“It was December 25th, 1942, and early at that. A sandy-haired little girl came bounding down the stairs in sight of the living room mantle and the bulging stockings. The nearby tree was also laden with a multitude of boxes bright in their holiday wraps. But Carol had only one purpose at the moment. ‘Did they remember what she had been begging of Santa?’ Hurriedly she dug through the nuts and gum and oranges and pulled out a rolled piece of paper tied with a green velvet bow.
‘This must be it,’ she thought. Her squeals of delight brought the rest of the family into the room to see eight-year-old Carol bouncing up and down shouting, ‘I’m going to camp! I’m finally going to camp!'”
Carol, of course, is Skyland Camp for Girls’ own beloved Bunny Brown. And that gift of camp transformed and enriched her life: She returned to her mountain paradise six years as a camper, four years as a counselor, 20 years as an administrator, and 30 years as Director, before settling into her current role. Bunny now serves as Director emeritus and supports year-round Skyland operations. Her favorite time of the year, of course, is summer camp season where she can always been found greeting families on opening and closing days, and teaching culinary arts and horticulture at the Skyland Chalet. She loves to support campers, counselors and staff who, like her, have also been given the gift of camp.
What is the Gift of Camp? Skyland offers girls many gifts that can be unwrapped all year round and for years to come. Gifts like:
- Independence: Campers are in charge of keeping track of their own schedules and all of their personal items, which provides lessons that will translate into increased responsibility at home and in school.
- Self-Confidence: Skyland campers push themselves to excel in new arenas, like archery, horseback riding, musical theatre, and more! That confidence returns home with them! Campers report trying out for volleyball teams, running for a leadership position, or getting the lead in a musical … and often credit their confidence to summer success at Skyland.
- Friendship: Skyland friendships are forever friendships. Campers connect with girls of different ages and backgrounds; Skyland friendships span decades and often lifetimes.
- Community Responsibility: Campers learn how to navigate the ins and outs of being part of a community in a shared-living environment where everyone works together toward common goals. This helps campers develop skills of both leadership and teamwork, conflict resolution and shared goal-setting.
These are the just a few of the life-long gifts that Skyland campers have received over the past 100 years. At the end of each camp season, because of their Skyland experience, girls return home with confidence and a certain spirt that supports them all through the year. Some have said the Skyland energy is “palpable” from the minute they arrive on Skyland Hill. Others refer to it is the “Skyland Spirit” that sustains them all year long! Bunny Brown has known that spirt and energy her entire life!
One summer long ago, Bunny explained the Gift of Camp to her father. For years he sent his daughter to Skyland, yet never fully understood what made the experience so special for her.
She told him: “Dad, what I love about this place you cannot see. You have to feel the atmosphere, the spirit of it all. The warmth we get from the camaraderie, the sharing, the caring, the loving, the achieving in the face of obstacles.”
To this day, Bunny regards that 1942 Gift of Camp as the greatest gift she ever received.
If someone in your life is ready for the Gift of Camp, there is still time for Summer 2017. Maybe the recipient is your daughter, granddaughter, niece, or neighbor. Maybe her life is about to be forever changed by receiving the gift of a lifetime: The Gift of Camp.