Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

I am always telling people how ” I don’t ever sweat the small stuff” ….. I think maybe this brings it to another level…

Mary and I were on our way to our course in Cromwell to learn more about Social Media so that we can engage better with our members. I was pulling out of the Church St parking garage and I had  to wait to pull out because there was a car parked blocking my view…..

Unbeknown to me..the automatic barrier came down in between my bike rack and my car and as I drove away I took the entire barrier off! All of a sudden I heard a terrible crunch…not sweating the small stuff, but knowing that I at least had to get out of the car and check it out…I got out of the car. The man who is working at the garage is standing holding the sheared off  barrier in his hands 🙂  I look at him and not knowing what else to do…smile and get back into the car and drive off! I am hoping I will be welcome to park in the garage tomorrow…….

Lessons learned from this unfortunate experience…..

1. Always expect the unexpected. Sometimes things just happen that we have no control over! Who would have thought that the barrier would come down in between my bike rack???

2.When faced with an unfortunate situation…smile!!!! 🙂 Most of the time you will make the other person smile as well and diffuse the situation.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff, there is plenty of big stuff in life much more appropriate to worry about.

p.s Anyone who knows me, knows that things like this happen to me quite often…it is part of my “charm” 🙂

Sue – Downtownbarrier


Camp Jewell & the Weavers–a Family Affair

Last week we shared Jocelyn Weaver’s camp story, so this week we’re making it a family affair by sharing her dad’s story. Ray Weaver, now a Board member, has been involved with camp since 1978. Find out what keeps him coming back!
Ray Weaver
Camp gets in your head, your heart and your gut. That’s what happened to me the first time I came to Camp Jewell in 1978 as a counselor and I’ve been here, in one capacity or another, ever since.

My first camp staff training was one of the best weeks of my life. I came up knowing only one person and came away with more friends than I could have imagined. I had grown up as a jock in Newington,CT and didn’t know anything outside of that; I’d never interacted with people from different places or who were older than I was. It was fascinating to me to see their thought processes and how they solved problems. I learned how to work with other people that summer, I developed such a strong sense of camaraderie with other people here, and I caught the camp bug.

Paul Berkel, the camp director at that time, went to the same church I did. After a Youth Group led service, during which I gave the Sermon, Paul approached me and asked if I was interested in being a summer camp counselor. That first summer changed my outlook on life. Paul is the kind of leader who inspired you to do something before he asked you to do it, which is one of the many reasons why Paul and his summer camp assistant Gordon Hodne are receiving this years’ Scoobie Award at Corn Roast. I learned to anticipate what the needs are before you need them, and that’s something I aspire to do to this day.

I held several different jobs at Jewell during seven years as an employee, including counselor, LIT assistant director, Outdoor Center staff and full-time maintenance staff. Paul asked me to come to Woodcutter Weekend in 1978 after my first summer at camp and I’ve been to every one since then. I have also participated in most of the work weekends that are held in the spring. As a result there are a lot of places around camp where I feel connected and it gives me great satisfaction to see the areas I’ve helped build and maintain. Another great joy for me is that my daughters, Brianna and Jocelyn, also participate in as many as they can get, offering them the opportunity to give something back and understand the personal satisfaction that volunteering can bring.

I really enjoy coming up for Corn Roast and actually roasting the corn (instead of boiling it) with Bob Stearns, Doug Malins, Tom Eng and Jerome Alper. Bob and Doug kick started the old tradition that had waned a bit. The fourth session LIT’s help us out quite a bit and some have told me Corn Roast is the highlight of the session for them. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to talk to the campers these days, so that’s another reason I enjoy coming to Corn Roast, along with meeting alumni, both those I knew back in the day as well as some new faces. It reinforces that there’s plenty to do and lots of ways to stay involved at camp.

More than a decade ago, Gary Forster, the executive director at that time, asked me to join the Board of Managers and I was honored to do so. Being on the Board is a way for me to further my involvement with camp and to continue to be a part of giving kids a place where they can be together to talk, make new friends and to be exposed to new things. I served as Vice Chairman for a number of years, and now I have the opportunity to share my expertise as Manchester’s municipal waste water treatment plant supervisor by heading up the Board’s Property Committee.

Another satisfaction I get from camp is having shared it with my family. My wife, Sheryl, worked as a camp nurse at Jewell, and Brianna and Jocelyn grew up as Bandits and Nit Nois. When Jocelyn was old enough, she got to go where she really wanted to be: Ranch Camp. She thrived there, has been a Ranch counselor, and this summer she’s back as Ranch Camp Coordinator. This position has been a goal of hers for years, she worked hard during her previous summers and now she has attained it. I am so proud of her.

Camp grabs you. I see the stories from other kids and counselors and what it means to them and it feels good to be able to relate to them based on my own experiences at camp. Some Board Members come to the check-in area on the first day of a summer session and talk to parents and campers. I high five every one of the campers that tell me they want to meet new friends; this is one of Camp Jewell’s many goals for a summer camp experience here. I also really appreciate the stories from kids who attend camp on scholarship thanks to the generous donations of many alumni and friends of camp to our Strong Kids Campaign.

Participating in the Camp Jewell Cabin Rebuilding Campaign will be an exciting long-term goal of mine—imagine what it will be like with new cabins with lots more bathroom space. I was honored when Kari Trost and I were asked to lead the beginning of the project. We worked over two great weekends at camp with 100 participants where we dreamed, brainstormed, drew and refined ideas for what the future of camp will look like.

Though the details have changed, camp is still the same as it was when you were here. I hope you’ll consider joining us here again one day soon.

A ParaTriathlete is an Inspiration to All!

