During this holiday season, I'd like to take a moment to thank the donors who support our
camp program and our campership fund. Seventy-six children were assisted this past summer
with registration fees to help make camp a summer reality for them. That is approximately
10% of our total camper population. The thank you notes from these children touch my heart;
they are not necessarily flowery or expressive, but straight to the point of what being outside
during the summer playing with other kids means.
One boy, age 9, said that “coming to camp
would allow him to play with other boys his age because all he ever does is play with his
cousins who are ALL girls.” One girl, age 12, said that camp gave her the “chance to do new things, meet new people,
and make lifelong friends like my mom and grandma did when they went to camp.” A note from a mom said, “You
have no idea how much this financial assistance means to my family. Our children love VBYC so much, and the fact
that our financial situation has changed so that camp fees are just not in the budget...well, we just really appreciate that
there are folks out there making this possible for our family.” What a difference you make for these people and their
VBYC has survived and thrived for most of its 60 plus years by the support of businesses, service groups and individuals.
That support has been both financial as well as significant investments of time and talent and tools. Our counselors
and our staff spend most of their waking hours making the program fun, interesting and worthwhile...all with thoughts
of camper safety first and enjoyment second. It was a joy to be a part of this summer. While it seemed like most of my
summer was spent training a new Office Manager (and re-learning with her,) a new Program Director, and a new Volunteer
Coordinator; I found time to relax with campers, staff and counselors and participate in activities whenever I could.
Now that most of the learning has happened, I look forward to spending more time with the children next summer and
taking the VBYC story to the community in new ways.
In early 2014 I will have the honor of participating in the Nonprofit Leadership Academy offered by ONEplace@kpl, a
regional nonprofit management support organization. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about managing
and leading VBYC as well as developing meaningful relationships with other nonprofit leaders in SW Michigan.
Thank you to the VBYC board, staff, volunteers, and campers for your support as I continue to grow in this position.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!
In the Spirit of Camp
Dottie Myers-Hill, Director
VBYC Camper Receives STAR Award
It’s easy to see how Erika Ackerman was named the “STAR Teen
Volunteer of the Year” this year. Volunteerism seems to find Erika rather
than the other way around.
Erika began her volunteer work in the 6th grade
after finding out that she was too old to participate in Vacation Bible
School at her church. So, Erika chose to be a volunteer helper/leader at
VBS in order to stay involved with the group. Around this same time, Van
Buren Youth Camp came into Erika’s life. A friend suggested to Erika
that she attend VBYC. Erika immediately fell in love with Camp. When asked what made her love VBYC, her
response is one we hear a lot ? the immediate feeling of family that grows into a lifetime relationship with VBYC.
Once Erika attended VBYC’s Leadership Camp, she was able to volunteer as a cabin counselor. This past summer
Erika counseled and then had the opportunity to also to be a Staff In Training during Double Discovery Camp.
What’s next on Erika’s agenda? More volunteering with VBYC and her church while completing her senior year at
Mattawan High School. She’ll also be spending time applying for college scholarships. She plans to attend a
smaller college using scholarships so she is able to graduate debt-free, thus allowing Erika more time to volunteer.