Abrielle was just five years old in the summer of 2014. Her mother Veronica, who works in TrueNorth’s Center for Nonprofit Housing, was looking for potential daycare options when aco-worker suggested Camp Newaygo’s co-ed day camps. TrueNorth owns and operates Camp Newaygo, making Veronica eligible for the discounted “local resident” rate and her decision was made.
Abrielle was very excited, but her mom was a little nervous as this would be the first time she had spent any length of time away from family, other than for school. There were eight weeks of day camp, each with separate themes: What’s Cookin’, Circus Camp, Adventures in Space, Medieval Kingdom, Arts Around Us, Superhero Training, Mad Science (her favorite), and Wild About Animals. Additionally, each week offered an optional overnight from Thursday to Friday. As the summer went on and Abrielle became more and more independent, she asked if she could take part in the overnights, which would be her first time ever spending a night away from her parents. They agreed and she handled it like a pro, spending three nights at Camp, and one at John Ball Zoo during the Wild About Animals week.
Over the course of the summer, Veronica noticed discernable changes in her daughter, watching her grow up before her eyes. Because Camp Newaygo believes all girls should have a safe place to help them grow into their best self, they offered Abrielle the opportunity to find and build confidence within. She learned to love archery and canoeing, became a better swimmer, and learned to build a campfire. Veronica was so impressed with her daughter’s tech-free summer camp experience, she wrote this note to the Camp Newaygo staff:
“This summer was life changing for Abrielle. With your rock star staff, she was stretched, challenged, encouraged, and believed in. She has truly transformed before my eyes into a strong, independent girl who found an inner voice and spirit. She truly became her best self. Thank you!”
Abrielle’s story is echoed by countless girls, year after year, who find out what they’re made of and who they really are at Camp Newaygo.