There once was a mythical moose who lived on a wooded peninsula in southern Michigan. He found delight in the sounds of children relishing in the joy of camp. After many years, the woods fell silent of that laughter and were left to the chirps of birds, croaks of frogs, call of cicadas, crickets and katydids. Even though he was in his own environment, Moose felt alone, isolated and lost. That was until North Star Reach, a camp for children with serious illnesses and their families, grew from the ground up and returned the joy of summer camp to the wooded peninsula.
When I came to North Star Reach in the spring of 2011, the woods were quiet. On a walk one day, thinking about how we wanted to design our camp, I came across Moose and he shared his incredible story with me. It inspired me to want to create a remarkable place where those who came "home" to North Star Reach, would feel a sense of belonging, community and connectedness that would forever impact their lives. Thanks to an incredible group of people, foundations and corporations, on July 1, 2016, the dream of this place became a reality for thousands of children, families, volunteers, staff and... a moose. That feeling of "belonging" and "home" would quickly become known as “mooseness.” Something difficult to describe but unquestionably real. Something rare to find, but in abundant supply once you have found it. Something that is uniquely North Star Reach.
This year celebrates our fifth summer of providing life-changing programming at North Star Reach. While the mooseness is the same, everything else has changed. The woods will fall quiet again as a result of COVID-19. In prioritizing the health and safety of our campers, families and volunteers, we have suspended our on-site programming in favor of reinventing what connectedness through camp can be. Unfortunately, this is a story that is all too familiar to our campers and families with having something taken away because of an illness. Many of us now understand exactly what this feels like, because COVID-19 has taken away classes, daycare, playdates, proms, graduations, vacations, restaurants, sports, jobs and even loved ones.
Last summer, our theme was Camp Different (click for a cool video), inspired by the late 90's Apple advertising campaign. IBM told people to Think. Apple wanted people to “Think different.” At North Star Reach, we don't camp, we are inspired to “camp different” and this summer will require the same type of different thinking that Steve Jobs used to change the world, at least as far as technology goes.
Your donation will ensure that “camp different” can continue to happen this summer and beyond the days when states lift stay-at-home orders. This pandemic may change many things in our everyday lives, but not camp. Camp will continue to be a place where kids who often feel alone, isolated, and lost--even when in their own environment--can find a place of belonging, community and connectedness that we call home. Just like a moose I know.
But wait, there’s more. If I double my goal of $2500, I have pledged to go a little old school and bleach my hair blonde, just like it was in the late 90’s. Radical! Checkout the photo for a preview.