An Open Letter to Supporters of Camp Chickagami

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Dear Supporters of Camp Chickagami,

As spring peeked its fickle eyes up out of the snow last Monday, a fellow teacher asked me, “Brian, what is your favorite memory of your camp?” Rather than bore my co-worker with countless stories ranging from pranks with canoes to night hikes, I turned the question around:
“Oh, I don’t know; what’s your favorite memory from camp?”
“I never went to camp,” came the reply.

My mind made that screechy sound that cartoons make when a car brakes really hard.

Never went to camp? Really?

Never went to camp? Really?

I quickly started a mental assessment of how much memory is occupied solely by camp recollections. What would it be like to have more open space in my brain? Could I be more productive? A better husband? A better teacher? A better father? Would ridding myself of these memories allow me to cure cancer or finally see a reason to watch reality television?
 No, I decided. More space in my brain would not make me a better person.

I am a better person than I would have been because of camp. Where else could I have:
 Learned to make a shelter in the woods? Sung praises to God around the campfire? Enjoyed the morning mist on Lake Esau? Watched a spider spin a web at dusk? Held hands while a child prayed? Popped a balloon with an arrow? Observed great young counselors understand and embrace real responsibility? Stomped my feet? Clapped my hands? Painted? Tie dyed? Built fires? Understood peace? Experienced equality, acceptance, diversity, community, and love? Learned to play guitar? Cried, laughed, and cried all in the same moment? Met a wife? Walked in the woods with my children?

Camp Chickagami is that place for me and could be for you, too. Do you know a child, a member of your church, a neighbor, a grandchild, whose memories and heart could begin to be filled with God’s love, camp fun, and the wonders of this beautiful world? Can we all make the commitment to sponsor at least one child?

Camp Chickagami serves the youth of the Diocese, ages 8-16, and offers facilities for family camping and church retreats.  Please refer to the links on the menu for full details and registration forms and information.


Brian Ouellette
Director, Episcopal Youth Camping Program