Today a dear friend gave me a copy of this staff picture from 1991, which brought back many fond memories of my time as a counselor, program director, and CIT director. It especially reminded me of how thankful I am for all the wonderful people God put in my life, especially Mary Ann French, who recently passed to eternal life. Although Mary Ann’s passing is a tremendous loss to her family and to our camp community, we are consoled knowing she will be interceding for us in true Mary Ann fashion.
Being a former camper and counselor, I wanted to give the gift of camp to my own children. This was not an easy decision for my wife as she had never gone to camp and couldn’t fathom sending our children away for two weeks. In the end we decided to send our three oldest as junior campers and they have been coming ever since. This summer our eight oldest children will attend camp as 5 campers, 1 CIT, and 2 counselors.
Looking back on my 12 years as a camper and counselor, I intuitively knew that camp instilled the social and leadership skills essential in my vocation as a husband, father, teacher, school principal, and now camp director. This belief, confirmed in seeing these same skills instilled in my own children, is the reason I came back to camp. I want to ensure that girls and boys are given the same gifts and opportunities we received as campers and counselors for years and years to come and honestly, I need your help.
There are three ways you can help us continue the great tradition of helping girls at Camp Bernadette and boys at Camp Fatima grow in faith, learn new skills, gain confidence to try new things, strengthen friendships, and take home memories that last a lifetime. First, consider sending your children to camp as campers. We offer starter week at both camps and now offer a one-week session for boys of all ages 6 – 15 at Camp Fatima. Both are great introductions to camp. Second, we are asking alumni to spread the good word about camp to their family and friends. Some alumni and current families are hosting camp shows in their homes, which we have found to be very successful. If you are interested in hosting a show please let us know.
Lastly, a great way to support camp is by giving to our annual fund drive. Last summer we gave almost $200,000 in financial aid to families in need so they could send their sons or daughters to camp. Your gift would allow us to give even more deserving children the gift of camp through our needs-based financial aid program. Even young alumni are getting involved at Bernie, giving based on the year they started camp. For example, if they started in 1999 they gave $19.99 to our Bernie Push Pay account. The Bernie girls are challenging the Fatima boys to do the same using the Fatima Push Pay.
Some of my fondest memories from last summer included seeing friends during our alumni visitors’ days at Bernadette and Fatima and when they were dropping off or picking up their children at camp. Please know you are always welcome at camp and it brings us great joy to see you and welcome you home. Many of you stop by during the off-season, some volunteer as counselors during Special Needs Week, some volunteer during the summer like Michael Sullivan who ran the swim meets during the Olympics, and some bring their families on visitor day or at one of our open houses for potential campers.
I invite all of you to re-connect with camp in some way. Share this blog with your camp friends and help us update our database by sending your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. By doing this you will also receive camp news and updates throughout the year. All information regarding camp, visitor days, open houses, and how to give to our annual fund are on our website at www.bfcamp.com.
The Bernie and Fatima Staff and I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!