by Cate Wobbe, Assistant Director, Lake Stockwell Day Camp
When Greg Keresztury, our Director of Operations, told me that I needed to add two new bus routes for Lake Stockwell Day Camp this year, it seemed a daunting task, to say the least. The goal of adding the routes made sense, as we wanted to provide easier access to camp for families throughout Burlington and Camden counties. However, I had no idea where to begin. What towns needed more stops? What if I can’t get buses to camp on time? What locations would make a good bus stops? Where the heck do I start?
Creating these new stops took me on a journey. What I found was how important this task was to making a happy summer for all of the families that we serve. All of my life, I have wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Lake Stockwell makes that happen. Stockwell helps kids all over the state not only make friends and get outdoors, but the day camp experience helps them learn about themselves. It teaches kids to be caring, honest, respectful and responsible – the core values of the Y that are at the heart of everything that we do. It asks them to be courageous and step outside their comfort zone to face any fears they might have.
At times, when the task of finding new bus routes became hard or frustrating, I kept replaying some wisdom that our Boy’s Camp director Matt bestowed on me. “When times get tough, just remember the mission.” I held that advice dear.
The harder I worked to make the new bus routes work out, the more families the busses would be able to reach. The magic that I know happens here at camp could reach families who otherwise might not have the opportunity to experience that camp due to how far their commute would be but for our expanded bus routes. Rather, more kids will be able to learn about themselves and try new things. Kids who normally would spend their summers attached to a screen can now spend it in the great outdoors. They may seem like just buses to some, but this is what summer camp is all about.
So I got myself up early and “tested” the bus routes by driving each route to ensure the drop-off times were accurate, and that each bus would be able to make it to camp quickly, and certainly before the program begins each day. I began my travels at the first stop of each bus route with the goal to not only add two buses to our service, but to streamline the current busses that we had. I wanted families to have more location options where they could drop off and pick up their children. It might be easier for some families to pick up their campers from a location that is closer to their work places. Some may have a school or a business located closer to their homes than the current stop that they were using. The more options that we give families, the easier it will be for them to plan their summer.
I am so excited for this coming summer. The new buses will allow so many more campers to access the magic that I know this summer camp holds, and should help our returning families to have easier access as well. I cannot wait to meet all of the new campers that will come this summer and watch them be bold, be brave, and be themselves this summer. I cannot wait to hear what new challenges they tackled, or to see who their new best friends are. The new campers that are now able to come to our program are going to have access to such a new and exciting experiences. It is going to make all of the early mornings and logistics of starting a bus route worth it. (Go to https://ycamp.org/day-camp-new-jersey/bus-information/ to find out about our bus routes – including the new ones for 2018!)