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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Holidays from YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

Winter is definitely evident at YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea with the cold temperatures and snow.  Just in time to get us in the holiday spirit!  If you're in the Poughkeepsie area on Saturday (and are looking for that holiday spirit), please stop by Barnes & Noble Books in Poughkeepsie on Route 9 on Saturday the 21st.  We'll be gift wrapping presents all day with the proceeds of donations going towards scholarships helping to send kids to camp next summer.  We'll be there all day, so please stop by and say Hi!

It is with deep sadness that we hear of the passing of a beloved member of our camp family, John "Jack" Hedberg.  Jack was 89 and recently passed away in Colorado.  He was connected to camp through Al Raymond and William Dick and IBM.  He spent a great deal of time at camp on Work Weekends.  Current Smith Park of New York Chairman, John Fisher called Jack a pretty amazing and "old school kind of guy".  "At the age of 75, Jack would still out work most of us on those work weekends!"  

We all have fond memories of Jack, including Smith Park Board member Jeff Raymond (son of Al Raymond) who said "I saw this guy, this 70 year old guy, get his chainsaw out and cut up a giant oak tree that had fallen at camp.  He then took it upon himself to stack the wood in the back of the truck and then move on to the next task, whatever it may have been."  Past Chairman of Smith Park of NY, John Dunn, added Jack's work ethic was to be admired.  "Jack was an old camp committee guy, and he never failed to surprise a lot of younger folks simply by working hard."

Jack (on left) in Hart Lodge with Stuart Griffin.

For those interested, visitation will be at Parmele, Auchmoody & Schoonmaker Funeral Home at 110 Fulton Ave. in Poughkeepsie, NY on Wednesday December 18th from 5 to 7 PM. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, December 19 at 11 am from Freedom Plains Presbyterian Church, Route 55 and Stringham Rd., LaGrangeville.

We want to finish by wishing you all the joys of the season and every happiness throughout the coming year.  In the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. 

May the closeness of friends and the comfort of home (and camp!), renew your spirits this holiday season!

Monday, November 18, 2013

An International view of YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

Just as it has been the past couple of years, we've already had our first snowfall of the season here at camp!  It was just a dusting, but indeed it was a sign that winter and the holidays are quickly approaching.   We have a couple of events to let you know about coming up during this holiday season.

The first is the "First YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea Summer 2013 reunion"!  It's taking place December 8th from 1-3pm at the Winsted CT YMCA.  Bring your bathing suit and a towel as it's an afternoon of fun at the Winsted pool.  Here's the flyer-

The second is an annual fundraiser for camp and that's Wa Wa Giftwrapping!  It's taking place all day on December 21st at Barnes and Noble, 2518 South Road in Poughkeepsie, NY.  Stop by and pickup those last minute Christmas presents and get them gift wrapped by volunteers for Camp!  All money raised will go towards scholarships for kids to go to camp.

International camp counsellors are not new to Camp Wa Wa Segowea.  We have had many counsellors through the years from foreign lands such as Scotland, Denmark, Germany, China, England and others and 2013 was no different.  We were lucky to hire two wonderful counsellors from England,  Emma Dryden and Mike Williams, who were mentioned in a previous blog post. ( 

                             Here's the two of them participating in the Camp Olympics!

Emma shared with us her take on being a Camp counsellor at Wa Wa and spending her first summer in the U.S. and in turn, we're happy and proud to share it with you.   Thank you Emma!

Lucky Charms, flag raising and summer camp itself were all foreign to me at the beginning of this summer. I had never done a friendship circle before; I didn’t know the words to any campfire songs and what on earth was a s’more?! As a 19 year old British girl, to say I was out of my depth would be an understatement, but over nine weeks, Camp Wa Wa Segowea and it’s traditions became almost second nature to me.

Back in March, when I first got the job, I was not at all prepared for what summer 2013 had in store for me. I was promised ‘the summer of my life’ and a ‘life-changing experience’ but in reality, I just thought spending the summer in America would be a nice way to spend three months! Little did I know that I would have the summer of my life, a life-changing experience and memories that will last a lifetime.

