In August of 1988, months after moving to Exeter, NH, my parents were introduced to YMCA Camp Huckins by a family that congregated with us at the Unitarian Universalist church in Exeter. Camp Huckins, in Freedom, NH, is a residential girls summer camp. Roz Novak-Houston and Merci Voorhees Dulany toted their families to Camp Huckins’ Family Camp the year earlier, and suspected the Loosigian crew would really enjoy it. Sure enough, my adventurous and slightly crazy parents packed our wood-paneled Dodge Caravan full of clothes for warm and cold weather, swimming gear, athletic clothes, hiking backpacks, sleeping bags and pillows, my mom’s guitar and songbooks, Dusty (our puppy) and his food for a week, and of course their helpful 8 year-old son, spirited 4 year-old daughter, and me, the 14 month old baby. (I did say crazy, right?)
The summer of 1988 began a tradition that we still maintain. In 1998 (10 years old), I spent my first two weeks as a camper at Camp Huckins. I was in Cabin O with 11 other girls and two counselors; I was terribly homesick, but made it through with the help of Huckins leaders. In 2002 (15 years old) I entered the two-year leadership program to begin training for my lifelong dream of being a Camp Huckins Counselor. In 2004 (17 years old), the dream came true, and Laurence and I spent 9 weeks in Cabin E with four rotations of twelve 13-year olds. We wrote letters home (no cell phones or computers at this point) about how we dressed in funny costumes, stood on our chairs in the dining hall to sing camp songs after every meal, worked at the waterfront, sports field, small crafts beach, and the craft shop, and further solidified our Huckins friendships. I continued working at Camp for eight summers- meeting new friends and strengthening friendships every year. I am so thankful to my adventure-seeking parents for beginning my Y story. Next summer marks my family’s 26th week at Camp Huckins Family Camp; Roz and Merci are among my best friends!
I am lucky that I was raised at a YMCA camp. I am a strong, confident, thoughtful woman who is part of an extensive network of incredible Y-influenced people. My Y story is about amazing people and resilient friendships. I find comfort in knowing that my situation is not unique. Millions of children and adults worldwide find personal strength and friendship through Y programs. The coolest part is that it doesn’t only happen at a camp- the YMCA is changing lives through programming in schools, ski mountains, public sports fields, Y facilities, and beyond. Thank you for hearing my Y story, and sharing yours!
Development Director, Southern District YMCA