MICHIGAMME, Mich. (WJMN) – Summertime means going to sleepaway camp for many kids, and one organization in the Upper Peninsula is celebrating 20 years of providing a week of fun for kids who may not have the opportunity to do so.
Camp New Day U.P. is a free one-week camp for youth ages 9-14 who have or have had, a parent or family member in prison or jail. From swimming, boating, and campfires, Camp New Day has it all.
“This camp, there’s a lot of focus on being together, coming together. Everyone here has a similar story. It’s really good to, you know, bring them here and let them be kids again. That’s what it’s all about,” said Camp Counselor Lewis Goff.
For camp counselors like Goff and Tommy List, the kids are what keeps them coming back every year.
“My favorite part about the job is interacting and making connections with these kids. A lot of times they don’t get an opportunity to meet a lot of different people around here. It’s just great that we get to come from all around the U.P. and even downstate to interact,” said List.
14-year-old Noah has been coming to Camp New Day for three years, and this year is his last.
“One thing that I’ve learned is that no matter what, you always got to be happy, and if you’re shy just go out and meet new friends. When I first came here I didn’t like talking to new people, here I am third year and I have a bunch of new friends.”
For campers and staff, it’s about the relationships and bonds created with one another all while having fun.
“The most rewarding part of my job, we have a lot of kids that come in with a hood on,” said Meghan Erickson, board president and camp director. “They don’t want to be here, they may not understand why they are here. But when they come here, today is Wednesday and we call it ‘Miracle Wednesday’ the kids will, the hoods come off. I could cry about it because it’s amazing. They actually smile, they’re happy, they don’t want to leave. It’s just amazing to see the kids grow in this one week.”
The board is made up of volunteers and the camp relies on donations and grants to operate. To learn more about Camp New Day U.P. or to donate, click here.