About a year ago, I received a phone call from, then an acquaintance, now a treasured friend, Beth Dow. The former Camp Director of Camp Fish Tales had taken a job out of state and Beth was asking if I would like to accept the position of Camp Director at Camp Fish Tales. As a retired special education teacher I was beyond excited to start on this new adventure.
I met with Beth and some staff members a few times before I moved up to camp mid May. I was impressed with the progress Camp Fish Tales had made since I had visited the summer of 2016. We started preparing for the arrival and training of our summer camp counselors. It was such a pleasure getting to know the young people who would be our counselors for the season. We provided a week of training before any campers arrived, we wanted to make sure we had the “cream of the crop” recruits to service our awesome campers. In all honesty, a few people decided that this was not the summer job for them. We appreciated that they let us know this during training week and our recruits and staff became a TEAM as that week went on. We felt we had prepared this “crop” of young people to be a companion to their special campers that they would meet throughout summer. We had a lot of training but also a lot of bonding along with learning some new and silly camp songs, preparing skits and enjoying campfires and s’mores (of course s’mores, its camp).
Our first group of campers arrived in June, we were all a bit nervous as we had all never worked together and for several of our counselors, this was their first job. Our campers arrived on Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening found us gathered together on our first hayride of the season. I cannot begin to explain the wonderful feeling I got when I saw this group of camp- ers and counselors together on the hay wagon. We barely got everyone loaded when one of our counselors started singing one of our camp songs. Campers and counselors all joined in as a group and enjoyed the songs and the hayride, I could tell, not only would it be a great week it was going to be an amazing summer. Did we have some bumps in the road, sure we did; did we provide an amazing outdoor experience for some special campers, you bet we did! Camp Fish Tales has become a second home to me and most of our counselors. These young people united as one to provide a truly extraordinary summer for their campers and themselves. They put the needs of others before their own needs to make this happen. There is allure that happens at Camp Fish Tales, the Indians call it “Orenda” meaning “magic power”, it’s the special way that campers, counselors and all staff are transformed from spending just a week and this camp. I am truly blessed that I was able to spend my entire summer here and look forward to an even better 2018 season.
“I was given a chance. A chance to go back and do what I love, a chance to prove myself, a chance to change lives. I am so thankful for this chance because without it I wouldn’t have made so many friends, so many memories, I wouldn’t have cried so many tears out of love, and I wouldn’t have been able to make the differences I have made in so many lives.” Tara Reed
“I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the summer due to an amazing job. The first week with this suitcase, I was quiet, shy, and unsure if I wanted to keep doing this. But now, at the end of the season, I look back and I thank the Lord for guiding me to stay. I’ve seen all the things living out of a suitcase does for you. You meet people with the same passions, the same willing- ness to take on challenges. It’s brought me some of the greatest friends I have ever known. Most of all, living out of a suitcase this summer has taught me a lot about myself and has shown me that caring for others is one of the greatest privileges in the world.” Taylor Pajak
“Ten weeks ago I started a job that I was scared about, a job that was going to help me decide if I could handle the career. I will never forget the summer I had at camp fish tales the people I met and the friend- ships I made. Thank you fish tales for the best summer I’ve had.” Kristy A Fair
Camp has become a part of the fabric of America — conjuring special memories of hiking, swimming, friendships, and adventure for generations. When children go to camp, they’ll likely come home gushing about the lifelong friends they’ve made, and the exciting adventures they had. What they probably won’t tell you about are the life lessons camp has given them — those skills that, if nurtured at home after camp, translate into a lasting self-confidence, an awareness of the importance of kindness, and a greater comfort in voicing their opinions.
For more than 150 years, camp has been changing lives — allowing all children to feel successful, especially those who may struggle with traditional educational settings. Camp is full of fun and excitement, but it is so much more — developing children who are better equipped to lead in the twenty-first century with skills such as independence, empathy, the ability to work as part of a team, and a broader world view.
Camp is a safe and nurturing environment that enhances social skills. Camp is for everyone, so children and youth have the opportunity to meet and interact with peers from outside their school environment.
Camp supplements traditional education. Camps use intentional programming to create a balance of experiential learning opportunities that are physical, emotional, and social.
Camp provides experiences that promote self-confidence and future academic growth. American Camp Association® (ACA) independent re-search shows that parents and camp staff, as well as the campers themselves, report significant growth in several areas, including leadership, independence, social comfort, and values and decisions.
Camp encourages a respect and love of nature. Children are able to learn about the natural world. Camp also gives them a chance to “unplug.” More and more experts are advocating the value of time spent in nature for children — and camp is a perfect place to do that.
Camp provides the opportunity to stay physically active. Camp is the ultimate outdoor experience with programs that offer physical activities and sports that enhance health and teach self-confidence.
Camp is a natural extension of the classroom. Research indicates that by participating in strategically planned, structured summer experiences, children reduce summer learning loss. Camp challenges children, keeps them engaged, develops creativity and their talents, and expands their horizons.
The Gleaner Life Insurance Society, Mid Michigan Arbor donated two ADA picnic tables to Camp Fish Tales. These beautiful tables are wheelchair accessible, rugged and built to last. The thermoplastic coating withstands heat, cold and all weather elements. The group presented the tables to our Fall Respite campers. Campers and counselors helped assemble the tables. These tables will receive a place of honor under the new picnic pavilion.
Camp Fish Tales hosted its First Annual Fish Races on Saturday, March 10th. Wooden fish, made and donated by the carpentry students from the Greater Michigan Construction Academy, were sponsored by local businesses and individuals. We had some very creative fish this year!
This year’s event was attended by over 100 individuals. Kevin Kendrick was our emcee and track announcer for the evening. The races raised over $9,000 to support the programs and scholarships that we provide to individuals with disabilities.
Honors for this year’s event include; Best Dressed Fish Winner, Vicky Jezweski & Natalie Herber “Chasing the Captain” and Fastest Fish Winner, Forshee Friends & Family “Hook-it”.
A huge thank you to everyone that attended! What an energetic crowd we had! Thank you for all your continued support and a big thanks to everyone that sponsored a fish, made a donation and attended. You truly made our event exciting and fun! We couldn’t do it without you! EVENT SPONSORS: GOLD: Fisher Companies, Garber Chevrolet of Linwood, Ieuter Insurance Group, Kevin & Jennifer Kendrick, ReMax of Midland, Sowle Properties, Dr. Buchanan, DDS, Dr. Derek Sanders, DDS, Dr. Darl Pochert, DDS SILVER: Special Tree Rehabilitation, United Bay Community Credit Union, Yeo and Yeo, Disability Network of Mid-Michigan FOOD SPONSORS: Lalonde’s Market, Valley Food, Weiss Fruit Market