What RKY Is to Me?
Lydia was a second-year staff member at RKY this past summer.
RKY is my home, it’s a place where I not only feel like I belong but I know I belong. Throughout my life I never felt like I belonged anywhere, other than camp and I know that I’m defiantly not the only person who feels this way.
Why do I keep coming back? Well at camp I’m a better version of myself, at camp I feel like I can actually be me, all of me.
Camp has made me a better person, this place has made me love myself and believe in myself, this is something I never thought would be possible. Camp makes everything seem possible. RKY has made me grow as a person and taught me how to be crazy and how to come out of my shell, and that its okay to be crazy sometimes. I believe that camp is so beneficial to everyone, I wish everyone could experience what RKY has to offer, because RKY is truly amazing.
Just Be Ben
Ben was timid at the start of the session. He saw how close the rest of the LITs were, and wasn’t sure if he’d fit into the group. In the evening Ben would talk with his counsellor about his day and how he was having fun, but was having trouble being himself and letting the other campers see who he really was. He said he was the ‘funny guy’ in his group of friends back home, and that he felt like this new group of people didn’t really click with him.
Midway through the session Ben left camp to attend a family event. He was pretty excited to go back to his own bed for a night and to use his phone and what not. But as he returned the next day, everyone saw that same excitement that he had when he left. This was the point where Ben really understood how welcoming RKY is, and how without even knowing it, he had made a home for himself at camp. He told his counsellor that when he was sitting at home, he was singing camp songs and counting the hours till he could come back.
Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Ben saw that camp is a place where he could be himself and not worry if he will fit in. RKY Camp is a place where all are welcome, and it’s the diversity in personalities that make the place so special. He had learned that the best way to make friends was to just be Ben.
A Leader, Like Me!
Emma began coming to RKY Camp in 2006 as a ten-year-old camper. She has just finished her sixth year on staff as the Program Director. RKY Camp and its community have taught Emma everything from portaging a canoe to body positivity to public speaking, and hundreds of things in between. She believes that camp is a place of learning and teaching, with no risk of failing or being judged, which helps to foster a deep bond between campers and staff of all ages.
Emma believes that camp has been as special for her as it is, throughout her entire tenure at camp, because of the consistency of the "Quality 8" -- the eight tenants that RKY values and lives by. These quality 8 are: RKY Camp is fun, RKY Camp is safe, RKY Camp is a place of friendships, RKY Camp is a place of belonging, RKY Camp campers learn and are challenged, RKY Camp treasures the natural world, RKY Camp meets campers' personal life needs, and RKY Camp is a place to return to. Because of the fostering of these tenets, many RKY alumni, including Emma, have a deep passion for teaching, for the natural world, and for helping others.
Finding the Moments
My daughter is a lively and outgoing 10 year old. She has endless energy and an incredible spirit. She also has a lot of trouble with emotional regulation and impulse control. She has ADHD and a NVLD learning disability. This makes social interactions and keeping friends very difficult. She is an incredibly funny, kind, loving and generous person, but because of her learning difficulties she has low self-esteem.
Her first year at RKY was at age 7 and she attended a one week program. I worried how she would feel being away from home for the first time for an extended period; I also was very concerned about how she would do socially. I need not have worried as she got off the bus at the end of the week glowing with joy and self-worth. She proclaimed that she would like to go the next year for one month, before even stopping to give me a hug. In her second year again she came home the most satisfied with herself as I have ever seen her. She had won two awards, and the pride she took in those was palpable. She had made friends at camp who expressed sadness at seeing her go.
The staff do an amazing job of finding the moments to build her up emotionally as well. She comes home telling of many instances where she was commended for her actions or ability and those are things that she needs so much. I am having difficulty expressing just how much this program allows her to be her true self while at the same time guiding her in growing as a person and meeting all her emotional as well as physical needs. I can truly see her continuing each year until she hopefully one day is able to transition to staff. Continually growing and learning along the way.
An ever grateful mom