Finding Clearwater Camp

01.06.2015 By Liz Baker

Clearwater Camp’s experience for our girls is something that cannot be found elsewhere. Every girl or young woman who has found their way to Clearwater has benefited some way from the personal growth and experiences here. We know just what camp can do for a young person long into adulthood.

The following is a piece from one of our parents who tells how finding Clearwater has impacted her daughter’s life. I had the pleasure of meeting Deanna Conklin-Danao, her husband Paul and daughters Emma and Avery this fall when she hosted a recruitment gathering. I’m so glad she decided to share with you her thoughts and feelings about finding Clearwater Camp.

Finding Clearwater Camp

By Deanna Conklin-Danao

Sending our daughter Avery to summer camp was not something that was on the top of mind for either my husband or me. Neither of us had much experience with camp growing up. However, when Avery came to us saying she wanted to go to camp after hearing about the great time a friend of hers had at camp, it made perfect sense.

I am a project-oriented person by nature and jumped into the process of trying to pick the right camp for our girl. I knew I wanted an all-girls camp that provided a supportive environment that encouraged kids to try new activities, promoted personal growth and helped campers to build friendships.

With those broad criteria, I scoured the Internet. I talked with friends that had attended camp growing up as well as those friends with daughters that were happy campers. I received a lot of information and advice but the bit that stuck with me the most was to find a camp that had a higher percentage of return campers and also had many former campers as counselors and to find a camp that had a wide range of activities. This was a sign of a strong sense of community and high satisfaction.

I considered a number of excellent camps and spoke with some really wonderful people, but Clearwater Camp definitely stood out. One of the lines from the website- “helping girls build confidence, adventurous spirits and friends for a lifetime.” summarized what I wanted for Avery and it had all of the activities that I wanted her to experience.

What really made the difference for me though was how friendly and inviting the staff was to my questions and concerns. One of the questions I asked was how my quiet, but very friendly, kid would bond with other campers. She is a curious, engaging and energetic kid and she prefers one-on-one time to big groups. Melinda walked me through how the first couple days are designed to create a bond within the cabin. She let me know that the kids are assigned to tables at meals so no one feels left out, but that the tables change so the kids can interact with everyone. The atmosphere is inclusive and engaging, meant to draw out kids in a comfortable way. As much as anything else, the detail and warmth behind that answer made Clearwater an easy decision for our family.

Fast forward to camp drop-off. She was one of the first campers there and was a little nervous. However, everyone we met was wonderful. Avery met her counselor, Thea, who walked her around the camp and let her pick her bunk first (top, of course). The camp was exactly what we hoped for and by the time we left twenty minutes later, Avery was all smiles.

Within days, letters detailing everything she loved (the girls in her cabin, sailing, the food). When I picked her up, my quiet girl climbed in the car and talked for 90 minutes straight about camp. Her first words were, “I have to go for 3 ½ weeks next year.” She cried herself to sleep for her couple of nights home because she was “camp sick” missing her new friends. For the rest of the summer and even now, she will talk about a camp experience and can’t wait to go back. This summer, she’ll also be joined by her younger sister, who will be a first-time camper.

It would be easy to end my recommendation here and say that Avery had a wonderful time, that the people were great and that her experience was everything that she and we could have hoped for. But it was much more than that. As a child psychologist, it was surprising and gratifying to me to see how much Avery grew developmentally over those two weeks. Her increased comfort with independence and trying new things was noticeable (as were her new table manners!) – it’s something we continue to see today.

Clearwater Camp has been great for our family and we can’t wait to get back there this summer.

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