A little Fall Cleaning- By Pat Rosin

On these rainy Fall days here at camp we are all trapped inside our little offices, and we tend to get a little stir crazy.  Having ended our hectic Summer season only one month ago, these “office” days get a little long.  So today I tried to change it up a little bit, and do a little “Fall” cleaning.  There has been this one spot behind my desk that just keeps attracting dust, dirt, and even waterbottles for the last couple of months.  I’ve told myself to clean it close to a dozen times, but then the phone rings or an email pings and I just forget to do it.  So today I turned off my email and decided to take on the chore I’ve been putting off for so long.  After only 10 minutes it was nice and clean.  I kicked myself for waiting so long to do something that only took 10 minutes, but I learned something as well.  We all have that space behind our desk, and a lot of the times it just goes forgotten.  Maybe it’s a closet or a corner or even a certain project.  So maybe it’s today or the next rainy day, but I challenge you to turn off the world for a few minutes and try and tackle it.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

 

Pat Rosin

Camp Jewell YMCA

Hero’s from all corners

Camp Jewell YMCA was honored to host The Women’s Wilderness Institute- Women Veterans Retreat this past week. WWI is a non-profit women’s organization based in Boulder, Colorado.  Over 30 women, veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan spent 6-days at Camp Jewell with the WWI & CJ staff.  The women came from all corners of the USA including, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska.  They participated in an intensive immersion experience of supportive and challenging activities in our peaceful natural environment.  The retreat allowed these women to connect with other women veterans and learn tools for dealing with post-traumatic stress and other issues that commonly affect women veterans.  The retreat provided a format for sharing experiences, and education about stress, resilience and life skills.

The Camp Jewell staff was thrilled to be able to work with an organization that is as empowering as Women’s Wilderness Institute.  Their mission is to build courage, confidence and leadership skills for girls and women through the challenge and support of wilderness- and community-based adventures.   It seems as though that was absolutely accomplished.  Our hats off to this great organization and all of its incredible participants!

Sharing the glow

As fall quickly approaches and summer starts to fade, the staff at Camp Jewell start to reflect on yet another amazing summer at camp. Sometimes it’s easy to look at the numbers; over 3400 hours of camp, over 10,000 hot dogs served more than 1400 campers that took swim tests. But camp is so much more than that. It’s the memories made and the friendships formed that will last much longer than the brief amount of time campers were at camp. This summer, we asked our campers to take part in both an essay contest as well as a Chapel where they could write down what camp meant to them. The feedback we received was amazing;  campers from all kinds of backgrounds told us that camp was their special place, a place where they could truly be who they want to be without fear of being judged by others. In today’s society where academic achievement, athletic prowess, and cyber bullying it’s amazing to think that camp provides a safe place for a child to be a child, to learn how to work with each another regardless of from where you come, and to learn independence and good decision making skills.

At Camp Jewell, we end each session with what we call our Candlelight ceremony.  It’s a time to reflect on our stay at camp, what we have learned, and the friendships made.  We end the ceremony with some simple words that we feel everyone should hold true: “Be caring to your parents, respect your teachers and coaches, be responsible for your actions and be true and honest to yourself. Most importantly,  never forget how you have lived at Camp Jewell.”

A spoonful of camp helps the medicine go down

Summer Camp Essay Contest participants Lisa’s story-

For me, camp is like a large dose of medicine that must be taken at least once a year.  I don’t return year after year, session after session to Camp Jewell because I want to, I return because I have to.  Camp simply refreshes my mind.  At Jewell, I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to step back from my hectic home/school life, take a deep breath, and be able to clearly see who I want to be, what I want to do, and what is really important in life.   The people and activities at camp allow my true self to shine completely through to everyone that I encounter.  After the summer’s over, I can take all those crystal clear positive attitudes back home and by the time those thoughts begin to slip, camp is always right around the corner.

This is my 8th summer here at Camp Jewell and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.  After my first summer as a Bandit, my brother and I would sing songs and cheers constantly throughout the house until my mom actually learned the “5 little muffins” song.  But my brother stopped coming and I never understood why.  At camp not only was I always refreshing my mind, but also the people that I see every day.  Each year I met so many interesting people that were so unlike the ones in my small, single-minded town in Westchester, NY.  Here everyone is alive and clearly living life to the fullest each day!  I just see so much good every way that I look, and different cultures fusing together in a safe and fun environment.

Without camp, I would be completely a different person; I think I can pretty much say that every aspect of my life would change.  I wouldn’t have the friends that I have at home because I will still be trying to figure out who I am (not that I really know, but I have a pretty good idea).  I’d never have met any of the kids and counselors that currently go to camp with me and make my life that much better, my family wouldn’t mean as much to me because I would have never realized how truly lucky I am to have them until I left them for 2+ weeks or heard of stories of peers whose family isn’t as fortunate as mine.  And I definitely wouldn’t be nearly as happy.  In fact, I think each year would be a struggle because I just wouldn’t know how to handle all the stresses of growing up.

