Favorite Camp Memory – Eileen Leaser

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Eileen Leaser- A Arizona Camp Sunrise & Sidekicks volunteer shares a favorite camp memory.

As someone who grew up during the transition period when technology was emerging, I often get discouraged by the amount of time children spend watching television, playing video games, and using cell phones and laptops. I see less imagination, physical activity, and interaction as technology evolves. At camp, teens often want to be on their cell phone when they are in the cabins at night. As a counselor, I always hope that we can find games, tell scary stories, or find some other way to create the magic of camp and encourage social interaction and building friendships.
One of my favorite memories came from the past teen winter retreat. We had a cabin full of young teen girls, and many wanted to be on their phones before bed. However, a new counselor and myself decided to start a card game that we play together outside of camp. This game is called Anomia. In this game, everyone sits in a circle and each person selects a card. Each card has a symbol on it as well as a unique category. Categories include country capitals, authors, food categories, actors, movies, etc. If at any point, there are two people in the circle with the same symbol, one must state something under the category on the other person’s card before the other person states something under the category on their card. Whoever does this first earns the other person’s card. The goal is to have the most cards won at the end of the game. Slowly, I watched each member of the cabin leave her phone and come to play the game. Everyone was excited, shouting answers and laughing. No one picked up a phone for the rest of the evening, and they wanted to play that game, along with various other games, throughout the weekend. Anomia ended up starting many conversations about geography, food, sports, and many other topics that encouraged group participation as well as individual ideas and passions. Some of the kids even started quizzing each other and us on geography and Arizona facts. It was easily one of my favorite weekend retreats. I witnessed no exclusion of others, and I watched kids celebrating each other’s strengths and differences without putting down others different ideas. Watching young people with different backgrounds engage with one another and have different ideas and opinions, and feel able to express these in an accepting environment was easily one of my favorite “this is why I keep coming back to camp” moments.

Favorite Camp Memory with Adam Davi

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Adam Davi- A long time camp volunteer shares a
favorite camp memory.

My favorite camp story is from one of my first few years at camp. Every year as part of the camp
activities we break into activity groups where campers and counselors from different cabin groups get
put together to play some games. I had been in an activity group with one particular camper for three
straight years, and she barely spoke five words to me in those three years combined. This particular
year the theme for camp was How the West Was Fun and our activity group name was the Cowboy
Hats. So I made up this silly little cowboy hats song for our group to sing as we walked from one activity
to the next. Nobody really sang along with me, but I had fun with it so I kept singing it all week. Fast
forward to the end of the week and Family Day. This little camper who had barely spoken to me in three
years tracked me down during all the craziness of Family Day just so I could sing the Cowboy Hats song
to her family.
I was blown away. I had no idea that this silly song I just made up had made any impact on anybody.
But that’s what camp is. It’s little moments that make campers feel special and welcomed and
accepted. And it showed me that being there and having fun can make a difference in a child’s life. On
a side note, that camper has continued to come to camp, is now a counselor herself, and sings her own
songs to campers!