Camp Winona 2015

It's taken me a while to work up the courage to post about my adventures at Camp Winona this year; a lot of personal events occurred, and now my memories of this magical place are bitter sweet. I will miss this haven dearly, but I know I shall never return. Even writing this, I have a lump developing in my throat...

Camp Winona is a place where dreams come true; these girls literally grew up before my eyes, from cheeky little brownies to beautiful young women. I met people from every corner of this glorious earth, and now my best friends are spread across the oceans. It is by far the hardest job I have ever had, and also by far the absolute most rewarding adventure I have ever endeavoured.

I ended up leaving camp early this year, for multiple reasons. I still know it was the right decision, and I don't regret a single thing that happened. I spent four of the most amazing summers of my life here, and it will always be one of my favourite places on earth. Since I left early, there aren't too many images or stories to share, but I hope you enjoy what I could provide below:

camp winona teepee valley

Teepee Valley grew every year. When I first started, there weren't enough teepees for the counsellors, so we slept in a tent, and there wasn't a clearing so we were up by the health centre. This year I got to enjoy the valley in it's full glory in the middle of the woods. It was certainly an experience, but I did get more sleep than I thought I would!

camp winona hammock village

The original Hammock Village location got cleared out, but this year's spot was so much more relaxing, down by a stream and far from reality. I often went down there to hide from the world.

camp winona mud pit

The mud pit was as amazing as ever, if not better! Watching both children and adults a like forget all inhibitions and cover themselves head to toe in foul smelling muck is something I will never forget. The squeals of delight yet pure terror, the manic laughter, the beaming smiles, all magical.

camp winona water slide

This year, the slip and slide got a little destroyed (by a little, I mean someone's leg went through a little hole and ripped a ridiculously huge hole, and they almost tore themselves in half... but don't worry, they're ok!) It still served relief from the crazy temperatures we had to endure, and the children enjoyed nothing more than all going down together and dragging me with them...

camp winona balloon paint arena

The Balloon Paint Arena was always an adventure in itself - I never, I repeat NEVER, got out of there clean. My camera would wear the brunt of the paint, something I'll carry with me always (mostly due to the fact I can't get it out...)

camp winona pool

Ahh Brook's Pool... Where children would pile themselves on top of you, chase you with water guns, pretty much attack you in any way, shape or form... Our saviour from the heat and humidity, and entertainment for hours on end.

camp winona bearded dragon

We didn't have too many animals this year. This bearded dragon who's name I can't remember was definitely the crowd favourtie!

camp winona making slime

Who knew two ingredients would entertain children for hours on end?! It was either baking powder or soda (I forget) and water, and it made "goo" - a half solid, half liquid substance the kids absolutely adored.

camp winona fake snow

One of my favourite ever science experiments was making fake snow! You just add water and it looks and feels just like snow, and to re-use it, you just let it dry out then add more water!

camp winona poi

Having other New Zealanders at camp was always the little taste of home I needed when I was missing my family and friends. Teaching the girls how to make poi then teaching them simple movements was such a fun way to show them different parts of the world.

(Side note - one little girl, Grace, had been coming to camp since she was a brownie, and I looked after her in her first year. I taught her a song I used to sing when I was her age, and four years on, she still knows the words off by heart. I had no idea she was at a campsite when I walked up, and I heard her singing straight away. It absolutely melted my heart)

camp winona arts and crafts

Now this image is funny on different levels - I found this craft on Pinterest and suggested it to the Arts and Crafts specialists. They obviously loved it and taught the girls! They paint their own terracotta pots, then line the pots with foil and burn coals in them for their own mini fires to melt marshmallows!

camp winona mermarie rock

This year, the director Goof (Jenn) got these rocks punched in the shape of a mermarie (a mermaid fairy that's folklore at Camp Winona) and dispersed the rocks all over camp! It was a crazy scavenger hunt trying to find them! (I never ended up finding one...)

camp winona woodland mural

The Art Smart girls spent hours upon hours painting murals all over the camp - the pool house, the basement, the health centre, and even in the woods. They did an absolutely amazing job!

camp winona mud pit

This is one of the last images I took this year. The last mud pit I ever watched the girls enjoy. The end of one adventure, and the beginning of another.

I will always love Camp Winona. I'm not angry about what happened. Everything happens for a reason, and I know I am a better person now because of what I went through.

"People in cities don't understand; falling in love with the land"

camp winona sunset