A summer well spent: Students spend summer break at various camps, establish long-lasting friendships


Photo submitted by Savannah Spicer.

Hailey McEntee, Maddie Jewett, Co-Editor, Features Editor

Camp Tekawitha
Over the summer, multiple Blue Valley students attended Camp Kateri Tekakwitha, a Catholic camp in Williamsburg, Kan., open to incoming fifth through twelfth graders. Campers partake in countless religious activities in addition to outdoor activities including ropes courses, horseback riding, canoeing, mountain boarding, biking and swimming.
“I like going to camp because it is just so much fun,” senior Mallory Hickey said. “I get to strengthen my relationship with God, be around some of my closest friends, make new friends and do crazy things like jump off of a 30-foot telephone pole.”
Over the six summers Hickey went to camp, she said she encountered Christ.
“My favorite memory from camp would have to be deep prayer night going into my freshman year,” Hickey said. “It was the first time I had ever been to adoration. That night I felt the Holy Spirit and really fell in love with God.”
Hickey said her life would be very different without attending Tekakwitha.
“If I hadn’t gone to camp, I don’t think I would be where I am today,” she said. “My faith life and relationship with God would not be nearly as strong. I would have never formed friendships with some of the people I have been friends with for five or six years.”
Junior Allison Gliesman also attends Camp Tekakwitha every summer.
“The camp community is so different from any other,” Gliesman said. “It creates an atmosphere of crazy love, genuine friendship and just pure joy. Everyone is there for the same reason — to grow in their relationship with God — and that makes everything so much more authentic.” Hickey said campers build strong relationships at camp.
“At camp you share all of your struggles and challenges that you face at home and at school,” she said. “You are in such a vulnerable state, and your cabin mates and brother or sister cabins get to know you on a very personal level. The friends I have made at camp are some of my closest friends. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Since Hickey is a senior, this was her last year.
“Words can not explain how much I am going to miss camp,” she said. “It has been such a big part of my life, and I have grown in so many aspects of my life there. I would not trade my experiences and friendships I have made there for anything in the world.”

Holding hands, the campers gather around the stage, tears streaming down their faces. They look around at each other with love in their eyes.
And then they sing: “Goodbye friends. Goodbye friends. Goodbye friends, until we meet again.”
Sophomore Lance Jewett is a 7-year camper at Stageworx. This summer Jewett was the lead in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream-coat.
“I would describe camp as a 6-week long summer theater camp,” he said. “But the friends and experiences you have there are worth so much more than that.”
Two-year camper sophomore Maria Wonderlich said she couldn’t imagine this summer
without camp. Wonderlich was a narrator, one of the lead roles in Joseph this summer.
“When my mom asked me if I wanted to do camp again this summer, I thought she was joking,” she said. “How could I not want to come back?”
Wonderlich said the relationships created at camp were unlike any other friendships.
“My favorite part about camp this summer was definitely the bond created between me and several people I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” she said. “Camp has a way of making people get close to each other a million times faster than they would under normal circumstances.”
Stageworx also collects money and goods for various charities around the community.
“The fundraising aspect makes it more special because it’s different from other places in that we do things other than just putting on a show,” Jewett said.
Wonderlich said Stageworx has changed her for the better in more ways than one.
“Camp has made me so much more outgoing than I ever imagined I could be,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t have known how to make friends freshman year if I hadn’t done camp.”
The camp is for students in sixth through ninth grade, so this was Jewett and Wonderlich’s last summer of camp.
“I’m going to miss the feeling of family between the staffers, campers, and me,” she said. “We all just really love each other.”

Senior Jeff Jacobs spent about a month of his summer at Kanakuk, a Christian summer camp for people ages 7-18.
“Everyday you have a schedule,” he said. “You specialize in a sport and have some minors in other sports. The guys lift weights every day.”
Jacobs said Kanakuk taught him how to live his life every day.
“Camp has really taught me to live my life out loud for Christ,” he said. “It gets you spiritually ready for the year ahead and helps you grow deeper in your relationship with Christ.”
Senior Savannah Spicer said Kanakuk has helped her grow in her faith.
“I first went to Kanakuk last year because I’ve been raised a Christian but didn’t really know how to live my life as one,” she said. “I continued to go because of the amazing experience — I get to spend a week or more learning about how to better my life and the lives of others, I get to meet friends from all over the country and I get to stay in a positive atmosphere.”
Spicer said she decided to go to camp for two weeks this summer rather than just one.
“My favorite part of camp was staying for a second week,” she said. “For the second week, we basically worked at camp. We had to clean bathrooms, help make meals in the kitchen and be mini-counselors for the junior kids. It was very challenging but was so worth it.”
Spicer said camp taught her to live her life at home the same as she does there.
“For me, camp acts as my goal,” she said. “Every year I go, I have the time of my life and leave with the goal of living my life at home in the same way I do at camp. I strive to stay in God’s word every day, to stay friendly to every- one and to stay fired up about Jesus when I’m home. At camp all of these aspects come easily.”
Spicer said Kanakuk counselors tell the campers it isn’t the actual camp that’s so inspiring, but what campers do there that changes lives.
“Kanakuk has taught me that I can live my life following Christ no matter where I am,” she said. “It’s not as easy at home as it is at camp, but it’s something to strive for. During closing ceremonies, they always tell us, ‘There’s nothing special about Kanakuk. There is nothing here that makes you all love God or desire Jesus. It’s reading God’s word daily, surrounding yourself with other Christians and having fun in God’s name that makes Kanakuk so different.’”