I arrived at camp on a rather chilly June day, feeling apprehensive about what was to follow in the next few weeks. Camp Wa Wa’s quirky features were a shock to me- no glass in the windows, no locks on the cabins and, without being full of campers, Smith Lodge looked a little spooky to me! But I was reassured by the friendly faces of the soon-to-be friends that greeted me and made me feel at home.

Before 50+ kids were unleashed upon us in just the first session, we had to undergo some intense staff training, including, for some of us, lifeguard training, which was tough in the surprisingly cold conditions we had in June! By the end of the two weeks of training and setting up camp, having bonded as a staff team, we felt as ready as possible for camp to begin. Although, I was rather daunted at the idea of being responsible for so many people’s children, I knew I had the best support network from my fellow counsellors, camp volunteers and my friends and family back at home.

The following seven weeks, were full of fun, laughter, s’mores and campfire songs. I learned that: knockout is a very addictive game, Americans have an addiction to hot sauce, it’s difficult, but not impossible, to get children to participate in swim class on a cold day, receiving a friendship bracelet is like receiving a medal, wearing socks with flip flops is ok, girls can’t get enough of ‘spa day’,  finding a bear in the dumpster is a regular occurrence, the end of session dance is the most anticipated event of the year for an eleven year old girl, and that nothing is more precious than an extended rest hour. 

However, amongst the days of rope swinging, water trampolining, sailing, swimming and archery, the true essence of camp became apparent to me during the fortnightly Camp Olympics- sportsmanship, teamwork and enthusiasm bubbled out of every child and staff member, and seeing a camper congratulate their opponent after the swim across the lake or cheer on the determined last pair of the three-legged race, made me so proud and honoured to be involved with such amazing children at a camp, which encourages participation and respect for others. On these days, being a camp counsellor was the most enjoyable and rewarding job I could think of.

Not only did my role as camp counsellor involve looking after a cabin of excitable eleven year old girls; who allowed me to be the One Direction-loving, girly-girl that I am, I was also required to teach swimming, boating and sailing. The latter was my absolute favourite to teach.  Every day I spent my afternoons on the beautiful Harmon Pond helping improve a small group of campers sailing skills as well as having a lot of fun. Yes it was sometimes difficult to coerce the older girls to swim out to their boats on some of the cooler days of the summer, but I hope that they thought it was worth it! My lessons didn’t always go to plan but one of the activities that popped up very frequently was a game invented between myself and a keen camper: Pirates. Rules were invented along the way, developing the game into a very complex one, but let’s just say that all my sailors were very confident at righting a capsized boat by the end of the summer! I found my role as an instructor very rewarding, watching my campers skills improve and see them having fun along the way.

That’s not to say being a camp counsellor is a breeze, as at times it was far from being the laid-back summer job, which I naively thought it would be when I first applied!  Being a counsellor is a 24/7 job (despite what it says in the contract!) and exhaustion, stress and homesickness definitely set in at times for me: when my skills classes didn’t go quite to plan, when the weather turned cold or when one of my campers had severe homesickness, and nothing I said or did could make them feel any better; that’s when I started to doubt my ability as a counsellor and as a role model. I can honestly say that if it weren’t for the support, encouragement and generosity from my fellow counsellors and senior staff, the outlet they gave me to let it all out and have fun, I wouldn’t have made it through the summer. The friendships and relationships I built this summer are some of the strongest and best ones I’ve ever had and I will treasure them forever.

Camp Wa Wa Segowea- I could hardly say the name at the beginning of summer and yet now it has become like a second home within a matter of weeks, and a place, which I am determined to make part of my life for many years to come. Wa Wa is a small, humble camp. It doesn’t boast state of the art facilities, offer hundreds of different activities, it doesn’t even have mobile phone reception! But one of the many things I learned this summer was that expensive equipment and fancy facilities aren’t needed in order to engage children in developing their confidence, character and skills. 

Camp is like Disneyland: a community away from the real world, which gives children and adults alike, the space to be themselves, learn something new and have the best summer ever!

