Karyn Schutzer is the head of Outdoor Adventure at Camp Towanda. She shared these thoughts with us last summer. We look forward to her return for her 5th summer in 2018!
Good evening and Shabbat Shalom.
I am honored and excited to be given the opportunity to speak to you all and explain why camp is such an important part of my life. I started camp 19 years ago in the summer of 1999, yes way before many of you were born. My camp life did not start here at Towanda but another sleep away camp in the Catskill Mountains in NY. I was 8 years old, wearing a backwards baseball hat, absolutely terrified stepping off the bus for the first time. Was I going to make any friends? Was I going to like my counselors? Was I going to fit in? 15 years later I had the same emotions going through me. I was now much older, no longer needed my baseball hat, but I was just as nervous on my first day coming to Camp Towanda. Was I going to make friends? Was I going to be able to perform my best at O&A? Was I going to fit in? I felt as though I already had a summer home, how could some new place ever replace those feelings? And I’ll be honest my first couple weeks here I was not sure I was going to make it. I cried nearly every night of orientation and thought “what have I gotten myself into?”. I had to think back to my first summer at camp and I realized that growing up at camp gave me a lot of skills which I could now put into practice; skills such as independence, resilience, strength, and the ability to adapt to any environment. So little by little things started to change. I allowed myself to start embracing the Towanda way of life. This was not easy and it took time. After my first summer here ended I had doubts whether I wanted to come back for a second summer. Looking back, the decision to return was the best I could have ever made. If I didn’t come back I would have missed out on meeting so many amazing campers, counselors, and staff members.
Now, I cannot imagine being anywhere but Towanda during the summer. Once I embraced the Towanda way of life, I realized that this was always meant to be my summer home. You all are my family and I could not even imagine where I would be had I not found my true summer home. Campers and counselors please embrace, enjoy, and cherish every minute of this special place. I can tell you the memories you have from camp will be some of the greatest memories you will ever have. There isn’t anyone outside of here that can understand what is so exciting about an 8:30 reveille, dancing like nobody is watching while in the field house, or the feeling you get putting your arms around your best friends while singing the camp songs. These are memories you will reminisce about for a lifetime. The people sitting next to you will always hold a place in your heart as I know you all have found a place in mine. Thank you to everyone sitting here today. Towanda is only a physical place. It is all of you sitting in front of me right now who make it feel like a home.
And finally Mitch and Stephanie. Thank you for allowing me to find my true summer home here at Camp Towanda. These past 4 summers have really helped shape my adult life and I am truly appreciative of the opportunity to be your O&A director.
Thank you and Shabbat Shalom.