By Lisa G.

Corn Roasting- A Camp Jewell Tradition for almost 70 years!- PART 1

Session 4 at Camp Jewell is extra special to alumni, campers and staff for several reason- but on of those reasons is the Lewis Fox Annual Corn Roast.  Camp Jewell’s longest running tradition allows us to take a step back into history and remember what camp is all about, friendship.

Lewis Fox was associated with Camp Jewell for most of his adult life.  Campers and Staff remember him as the founder of the annual Corn Roast, which he inaugurated at Lake Swanzey in 1944.  A prominent attorney in Hartford and president of the school board, Lewis Fox was a man of deep faith in God and his fellow man.  He was a mentor to hundreds of young men and women during his life, including many at Camp Jewell. 

Walt Malins recalled Fox in an interview: “He was a tradition long before I became Jewell’s director.  He would come up to Swanzey in August and stay with us for a week.  This is when the Corn Roast was established.  We would pre-cook the corn in great big tanks, put it back in bags, and then toss it into the campfire to roast.  The kids wold butter their own corn and then we would go back and sing.  Lewis Fox would always have a story to share.  He was solid and a good man.  His visits to camp were something the kids always looked forward to, not only because of the Corn Roast, but because they thought so much of him.”

Peter Dowling shared these memories of Fox:  “His demeanor and his stories inspired me beyond words, from my first Corn Roast in 1961, when i was seven, to Lewis’ last one in 1976, two weeks before his death.  He gave real examples of campers and staff who exemplified the ideals of Jewell…… Mr. Fox was a mentor to many young people.  He once wrote to me, ‘I think there are lots of fellows with real potential, but no one ever brings it out.  Fellows in the Inner City and in the suburbs alike need to be believed in.  One of the greatest things about Jewell is that the spirit of God is at the heart of its traditions.”‘ 

Campers and staff revered Lewis Fox.  He shared his admiration for our camp with everyone, and he inspired children to become, in his own words, “the best you can be.”  Highlights of every Corn Roast include hot roasted corn, words of wisdom, memories of “the old days,” and singing of Jacob’s Ladder.  This special evening in his honor continues to this day, almost seventy years after the first on at Lake Swanzey.

                                    Excerpt from:  A Century of Spirit Camp Jewell YMCA 1901-2001

As over 150 Alumni gather at camp this August 11th for the the 68th Annual Lewis Fox Corn Roast we find great joy in celebrating Camp Jewell’s rich history and take a few moments each day to learn about our predecessors.

Camper, Kate, shares inspirational drawing and story

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“Six summers ago, I discovered my own light when I was shown that I am free to be who I am at camp.  I return year after year to experience that sense of belonging despite my differences.  In my piece, the mask symbolizes a false identity many people put up for fear that others won’t like them for who they are. 
The girl in the picture is removing the mask with a smile, signifying relief.  The glowing light from her eyes embodies the ‘astonishing light’ that we all are, which can be found only through being ourselves. Throughout my life, I’ve carried the burden of poor self esteem and worth. Amazingly, at camp, I feel that I am accepted and loved for who I am, and that I don’t have to hide myself from the world. The friendships I have here feel pure, because I know that they love me for me, and not for whom they think I am. 
My personal goal here during the summer is to show those around me that I will accept and love them for who they are, just as they do for me.  I am ears to listen, a hand to hold, and a shoulder to cry on for those who need it.  I do it because my friends here have lifted me off the ground when I could feel my self esteem dissipating.  I am strong and whole at Camp Jewell, and for that reason this place will always stay in my heart.”
 
                          Kate Goldberg, Senior Camper, 2012

Even the nurses at CCMC can get down at Camp Jewell!

For the last couple of months CampJewell has been awash with groups. Last weekend was no different, the girl scouts were present, as were the youth groups, but Jewell also welcomed a new group.  The Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) sent along 40+ nurses for a stress free day away from ‘the office’.

The nurses were broken up into 3 separate groups prior to their arrival.  The green, pink and blue teams came to Jewell with wide eyes and large grins, akin to a bandit checking in for their first day of summer camp.  Dressed head to toe in their team colors, the nurses enjoyed a great day of problem solving and teambuilding which helped to bring casual coworkers closer together.

The day’s finale was perhaps the most memorable.  The three teams were led onto a stranded island which was filled with logs, twine, lifejackets and paddles.  They were then given the challenge of getting their whole team off the island with only the equipment provided.

