I first heard about Sandy Island Camp, a family Y camp on Lake Winnipesaukee, when I was backpacking through Europe. It’s not so much that this Y camp is world famous but rather a group of gregarious men I met in Italy were constantly talking about this 66 acre island in the heart of a New Hampshire lake. From their countless stories, I could tell that “Sandy” had a significant influence on their lives. Being a native Californian, I had very little exposure to camps. In fact the only away camp I attended was nestled in the Hollywood foothills.
It turned out I fell in love with one of those gregarious “Sandy” men, Dave Todaro. I moved 3,000 miles to close the gap of our long distance romance and start a new life on the East Coast. Now that I was part of the inner circle, I began my journey of understanding the magic of Sandy Island. Dave spent his childhood summers at camp with his four older sisters because his dad was the camp director. I found it fascinating that families would vacation at the same location year after year. Dave made countless lifelong friends and as he and his friends grew older they became camp staff spending their summers working and tightening those bonds of friendship. At some point in each of their lives, summers were taken up with careers which ended their reign of summer-long occupancy. In order to get their “Sandy” fix, this group of friends started coming back to the island as campers each year for Labor Day weekend.
I had been in New Hampshire for only 10 weeks before I first stepped foot on Sandy Island that fateful September weekend. Little did I know at the time, my visit to “Sandy” was a test I needed to pass before Dave would consider a marriage proposal. Luckily, I immediately fell in love with the island and its wonderful campers. Over the years the camp family grew. Soon there were weddings-some performed on the island-and newborn ‘Sandyites”.
I have been coming to camp for the past 12 years. My whole family now looks forward to our Sandy Island week. It’s a time to reconnect and unplug. I have realized through the years that this family camp is more than a rock in the middle of lake where you kayak, swim, and play bocce. This is a place that bonds people to one another because it is timeless.
This is a place where you can step back from your daily commitments and relax with friends and family on a beach, on a lodge porch or in a sailboat. This is a place that when the sun is shining you are throwing the ball with your children or playing shuffle board and when it’s raining you find a spot to introduce a classic board game.This is a place where we can all get back to what is really important…connecting with one another.
This Californian found the meaning of “Y camp,” and is now a camper for life!
Lisa Todaro lives in North Hampton with her husband, Dave, and their two children.