Camp Lawrence provides a home away from home for campers and staff alike
At Camp Lawrence in Porter County, participants share moments in a row boat on Moss Lake at the Catholic Youth Organization's summer camp. The annual camps ran from June 15 to July 26 and featured themes such as 'holidays week.' (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)
By Kaitlin Edquist
When Dorothy was done in the land of Oz and wanted to return to her home in Kansas, all she had to do was click her heels and say, “There’s no place like home.” For months leading up to June 12, I was eagerly counting down the days until my job at Camp Lawrence started, wishing that I could simply click my heels and instantly teleport myself home to camp.
Growing up, Camp Lawrence has been a huge part of my life, and I have loved it since before I can even remember. I first attended as a camper when I was a bright-eyed and energetic seven-year-old in 2004, but my relationship with camp goes back even further. Since I have family who used to live on the grounds as caretakers, and my siblings all camped and worked there as well, I have been fortunate enough to consider camp my second home practically since birth.
During my eight years as a camper, I knew I would want to work there when I grew up, and, from the time I was seven years old, I daydreamed about what my nickname would be and if my future campers would think I’m cool. Now I am headed into my fourth summer as Ducky, and I could not be more thrilled.
I am, without a doubt, happier at Camp Lawrence than I am anywhere else, and it has all to do with where I get to be; what I get to do; and who I get to work alongside. The property is absolutely gorgeous, I have the time of my life as soon as I step inside the gates, and the people there are full of love and acceptance.
I cannot imagine a more perfect place!
Located in Valparaiso, Camp Lawrence is home to 144 acres of beautiful land, woods, and two lakes. Young people, ages 7-14, are able to disconnect from the busy outside world and take time to appreciate nature and make friends. They enjoy traditional summer camp activities of arts and crafts, swimming, sports, and nature, as well as building campfires and living in cabins. It gives the campers an outlet to act goofy and have fun, as well as learn important life and faith lessons in this tranquil setting.
I adored Camp Lawrence as a camper, but if it is possible, I love it even more as a counselor. I get the same feeling I did when I was little, but this time I get to be the reason for the smiles on my campers’ faces. I’ve never experienced anything more rewarding.
Where else can I dress up in crazy costumes nearly every day and celebrate Christmas in the middle of July? Where else can I stand up on a table and belt out a song only to be joined in chorus rather than given weird looks? Most importantly, where else can I hang out with some of the coolest kids on the planet? The campers might think that we staff members are rock stars, but the feeling is mutual.
Before I started working there, looking silly in front of hundreds of people was something I never wanted. Now though, I spend the majority of the year looking forward to the six weeks I get to act like a goofball with my best friends at my favorite place.
Camp is an indescribable feeling that I do not want to live without, and I am nowhere near prepared for the day when I have to say goodbye and get an internship or a “grown up job.” Even after this happens, though, I know that Camp Lawrence will always welcome me back with open arms whenever I want to come and visit, just as it does for our many past employees who like to stop on occasion. Camp is such a special place for so many people, and I am truly blessed to be able to call it home.
I have been clicking my heels like crazy to get to camp, as I am sure many of our campers are doing right now, because there truly is no place like home, and there is no place like Camp Lawrence.
Kaitlin Edquist is a counselor at Camp Lawrence and a member of St. Peter in LaPorte. For more information about Camp Lawrence, go to nwicyo.org.