Ashleigh Colella and Kelsey Clarke are two very special counselors at camp; collectively known as The Koalas, these two awesome Aussies are returning for their 7th summer from Australia, so right away, we know this will CLEARLY be the best summer ever!!
Good evening Everyone,
If you would have asked us six years ago what we would be doing today, standing in front of you all at Friday Night Services never would have crossed our minds. It was never our plan to be at Towanda for six consecutive years (until we realized it would take us until our fifth year to get a jumper…)
We came our first year looking for a unique sleep-away camp experience. Something we had only ever seen in the movies and wanted to tick off our bucket list… What we left with was something we never expected; a new family and a place on the other side of the world that felt just like home.
Our journey at camp over the last six years has been a constant string of moments we never would have imagined. After swearing we would never survive Upper Camp we now can’t imagine not being the Group Leaders for our Upper Camp girls. We remember walking into the Field House for the first time and reading each of the plaques never imagining someday our names would be up there standing alongside over 90 years of tradition. We never would have thought that so many people would get us mixed up and a name that Mitch called out one day over the microphone would stick (Koala 1 & 1). We never could have imagined the impact one summer would have on us and how in the span of seven short weeks we formed a forever bond with our campers and counsellors.
Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. If you let it, camp provides you with the potential to find your true self. For us, one summer changed our lives in more ways than we ever thought possible and Towanda continues to surprise us…
Over the last six years camp has taught us so many things. The three we are reminded of everyday are; Home isn’t a place it’s a feeling, family isn’t always defined by blood and no matter who you are or where you’re from there is always a place for you at Towanda.
To us Camp is home. It’s the things you never thought you would find comfort in. It’s the sound of guinea hens waking us up in the morning, Mitchell reminding us to wear sunscreen, the smell of cookies from the kitchen, Shower Hour being shower 30 minutes and being part of a never-ending slumber party. It’s all the small things that add up to make Towanda home to so many.
Towanda embodies the true meaning of family. With Towanda by your side you will always have someone encouraging you, supporting you, accepting you and sharing in all your experiences.
The greatest part of our role all camp is seeing campers conquer their fears and push their boundaries. It’s the joy in seeing you get camper of the week, climbing the wall for the first time, making the soccer team or completing the lake challenge. We have multiple proud parent moments every single day.
The best thing about Towanda is it doesn’t matter how silly you dress, what your favorite activity is, what your camp food preferences are or what little quirks you have we celebrate them all and are always willing to work with you to come up with little ways of doing things to help you succeed here as well.
When we first arrived at Camp no one understood us (most still don’t) however we never felt like we needed to change instead we worked out little ways to get our messages across whether it was a list of Aussie to America words on the wall of the bunk or Mitch translating for us over the microphone in the dinning hall and now when we hear our Aussie lingo being used around camp it truly makes our day.
Mitch always says you take a little bit of Towanda with you where ever you go and you don’t realize how true it is until you go home. It’s the feeling you get from a song on the radio that has been featured in FNF, the instant hunger that comes over you when American Pie plays in the shopping center, it’s looking ridiculous using the universal sign for tree whenever a ball comes towards you (it’s not an international sign) and it’s instantly replying ah ohhhh when someone says oh.
Always remember you never know what the future holds and as each summer goes by so quickly remember to take the time to soak it all in because there really isn’t any other place on Earth that can do what camp does for you.
We are so humbled to have been chosen to share this with you all tonight as we are aware of what an honor it is. We want to say thank you to Mitch, Stephanie, Bobby, Amy, Lisa and Michael for all the trust they have put in us over the years and their continued support and guidance.
Finally, we want to thank each and every one of you for making this place what it is and for becoming our extended family.