By MaryAnn Birchler, School Age Child Care Director
Mmmm I want to linger. Mmmm a little longer. Mmmm a little longer with you.
Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.
It’s such a perfect night. Mmmm it doesn’t see quite right.
Mmmm that it should be my last with you. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.
And come September, mmmm, I will remember, mmmm, Matollionequay so true.
Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.
And as the years go by, mmmm, I’ll think of you and sigh, mmmm, this is goodnight but not goodbye.
Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.
I want to linger, mmmm, a little longer, mmmm, a little longer with you.
Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.*
Sunday, June 18, 2000 I left my parents’ house in Tabernacle and drove to YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. I was going to be a counselor at Matollionequay for the summer. I have never been so nervous in my life. I remember driving on Tuckerton Road and having to pull over because I was going to be sick from nerves. I remember pulling up to the Ocky Dining Hall to meet for Staff Training and the overwhelming feeling of I-Made-The-Wrong-Decision swept over me. I remember walking into the Dining Hall and not knowing a single person. I remember being so embarrassed because I forgot my pillow and my dad had to bring it to me. I remember standing at the top of The Bowl, looking down and seeing a really cute lifeguard with blond hair.
After being in Staff Training for a few hours, I started to relax. I was meeting people, making connections and had made Cabin 3 in Cherokee Village at Ocky my home for the week of Staff Training. Fast forward a week and after countless laughs, tears, trainings, dances, and exhausting nights, I was ready for my first check-in for Co-Ed Camp. I had my first set of girls in Cabin 11 in Algonquin at Ocky. Fast forward to the next Sunday and I had my first Matolly girls in Seneca, Cabin 10. And I made it through the summer and it was the best experience of my life…..so far. I never again did get to see that cutie of a lifeguard that week.
So here we are, June of 2001. I was living in Philadelphia getting ready for my senior year at St. Joseph’s University. I was working as a waitress at Bertucci’s and just loving my new apartment, my roommates and being on my own for the summer. About two weeks later, Gabrielle Ostroski called me to see if I would be interested in a Village Chief Position. Two days later I was the Mohawk Village Chief and living in Little House.
Since that summer in Mohawk Village and until today, February 15, 2019, I have had the most amazing life experiences because of Camp. I’ve been the Mohawk and Cherokee Village Chief. In 2002, I started dating that cute lifeguard (who ended up just being at Staff Training in 2000 because he had to head back to school that summer). In 2004, Brent The Cute Lifeguard proposed to me at Chapel Island after sending me on a scavenger hunt all over Camp on Christmas morning. In 2005, Brent and I were married and he also became the Ockanickon Director. I have worked on the Challenge Course. I have lead young teenage girls on the Appalachian Trail and canoed the Delaware River for week-long Ranger(ette!) Trips. In 2006, I became the School’s Out Director. In June of 2009, I met Brent at Chapel Island and told him I was pregnant with our first daughter, Katelyn. Then again in February of 2012, I told him I was pregnant with Anna while we were walking to a meeting in HQ. From 2011 – 2016 I was also the Lake Stockwell Day Camp Director. Our Franky was born in 2017. (We can’t forget about his story!)
Since 2000, I have watched participants in Camp and in School’s Out grow into amazing staff members. I have worked with families and have watched their children completely break out of their shell and blossom from their time at Camp. I have learned from the most amazing children, parents, guardians and co-workers. I have become the person I am today because of Camp. Camp has that effect on people.**
As I sit in my office today, February 15, 2019, I reflect on the millions of memories, experiences, laughs, tears and life lessons that I have gained from living and working at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. (And also from YMCA of the Pines for the last 66 days!) I am so thankful for my husband and children that all happened because of Camp. And finally, after all this rambling and after having to make a very difficult decision within the last few weeks, I have decided to move onto another position outside the Y. BUT! Don’t worry, my girls will still be at School’s Out and Stockwell…hopefully at Matolly in a few years. We’ll still be swimming at Cherokee Beach during the summer. We’ll still be at Family Dinners…as a family! I am eternally grateful for what Camp has given me, so thank you. Thank you all and I will always want to linger a little longer, a little longer with you.
*My all-time-most-favorite Camp song.
**Direct quote from the Best Man at our wedding, Keith Controvich – long time Ocky Camper and Staff.