I met Brett Sloan in 2012 while working with him and 8 other Adaptive Athletes and helping train them for the Dave Parcell’s Madison Sprint Triathlon. Unsure of his ability to complete the entire triathlon, Brett asked to swim on a relay team. Brett is a natural swimmer, comfortable in the pool and was confident! When I had first met him in an open water swim I had noticed that he was apprehensive and unsure about swimming in a lake where there is no pool line to follow, no wall to stop at and the need to spot the buoys along the course. But Brett did it! He got into the water and swam beautifully! Did he zig zag along the course like most of us swimmers, of course! Did he have some spotting issues, why yes! Was he fast, you bet! From that point on I knew we had a natural athlete and was very excited to see him race at the Madison Triathlon.

Due to water conditions being too choppy during the race, they had canceled the swim portion of the event disappointing Brett. Instead, Brett was eager to run the 5K leg of the race proving to himself that he is a team player and wanted to give it a shot. Due to my disappointment of not being able to see Brett swim, Gaylord Hospital and I were able to get Brett into the Hammerfest Sprint Triathlon in Branford that next week and participate in the swim portion of the race. They new our athletes, understood what had happened with canceling the swim and were very eager to help him out. Brett showed up and swim a 1/2 mile in under 12 minutes that morning and from that point on he was hooked! He drank the “kool aid” like most triathletes and found the love of the sport. He has returned this year not as a relay racer but will be completing the full triathlon.

Brett has become an inspiration to so many Adaptive Athletes and was recently highlighted in the USA Triathlon Magazine. You can read Brett’s story at

Consulting an Expert


Camp Wheeler, Week II featured a special Construction Camp for our teens at which they planned to plan, measure, build, and decorate outdoor benches for use at Camp and beyond.  Our Counselors and Campers were enthusiastic, but a bit unsure on some of the more technical aspects of the construction.  They recruited Mr. Tom to help, and a wonderful time was truly had by all.  Our new benches are sturdy, handsome, and a
wonderful reminder of teamwork!

Erica Donovan
Wheeler Regional Family YMCA

Meet Jocelyn Weaver, Camp Jewell’s Ranch Camp Coordinator (and lifelong member of the Camp Jewell family)

I grew up coming to Camp Jewell with my family and I couldn’t wait until I was finally old enough to come to summer camp as a Bandit for two weeks. After being a Nit Nois I turned 12 and was able to go to Ranch Camp, where I worked my way up to CIT and Ranahan. The past two summers I was a Ranch counselor and now I’m really excited to be Ranch Coordinator.

When I first came to Ranch I knew nothing about horses. But as much as Ranch Camp is about the horses, it’s really about the people. I didn’t know anyone when I started and within two days I felt like the other campers were my best friends. That first summer I got my Colt and I still remember how amazing it felt to get called up on the stage at closing campfire to get hugged by all my counselors and to be awarded my neckerchief. At that point in my life, getting my Colt was my biggest accomplishment and that feeling of pride has stuck with me. That’s why I still love Ranch Camp so much, and I feel that sense of pride every time one of our campers earns a neckerchief.

Since Ranchers work so hard, and we spend so much time together, we learn how to turn even the most mundane tasks into games. We turn chores that are exhausting and tedious into fun times. And all that work helps us build camaraderie and makes us even closer friends.

Camp is my home away from home. I consider the friends I’ve made here at camp my family; I’m closer to them than I am to my other friends. When I’m here I feel safe and happy and I want everyone who comes to Ranch Camp to feel like that, too.

The Greater Hartford YMCA and the Hartford Marathon Foundation- A Great Partnership

Since their first event in March, The Greater Hartford YMCA has been part of nearly all of the Hartford Marathon Foundation races. This partnership has allowed us the opportunity to share what we do with the racing community that take part in all the Hartford Marathon Foundation races and we have had a fantastic time doing it!!!

Recently, we were at the Xtreme Scramble #1 which is a 5k race along the riverfront in Hartford. This is a series of races and each one is themed and the course changes each race.  Kristi has just got back into running again and posted a great time for her first race back!!! Heather Labbe also took part and posted a rocking time as well, placing 2nd in her age group!! Great job ladies!!

If you would like to try a fun 5k and support our partnership with the Hartford Marathon Foundation, come out to the next race on July 18th at 6:30pm at Riverside Park!

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Cereal and Butterflies?


First Day of Camp-Monday, June 24

When Andrew, Midori and Aidan ate breakfast today they probably felt like they had also ingested those “Proverbial” butterflies.  Their stomachs felt the flutter of anticipation because today was going to be their “FIRST DAY OF CAMP EVER“!

This afternoon when I sat with the Day Camp kids, I started to ask Midori how she liked Camp. “What was the best part of today?”, I asked.  Midori responded, “Crafts! Look what I made. It’s a house with Pom Poms!” I could clearly see the glitter AND wide smile on her face! She had a great day first day.  I then talked with Andrew. Andrew went to Camp Yankee Trails and was waiting in the Y’s Sunset program for mom. Andrew shared, “I LOVED going swimming!! It was so fun in the pond!”  At no more than 6, he was quite comfortable sharing his swimming experiences with me. As I was finishing with Andrew, a hand flew up and asked, “Can I tell you?” After sharing my name, Aidan shared his. “I’m Aidan. I stayed here ( Camp Indian Valley) and I had fun swimming, too”, he assured me.  All three kids had their first day of Camp ever and could have shared so much more with me if they only had the chance…. I had to turn my attention to the line of other campers who wanted to share their day.

~Lisa Reinhardt                                                                                                           1 Year- Day Camper 8 years- Resident camper, 2 years-CIT and 3 years-Camp counselor and parent of Y campers!