Last week, I spent a cold afternoon placing colored LED lights in trees with a volunteer and fellow Wildwood staffer, preparing for the first Electric Night Hike. I grumbled. My fingers were numb, and I couldn’t imagine the lights looking good, much less magical.
As the sun went down though, I relaxed. The lights began showing through the trees, a line of green and yellow and red lights lighting up the path around the pond. It was indeed magical.
I stopped for a moment, breathing in chilled November air and gazing skyward. I was amazed how many stars were visible. Twinkling light that had traveled at least eight years to get to me, to camp.
My cold fingers and wind-burnt cheeks didn’t bother me any more. I remembered why this year’s fundraising campaign, Light Up Wildwood, matters.
What do electronic dance music, outlaw country music, and summer camp have in common? They all happen on the same 150 acres we call Wildwood Outdoor Education Center.
In 2019, we embarked on our second year of a contract with a local music festival company, Borda Productions. The company puts on two multi-day music festivals at Wildwood, bringing thousands of visitors to the Wildwood property each year.
The festivals, as you might imagine, are loud and different and, at the beginning of September, sweaty. Festival goers love Wildwood for its natural beauty, great camping areas, and convenient Miami County location.
When you think about summer camp, reading probably doesn’t spring to mind. You probably think about canoeing, fishing, archery, swimming, campfires, and new friends.
But reading has become an integral part of camp at Wildwood. In 2017, thanks to a generous grant from the Harry L. and Helen M. Rust Charitable Foundation at Commerce Bank, we were able to build the Wildwood library and adopt the “Explore 30” Camp Reading Program–a program that encourages everyone (campers and counselors) to read for at least thirty minutes each day.
This summer, I was “Noticed” by a fellow staff member for having a cheery attitude at camp. They handed me a blue rubber bracelet stamped with the words “I AM NOTICED.”
“Hey, I just wanted to give you this because I Noticed your good attitude, and I wanted you to know that it matters.”
“Thanks,” I said, still slightly confused, but grateful.
It had been a long week–the summer heat zapped everyone’s energy, and I had was working hard to keep a smile on my face. So I was tickled to be the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness and noticed for trying.
Although the bracelet didn’t match my style, it stayed on my desk all summer.
When I cleaned off my desk in early September, I wondered what being “Noticed” was all about.
Six times this summer I woke up early to meet the big yellow bus in local grocery store parking lot to load up campers for their journey to Wildwood.
Parents and their campersturn in their final paperwork with camp staff, load duffel bags and pillows into the rear door, give each other big hugs before they spend a week away from each other.
I love seeing the excitement of kids and parents, the slight smell of diesel, the squeak as the bus comes to a stop–it all reminds me of my week at Wildwood as a sixth grader. The excitement of going somewhere far away, on my own.
Last month, right as our first campers were arriving, we finished the build on the new Eagle’s Nest Makerspace. Our Makerspace master (and elementary school teacher), Kyle, spent the month of May and early June planning a fun, bio-inspired curriculum thatmeets next generation science standards for engineering.
But when I tell people that “Wildwood has this new, super-awesome, Makerspace that focuses on bio-inspired designs,” I get blank stares. What in the world is bio-inspired design?