Sky Lake News Archive for May, 2016

Resource of the Week: Homesick and Happy

Resource of the Week: Homesick and Happy

Michael Thompson, PhD, draws upon his experiences as a father, school psychologist, and years of camping to write about something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives: homesickness.

In Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow, Thompson helps parents and camp professionals see the value in helping individuals not only survive this common ailment, but to actually thrive from it. In short, to see homesickness in the bigger picture.

However, don’t let the title fool you—this book is about way more than homesickness. Rather Thompson carefully lays out the benefits of the camp experience for both campers and the parents that remain behind at home.

Look for it at your favorite book shop.
ISBN-13: 978-0-345-52492-8

Posted on May 24th by Matthew Williams

The Power of Letting Go

The Power of Letting Go

We’re currently in that time of year when schools and churches are starting to wind down for summer. But for those of us in the camping ministry, this is when we start to gear up for another awesome season of impacting the lives of young and old, neurotypical and differently abled individuals, first-timers and those who have been coming to camp longer than I’ve been alive! It doesn’t take much arm twisting for me to admit that this is my second-favorite time of year (summer camp season proper is my favorite, of course!)

As we focus on all our preparations, I like to keep one question in the forefront: Why?

At our core, we here at Sky Lake are intentional about providing a safe time and place for individuals to encounter community and God in a magnificent setting because we want to transform the world. Camp ministries have the amazing ability to teach individuals the valuable life skills of independence AND interdependence—not from a textbook but through experience. It still amazes me how much a simple activity like making ice cream from scratch can teach all of us: from coming to a consensus on what flavor to make; to keeping track of who’s next in line to crank; and finally, deciding how much of the finished product each one takes to ensure there’s enough for everyone. (It can also lead to some great discussions on how we ourselves are transformed through Christ.)

Recently when the proverbial “why?” was brought up in planning, we thought: “let’s ask some moms why they send their children to camp.” So a few weeks ago, we posted a link on our Facebook page inviting moms to participate in a quick survey. In that survey, we asked moms* three questions:
1) As a mom, what has been (or what do you anticipate will be) the hardest part about sending your child(ren) to camp for a week?
2) What ultimately helped you to make the decision to send your child(ren) to camp (or not)?
3) What’s one thing we here at Sky Lake can do to help alleviate some of your worries about sending your child(ren) to camp?

We received some great responses from some awesome moms (and I’m not just saying that because my own mom participated!) Reading through the responses the first time may or may not have brought a tear to my eye. Okay, I was moved by the responses of these thoughtful women. It’s always nice when others confirm your own beliefs—particularly when it comes to the power of camp.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be delving deeper into each of these three topics, but for now I wanted to share one specific response an anonymous mom gave to question #2:

“{I send my child to Sky Lake} to learn independence, make friends, and have fun.”

We raise a toasted marshmallow to that!

*Almost all studies of the camping industry conclude that moms ultimately make the decision as to whether a child attends camp or not. Some studies peg this at 85%, while others think it’s actually closer to 95%. So this is why we intentionally sought out moms for this survey.

Posted on May 24th by Matthew Williams

SNAP Program 2016

SNAP Program 2016

Ever wonder what you can do to be a leader at camp?

Every summer Sky Lake runs several weeks of active and meaningful Special Needs programs and we couldn’t do it without our Special Needs Assistant Personnel, or SNAPs, working with us.

SNAPs are older youth volunteers. Still considered as campers, SNAPs work alongside our counselling staff to gain leadership skills, make friendships that last for life, and spend time at camp doing the camp things they love!

This is your personal invitation to join us this summer as a SNAP. We’d love to have you.
What are the requirements to be a SNAP?
SNAPs must be 14 years of age or older and be available for our mandatory training event:
SNAP Training June 11-12 3pm-3pm
SNAPs register for training online just like they would for camp and select “SNAP Program” as their session of choice. Take a look at our online brochure for more information.

How many weeks can a SNAP be at camp?
After training is completed, SNAPs can return to camp for any or all special needs programs we offer during the summer at no additional charge. This summer we have 5 weeks of special needs sessions!

What is it like being a SNAP?
As a SNAP, you’ll spend quality time cruising tables for meals, rowing boats with campers at the waterfront, playing games on the patio, assisting campers on hikes and so much more. In the evenings you will have time to hang out with the other SNAPs and the SNAP Coordinator to do more of what you love about camp such as night time hikes, s’mores, and of course plan the latest SNAP skit for Talent Night.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to email me at


Britny Wainwright
2016 Summer Program Coordinator

Posted on May 24th by Matthew Williams

Thank You Work Day 2016 Volunteers

Thank You Work Day 2016 Volunteers

Register Online Now!(Privacy Statement & Refund Policy)Over 50 volunteers arrived on Saturday, May 7th for Volunteer Work Day 2016 and managed to complete almost all the projects we had on the docket for the day! Thanks to these fantastic volunteers for helping to clear the roofs and undersides of cabins; freshen up flower beds and the trysts; assemble a GaGa Pit; install new towel dispensers; clean out a squirrel’s hoard of pinecones; and most importantly—for the wonderful fellowship!

Posted on May 10th by Matthew Williams

The Legend of Harvey the Hippo

The Legend of Harvey the Hippo

This article originally appeared in Upper New York Advocate, Vol. 8, Issue 2:

The legend of Harvey the Hippo – the unofficial mascot of Sky Lake – began with a song written by a summer staff member, Steve Hulslander, in the early 1970s. From the earliest days, countless campers have taken to this 4,618.5-pound hippo, who, according to the song, manages to consume 200 pounds of food every day.

In the early 2000s, the legend began to take physical shape when the Rev. Joyce Allen came across a delightful stuffed hippo created by her former parishioner at the Worcester UMC, Emma Gaylord, and procured it for Sky Lake. “The moment I saw that hippo, I just knew he belonged at Sky Lake,” said Rev. Allen.

After several years of spending time with campers, going on church visits, and taking part in a number of photo projects, original Harvey began to show some wear and tear. Fortunately, in 2013, the talented Brookye Keeney – who co-leads Creative Arts Week each summer at Sky Lake with her husband, the Rev. Nick Keeney – refurbished original Harvey and created two replicas, ensuring that the legend of Harvey the Hippo will continue to live on for generations to come.

Visit to watch a video created by volunteer and former camper, Greg Milunich, of campers singing “Harvey the Hippo” last summer.

Posted on May 10th by Matthew Williams