Emma is now in her first year of attending University in England.  She's very busy, studying hard and hopes to be able to return to Wa Wa for the summer of 2014!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's peak autumn at YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

It's been a quiet fall here at Camp Wa Wa Segowea.  The summer is behind us, the work weekends have been held and we're anxiously anticipating the summer of 2014!  Speaking of next summer, the dates are already posted for your early planning of next year.  There will be two 1 week sessions at the beginning and at the end of the summer and three two week sessions in between.  Check out the camp website for all the info.  It has been a great autumn for leaves changing colors at camp, so here's some various shots around camp.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September at YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

It's September at camp and that means a few different things!  The campers are gone, but their presence is still felt in the air.  The board games are still out in the lodge, the docks are still in the water (for just a little while longer) and you can still imagine hearing a very busy dining hall at lunchtime.   But the overall quietness of the place is hard to get used too!  It has been busy for a couple days though, with a YMCA Day and then a Smith Park Board meeting happening in late August and early September.  There will be some noise here this coming weekend, as it's our first work weekend!

Yes, this Saturday and Sunday, we'll be working on several projects around camp.  The main project is working on the Property Director's (Rhet Amos) home, otherwise known as Page Lodge.  That alone is a big project and we'll probably still be working on it at the next work weekend in October (12-13th).  But we're looking for a good amount to be completed this weekend.  So if you have some time, please consider coming on up and lending a hand.  There'll be some down time of course to enjoy a boat ride or a game of ping pong.  We'll be serving meals- lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.  You can RSVP to or visit the Facebook page for the event and sign up there.  If you can't make this one, but can make it in October, please let us know too!  

In the past, we have invited you to be a part of the many events at camp, to tell us what camp means to you and participate in activities surrounding camp.  We now are asking you do something directly that involves one of our camp community.  

David "Skip" Falk was our Camp director for a few years back in the early 1970's.  He was a young director at the time (22 years old), and he lived and breathed Wa Wa Segowea.  in 2010, Skip told a few camp stories which you can see and hear on videos on youtube-  He continues to support Wa Wa financially to this day.

Skip at this time, resides in Texas (with his wife Brendia) and has been battling cancer for the past 4 years. I'm sure he would love to hear from any and all members of the Segowea community. We're asking you to send a simple card, letter or even a postcard saying hello, maybe wishing him well, perhaps sharing a camp story, all would certainly make his day.  His address is  2010 Baron Sky Lane, Richmond TX 77469         

Please feel free to share this with your other friends and family as well.  His memories of camp are very precious to him and he truly loved camp. In his words- "The physical beauty of the place, the isolation, just bringing a group of people potentially who were strangers into a group who weren't strangers and the acceptance of each other. It was a really unique time period for a 22 year old! " Thank you! 

In the dining hall at camp, you see a few plaques honoring important people in camp's history.  Right in the middle is one for Frank O'Van Ness, who was the first camp director and was from 1910 to 1940.  Recently, his granddaughter, Carol Bradford made the trek out to camp for the first time in 70 years!  She and her husband, Bob, paid us a visit (coming all the way from Pennsylvania!)  on September 7th.  They were nice enough to pose for a picture and at the same time, brought a picture of her granddad, that we hadn't seen before!  She also mentioned her dad was involved in camp as a chaplain back in the 1940's.  She stayed for a little while reminiscing on the front porch of the lodge and made a nice donation to the camp endowment.  Thanks Carol and Bob! And come back soon!

Lastly, we've collaborated with a company called Picaboo Yearbooks on bringing you two different books on camp.  The first is filled with pictures from this summer. It's a 20 page yearbook and is chalk-full of memories to last a lifetime.  Relive the fun times, recall the friendships, and remember the counselors who made your campers’ summer magical. Reserve your copy of the 2013 YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea yearbook.  Visit the link to place your order now!

The second book is is a specially made Camp History book!   YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea is proud to announce that as part of our centenary celebrations, we are creating a 60 page, high-quality history book that will chronicle the Camp’s journey over the last century.   Visit the link to place your order now!

Thanks and we'll see you at camp!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Session 4 2013 at YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

Sadly, the summer season of 2013 is complete!  But we sure had a great summer!  Here's a look at Session 4 in pictures-

Can't wait for the slip-n-slide!      



Learning sign language.


 A trip to Umpachene Falls!

Last campfire of the season!

Camp Director, Josh starting the candlelight ceremony.

Thanks to all for a great summer!  And we'll see you at camp!