Tuesday, November 29, 2016

To the Anokijig Family,
Passing on the flame of Leadership
 Today, it is with mixed emotions we are announcing that after more than 31 years as Executive Director of Camp Anokijig, Jim Scherer is stepping down from that position and passing the torch of leadership to Darin Holden, who has been appointed to the position of Executive Director.

Jim has a rich history with Anokijig that spans more than 60 years, from Camper to Staff Member to Executive Director.  His experience and knowledge of “everything Anokijig” is second to none.  In the years as Executive Director under the YMCA, he maintained the viability and the exemplary standards of Anokijig in the camping community.  When Anokijig went its own way in 2006, he took it from uncertainty to recognition as one of the premier camps in the Midwest.

Darin has been working alongside Jim for many years and we are confident he will do an excellent job as Executive Director.  His experience and dedication to Anokijig has been a valuable asset and we look forward to a long and successful association with him in this new role.  Jim will be staying on for a while in a supporting role to help make a seamless transition and to support the mission of Anokijig in any way he can.

As you know, Jim has never been short on words when it comes to matters of Anokijig.  Because of your long and continued support we thought you might appreciate an advance look at Jim’s message regarding this change that will appear in the upcoming edition of the Anokijig Arrowhead, our alumni newsletter:

Some of you may not know this but I have seen the seasons change at Anokijig as Executive Director since 1985.  I am so grateful to have had this wonderful experience and I can’t imagine anything that could have been better.  It has not always been easy but the rewards that come when serving children outweigh everything else.  Besides, without Anokijig I would not have met my wife and experienced the magnificent joy of being a father to three wonderful girls.  I have truly been blessed.  The time has come for me to step down and hand the reins over to Darin Holden.  I find that so easy to do because we have been together for many years and I know how capable he is.  I have great respect for Darin because he is honest, reliable, and has a moral compass that represents the values of the Anokijig Mission.  I know that Darin will carry on all the positive traditions that we have worked so hard to develop.  He is very talented and understands the value of an Anokijig Experience.  I can’t wait to see what new wonders he will add to the programs and to the magic of this place.  I am fortunate to be able to celebrate with him and hand off this leadership role to someone so deserving.  I’ll be around for a while working to support him and to help in any way that I can to ensure the future of Anokijig.  Thank you everyone for your friendship, support and the many wonderful memories.  As always, sit back, imagine the campfire, and catch the spirit.  Jim Scherer

2016 has been our most successful year ever and we are very excited about this new chapter in the Anokijig story.  Please join us in honoring Jim for all that he has accomplished at Camp Anokijig and in supporting our new leadership into the future.


Peter Anderson, President

Friends of Camp Anokijig, Inc.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What Summer Camp Taught Me by Gillian Hines

Here at Camp we often struggle to find the best way to explain why Anokijig is so important to those involved. We think former camper and Jr. Staff member Gillian Hines hit the nail on the head with her article recently published at theodysseyonline.com.

What Summer Camp Taught Me by Gillian Hines

I went to summer camp for eight years: five as a camper, and three as a counselor. And those weeks I spent at camp over the summer - they were the best times of my life. Not only were they filled with outrageous fun, but they taught me incredibly important life lessons that shaped me as a person. Without my experiences at camp, both as a camper and as a counselor, I wouldn't be who I am today. The people I met and the lessons I learned will stick with me for life, and I am so incredibly thankful. 
Summer camp was the first time I had any sort of freedom or independence as a kid. It was a week away from home, away from my parents. Of course there were camp counselors, a schedule, and in general, people keeping track of me, but really it was my first time making choices completely for myself. I no longer needed to check with my mom before doing something, I just did it.
My summer camp isn't as structured as some camps are. We have long free periods every day - three hours in the afternoon where every "skill area" (read: activity) is open and campers can do what they want. Of course there were still rules and counselors, but campers aren't being told where to go when. They get to choose for themselves.
As a child I definitely noticed and appreciated this new-found freedom, and lessons I learned from it stuck with me. At my camp, we had a song called "On The Loose," and it's a popular campfire song, I bet you've heard it. This song is about being able to choose your own path in life, or at camp. To this day "On The Loose" means a lot to me. As a camper it stuck with me, made me realize that I no longer needed to ask for permission and made me feel grown up. Now, it makes me realize that I am my own person, and I have the freedom to decide who I become. I shape myself, and nobody else can do that for me. Camp taught me that I get to decide who I am, what I do and where I go in life. I don't have to have a plan or follow a set of guidelines. I can just be who I am. As the song goes, "There's a trail that I'll be hiking, just to see where it might go. Many places yet to visit, many people yet to know." Every day, I'm hiking the trail of life and finding out where it takes me. If there's a fork in the path, I choose where I go, nobody else.
With this freedom, of course, comes responsibility. I had to learn to make the most of my time, and not waste it. I started learning this at camp, but admittedly I'm still learning it today - I spend way too much time on Netflix or Tumblr or even just sleeping when I could be being productive or at least enjoying myself with friends.
One of the other things we talked about at camp was "Camper Number Three." There are three types of campers: Camper One gets super involved in one thing, Camper Two tries a little bit of everything. (I'm a Camper Number Two. I always wanted to do everything in camp, and I still do in college. Really, you should see my schedule.) Camper Number Three, on the other hand, wastes their time. They sit around and talk to people, pretty much do nothing, and don't enjoy camp at all - until they realize free period is over. Some people live their lives this way, and camp taught me not to be one of them. I learned from the story of Camper Number Three to live life to the fullest. It doesn't matter if you're a Camper Number One or a Camper Number Two, as long as you're doing something you love, and not waiting around. Our time on earth is limited, and we have to be able to enjoy it.
Being a counselor, of course, taught me a lot of things as well. It made me a part of something, gave me a family and provided a support system that I'll have for the rest of my life. It became a home away from home. It taught me about leadership, responsibility, selflessness and self-improvement, putting my campers first, setting a good example, and also how to row a boat. (It's surprisingly hard. Rowboats are complicated.) But these things pale in comparison to those first lessons I learned as a camper - I need to live my life to the fullest, and do what works for me instead of waiting around and wasting my time doing what other people want me to do. Summer camp taught me to always have outrageous fun, because camp was over way too fast, and life will be too.

Special shout-out to the full-time staff at my summer camp and to all the counselors I had along the way, as a camper and as a staff member. You guys all shaped me as a person and made me who I am today, and I will forever be thankful.

Gillian Hines
Lawrence University '19
Kappa Alpha Theta