Shana Johnson shares her 90’s reflections

Shana Johnson shares her 90’s reflections

I invited Shana Johnson to share some of her own Stoney Lake Reflections where she was on staff in the 1990s. She and her boyfriend (now fiance) Dwight visited San Diego last year and we had a chance to sit down for a couple of hours, which was much better than just reuniting on Facebook.

Shana is a firefighter in Cincinnati and I marvel at her chosen profession.  It makes most Facebook updates (and professional pursuits) mundane in comparison.  She is on the front lines of many things from property protection, rescue, medical emergencies or confronting the general ills of society.  A lot happens after midnight and before most of us get up for a new day, and for that I’m thankful there are people out there like Shana.  I have a feeling there is little she has not seen or experienced.  That’s why I thought she would have an interesting perspective and I guessed that her experience at Camp Storer probably set the plate for what she is doing now.

Shana describes herself as ‘Outgoing, loud, extremely open minded, fun personality that loves to do new things and meet new people. Has very strong opinions about the world, but very open to debate’.  What more could I possibly add?  Other than I liked working with Shana and I was lucky to have her on my village staff way back when.


 

I found this quote a long time ago, and it rings so true:

“Telling camp stories to outside-of-camp-friends and realizing

they don’t get them because don’t understand how awesome camp is” – Unknown.

 

My first summer at camp was one of fear, excitement, and so many other emotions. My first cabin was Hudson cabin, my first counselors were Tammy Willis and Jeannie Kirkhope. I could not have asked for a better 2 weeks in my life. Lindsey Hart and I were instant friends, two people from different states that just found something that drew them together. For the next 3 summers, we were always together at camp. I remember sobbing that first summer, begging my parents to leave me at camp, not to take me home. I didn’t want to leave. Little did I know, that feeling would never go away.

                                                            Hudson Cabin…Hidden down a very dark and long path at night!

I have so many memories from being a camper that there is no way that I could write them all down and keep this to a readable length. Sailing, overnights, Green Eyes, Hill 1, Hill 3, trail rides, Mona, the endless sky full of stars while lying on the ground with Amy Rymer, my last counselor as a camper, out at the Ranch. I remember being “kidnapped” for a 5th year ceremony, and hearing Bimbola’s laughter….the rest shall remain a secret, as it always should. I would go on to become a CIT, and then I got the chance to become staff. Finding out I had been hired as a counselor, was probably the most exciting part of my life at that point.

My years on staff, as a North Center counselor, were truly some of the most amazing days of my life. I returned to Hudson cabin as a counselor that very first year. I couldn’t believe it, I was a counselor in the first cabin I had ever been in as a camper. I then went on to Appleseed Cabin, where I made a lifelong friend in Ericka Kieffer. Time and distance may have separated us, but the friendship has lasted a lifetime. The chocolate frosting fight, the late night sitting on the North Center Tower just talking and staring at the sky, the sudden voice of Bimbola and “you best be getting back to your cabin”…I think we heard that more than once a session. I had wonderful directors, wonderful people to work with. Probably the most hilarious summer was when Dustin Smith was the Explorer Director. I think that entire summer was consumed with laughter and just endless days and nights of fun.

 

I did so much growing up at camp. I was responsible for ensuring that 12 kids had the best times of their lives while living in a small cabin with them for 2 weeks, and would repeat this for 3 summers in a row. Camp is where I learned that pushing boundaries, facing fears, trying new things, and finding my true self was totally acceptable, and I hope that somewhere out there, there is a camper that I helped achieve that.

Camp gave you permission to be weird, to be crazy, to be loved for who you were in a time when you really didn’t have a clue. People didn’t judge you for wearing a toga to lunch, or singing at the top of your lungs “Your mama don’t wear no socks, a ding dong”. Hearing “How dooooooooo yoooooouuuuuu feeeeeel” at the beginning of meal in the North Center Dining Hall…or standing in the morning dew wearing shorts, Tevas, a shirt that might have been washed that session, your hair crazy under a rag, and hoping that you didn’t have to lead chapel that morning because if you did, you had about 3 minutes to think of something. Staff meetings, where we got to vent, and we got to plan crazy events, and just take 10 minutes to be alone.

 

 

I have taken the “I’m Third” motto and tried to incorporate it into my adult life. I love my chosen profession; I feel that being a firefighter gives me the chance to put God first, others second and myself third. I believe that the fears I was able to face at camp, and the boundaries I pushed have given me the strength to do a job that not many women want to do, and that requires a strength that you dig deep for, and a faith that no matter what, God has your back. The friendships I made at camp, the trust I had in all of the people that I worked with, has come full circle in the brothers I have at work. We trust each other with our lives, we laugh and joke, and we are a big family….so much like camp. The friends I have from camp will always be like family to me. Not many can understand the connection we have through Storer, just like many cannot understand the connection I have to my fellow firefighters.

 

The chorus to the song we sang at so many closing camp fires I think is where I will end this story. Storer’s light will always shine in my heart, and it’s the people that love that place that continue to make it shine. No matter the distance, no matter the obstacles that life throws at us, we will always be able to smile remembering the friends we have made, and those friends are the forever kind.

“And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends”

 

 

 

 

 

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Storer's 100th CelebrationJune 30, 2018
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