Power of new friends, accomplishments on display at Camp Campbell Gard

Thousands of children visited YMCA Camp Campbell Gard in 2016. These future business, government, and social leaders rode horses, climbed the ropes course, shot arrows, and paddled canoes. For many children, camp is the only place where these experiences can be a reality.

But our YMCA camp is so much more than the tools we use to bring our campers together. When asked about a camp experience, kids (and adults) talk about what they did. What’s so much harder to explain is the way camp made them feel.

When a camper says, “we had so much fun at archery,” they are often searching for a way to express “My counselor taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow. My cabin mates cheered for me when I hit the bullseye. I felt like I was part of my group.”

When a camper says, “we rode horses and it was pretty cool,” often they are really saying “I’ve never done this before. My counselor was there with me and encouraged me to try something new. When I stepped off that horse I was filled with a sense of accomplishment. I faced my fear and overcame it!”

When a camper says, “I met a boy who uses a wheelchair,” often they are really saying “I learned more about another person. I realized we’re not so different.”

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Click here or call 513-867-0600 to learn more about summer camp opportunities at Camp Campbell Gard

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The most powerful part of summer camp is also the hardest part to explain.

Summer camp generates an electric atmosphere. The dynamic combination of independence, new experiences, mutual support, and expanding self-esteem creates unique energy. Strangers on Sunday are friends on Friday. Acquaintances in June are inseparable in August. Something about watching the sunset over the river with your cabin group speaks to the heart. Something about the whole camp population singing the chorus of “Linger” as the campfire smoke wafts through the air comforts the soul. Something about sharing a cabin with your peers and your counselors activates your truest self.

Without a word, you’re initiated into the community of YMCA Camp Campbell Gard and while you have neither a piece of paper to prove it nor any formal ceremony, you feel it with utmost certainty.

As we move toward June and prepare for YMCA Camp Campbell Gard’s 92nd summer of operation, the camp community prepares to welcome hundreds more children. We are preparing the tools of our trade. The horses, high ropes course, and canoes are ready to go.

But so much more importantly, the wave of love, support, inclusion, and achievement is gathering again and our children reap the benefit. We can’t wait to share our energy with our campers this summer. Camp will change your life if you let it.

Pete Fasano grew up in Fairfield Twp. and attended YMCA Camp Campbell Gard as a kindergartner. He has 15 years of camp experience as a counselor, equestrian coordinator, program director, and executive director.

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