “Kat” to make it less confusing and it stuck-- really well.
There was a nice ring to it and I began to see that “Kat” could be whoever she wanted. No one knew me at camp. They didn’t know where I came from or what I was like at school. I got to reinvent myself and find the things that really made me happy. It was out in the middle of the Flint Hills, away from the pressures of friends, family, and school that I found myself--and every summer when I returned, “Kat” was there and I uncovered something new about her. She was so cool, she ate spaghetti with her face and climbed up to the top of a 50 foot tower without batting an eyelash, and she held snakes and horn toads and she laughed….boy did she laugh all the time. Every minute at camp was giggles and laughter and silliness and it was true happiness. Camp gave me confidence in my own skin, which is something that is hard to find sometimes, and for that I will be forever grateful.
When I finished my last summer as a camper I felt that camp had given me everything it could and it was now my turn to give back. Little did I know that camp never ceases to change you and inspire you. As a staff member, now I go back for my kids because in every Camp Wood kiddo there’s a “Kat” and I want to help them find their favorite self and learn to not be afraid to express it.
Thank you for sharing your Camp Wood story with us Kat! We are so excited to welcome you back this summer as our Program Director. Our campers are so lucky to enjoy the programs you're planning--programs that will help them find their "favorite selves".