The teams took competition to a whole new level as they desperately worked together to build the raft that would give them ultimate bragging rights.  Hilarity ensued as half built rafts began to tip and fall in the water.  The green team eventually made it across first but every single CMCC nurse went home feeling like a winner after a great day of bonding together within the unique grounds of Camp Jewell.  What a great day we all had & what a great partnership to begin!

Dust off those Dreams

Once a week for about a year now, I have been receiving an e-votional from the pastor of my parent’s church.  Admittedly, in the beginning I rarely read them.  I brushed them aside or skimmed over the stories just looking for info on how some of the older members of the church were doing.  However, in the past few months I have really begun to enjoy them and I look forward to reading her stories.  I even share them with a few colleagues in the office on occasion.  The stories she tells seem to relate more and more to the happenings here at camp. 

As a staff, spirituality is something that can be a struggle for us.  Some of us are more comfortable than others to voice our true feelings and share our beliefs.  Maybe it’s a New England thing; I’m not totally sure, but whatever it may be, it’s been a challenge for as long as I can remember and is certainly a bit of a void that we would like to fill.  Spirituality is an extremely important component of the resident camp and YMCA experience and something that with Pastor Donna’s help has been a bit easier for us to wrap our heads around here.

A little background on the Pastor- she used to write editorials for a fancy fashion magazine in NYC before she found her calling in the ministry.  In her most recent e-votional she said she had received a letter from a colleague thanking her for inspiring him and that he referred to it when he needed inspiration.  The article she had written those years ago was titled “Dust off those Dreams”.  She said she had no idea that she had made an impact on him, and she was just passing along a blessing that someone had given her.  She also said that because of his letter she realized she too had many letters to write to those that inspire her.

In her words “May today you take a moment to dust off your dreams and reach deep down inside to discover who God is calling you to be and what God is calling you to do in this world. And, if you have been inspired by the encouraging words of another, may you write them a letter as my friend did for me. May this day you be a blessing with what you say and the things you do”.

So as I sit here reading this letter Ray received, it made me think, what a blessing it is that Matt took a moment to reflect thank Ray for inspiring him.  What a blessing it is that Matt had the opportunity to come to camp.  It also made me think about all the people I should  write a letter to.  Kudos to Matt for taking the time.  

Below is Matt’s letter-

Hi Mr. Zetye,

If you remember me, my sister and I came to Camp Jewell a few years back.  Unfortunately, because of sports we haven’t been able to come back.  Recently I have found much success while playing volleyball, being given the opportunity to pay at the Junior Nationals in Minneapolis last year and Dallas this year and I am being recruited by several schools including one of my favorites and both my mothers and your alma mater, Springfield, so I am constantly training so that I can play in college.  I recently found my camp yearbook and began looking through it; it brought back so many great memories and i began to think about everything happening in and throughout my life.  I wanted to take time to say thank you to you and all of the staff that I had the pleasure of meeting and bring around at camp.  I realized that without going to Camp Jewell, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today and I probably wouldn’t have had the same amount of success as I have, more the confidence to so some of the things that I do now.  I truly believe that there is something special about the camp.  It forces a person to come out of their shell and have fun while being creative allowing everyone to share their talents, creating some of the best memories I have and some of the best experiences that I will never be able to forget.  Before camp, I probably would’ve never jokingly danced to music before a game and I would’ve never had the courage to meet some of the most inspirational people I know.  I still keep in touch with counselors from years ago joking about things in our lives, talking about sports, and anything else happening, and now I am always having fun joking around, dancing and doing crazy things before games.  Coming out of my shell and learning to just be yourself and have fun were some of the greatest lessons I could’ve ever learned from camp bringing out a side of me that without Camp I still today think would be hidden.  Also, when you talk about friendships that last you couldn’t have said it any better. I still am in touch like I said with counselors (RJ in particular) and we are always talking about things.  He is one of my closest and best friends; he has come almost like an older brother who I can talk to about anything rather than just another counselor.  Also, many of the kids that I met while there I still keep in touch with and have even hung out with a few times outside.  It’s amazing how close you can get to someone one in just 2 weeks that seem to fly by.  Some of the best friends I have are camp alum and we always joke about the fun times we have at camp and all our memories.  Lastly, something that will stick with me forever, the 4 colors/words Red, Yellow, Green and Blue: Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.  I try to live my life following all of these words and always striving to be my best, never going into anything half-hearted.  I am truly thankful that I has the opportunity to go to camp and experience everything, and because of Camp Jewell I am the person I am today.  I want to say keep up the great work and hopefully many others feel the same way I do about such an amazing place, and one that is very close to my heart. 

 

Thank you for everything,

Matt