Memories Of A Camp Legend

I guess at this point in my Camp Lincoln career I could be considered a camp legend (one of those people that has been at camp so long you’re confident they’re never going to leave).

I started camp at a young age; working my way up from Traditional Camp to On the Road, Bikes and Beaches, and others. Finally I had no other choice but to become a Junior Counselor In Training in 2005. Becoming a CIT was a big deal and is a lot different from being a camper.

My memories of that summer are foggy, but I remember the people, the color of our t-shirts, the CIT hunt (when no one could find me for what seemed like an eternity), and being invited back to camp as a Senior CIT. I decided to turn down the offer. I suddenly had no desire to return to camp as a Senior CIT. I blame turning 15. Looking back, I get it. It takes a special kind of person to volunteer their entire summer to something, not knowing exactly what you would get in return. I took it upon myself to make a phone call to camp to turn down the position. However, that wasn’t the end of it. My mother made it very clear that I actually had no choice in the matter, and because sometimes you just don’t mess with mom, I ended up at Camp Lincoln that year.

The summer of 2006 was the best of my life. I will never forget it. I remember everything from that summer. My counselors, peers, each cabin I was placed in, the names of my campers, and my buddy tag number. I went from not wanting to return to camp, to winning my first Spirit Paddle. Yes, the coveted third session Sr. CIT Spirit Paddle was mine. After my Senior CIT summer I never wanted to leave camp (and I still haven’t!)

Since 2007 I have worked my way up from Camp Counselor, to Arts & Crafts Director, to CIT Director, to my current position as the Summer Program Director. The memories are endless, along with my collection of camp paddles and staff t-shirts.

I am who I am because of Camp Lincoln. Without Camp, I would be the shy, introverted, follower I was destined to become. Camp Lincoln gave me the power to believe in myself, to make the impossible possible, and to never give up on my dreams.

I know that someday I will have to move on and get a ‘big girl job’. LAPRing and Zumbaquatics will no longer be the most exciting part of my day and I won’t be able to carry around a box of Cheez-Its wherever I go. Someday I may leave camp, but camp will never leave me.

Courtney Hoelen
Senior Staff member at YMCA Camp Lincoln

Are you a Camp Lincoln alum who would like to share your Y story? You can do so here!

Courtney in costume at YMCA Camp Lincoln

Courtney in costume at YMCA Camp Lincoln


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