Two weeks at an overnight camp, especially at YMCA Camp Kitchikewana, is something that will stay with a kid for a lifetime. My name is Jaspar Bienzle and this is my Kitchi Story.
Ten years ago, I showed up at the town docks in Honey Harbour, ready for my first overnight camp experience. I was excited, nervous, scared and probably still angry that my parents wouldn’t let me bring my MP3 with me. I had never been in a situation like this before, where I would be sleeping, eating and living with other kids I didn’t even know. When I arrived at the island I was greeted by the excited staff members and the other kids in my cabin, W6. After the first few days, my fears were eased as I joined in with my cabinmates in playing tether-ball and the card game President. When my parents picked me up at the end of the two weeks, I am certain the first thing I asked was if I could go back the next year. On the car ride back, I also vividly remember not giving anyone else a chance to speak as I explained everything about camp, from the friends I made to the all camp competition of Lumbermen and Voyageurs.
As I look back on my camp experience today, I can honestly say that almost every aspect of my life is in some way or another connected to my time there. One of my close friends today I met in this cabin 10 years ago, and I am still in contact with others from this group. In the summers that followed, I added to this friend group and have since built a community that is spread out geographically today, but still together as ever. Throughout my years at Kitchi, I developped skills like how to tie a bowline knot, how to portage a canoe, how to sing at campfire, and how to identify poison ivy. These are the same skills that I would share in my letters back to my family as being my proudest accomplishments. As I learned these talents, I was supported by my counsellors, my friends, and really everyone around me at camp. These people gave me confidence in my abilities and have allowed me to try new things without the fear of failure. Camp is a spot where all your “real world” worries are put to rest and you can just be yourself and have fun. You develop teamwork skills and social skills that will benefit you in many ways for the future. You begin to learn how to take responsibility by helping to set the table for meals and clean up the cabin. I can truly say that I look up to every one of my camp friends and have seen many of them grow into responsible leaders as well.
It is extremely difficult to explain just how important camp has been in shaping who I am today, simply through a written page. But as I sit here right now finishing up my first year in university, I can tell you that I am VERY excited to return back to Kitchi this summer and share the camp experience with others.