Camp director shares what he’ll miss after decision to close for 2020 season

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Like the gently rolling waves against the bank of Camp Abnaki’s Lake Champlain shoreline, Camp Director Jon Kuypers’ rhythmic lament washes over.

“I will miss the stories from staff about how they helped campers feel safe, become more comfortable in their own skin, and learn to accept others who are different.”

“I will miss singing retreat with all of camp at the campfire, while facing the lake, and the five seconds of silence as we all contemplate our place in the world.” 

Kuypers and the Board of Directors announced May 28 their decision to close the YMCA-affiliated overnight and day camp, perhaps a first in its almost 120 year history. 

He said it was a hard process but easy decision.

Camp leaders were faced with two questions: Could they ensure safety of campers and staff? Could they replicate the camp experience with modifications to prevent the spread of COVID-19? The answer to both was no.

Kuypers’ written response to the Burlington Free Press included a collection of all the things he’ll miss.

“I will miss the smell of the campfire, the sound of campers splashing in water and the sights of Hobie Cats cruising through the Gut.”

“I will miss Mustache Monday and Wolf Shirt Wednesday.”

Founded in 1901, the boys camp moved to its North Hero location in 1916. It typically serves 170 overnight and 25 day campers — 70% are from Vermont, the rest out-of-staters, including 6% international children.

“I will miss seeing campers walking together through the fields sharing a common experience of games won or games lost.”

“I will miss cabin chats as campers recount their days and share parts of their lives that make them humble and vulnerable.”

Kuypers is optimistic about opening next summer and believes the year will give them time to make modifications. He is concerned we may still be dealing with the effects of the novel coronavirus a year from now.

But, for this summer, there is a lot to be missed.

“I will miss the campfire and candlelight ceremony where campers and staff reflect on their time at camp, their lows and highs, their friends made, and their acceptance into the Abnaki family.”

“And, I will miss the laughter and smiles from campers and staff, knowing that we are all better people because of our time together.”

Contact April Barton at abarton@freepressmedia.com or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.

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