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”

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 6 -Jim & Judy Mohr


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Stoney Lake Reflections Show Notes

Episode: 06 Jim & Judy Mohr


What I have to say:

Jim & Judy were very much parental figures for me and countless others.  Their roles as ‘in loco parentis’ were not cemented because of their age in relation to younger staff, but with their stage in life, Storer experiences, and willingness not to only support campers, but support the staff.  It was a knowing look, a reassuring glance, a quick chat during some long days that helpred many of us to dig a little deeper to make the Storer magic happen.  They were a couple who had seen it all at camp, who were once in our shoes.  With their experience came great wisdom and calm, almost silent leadership for us ‘young kids’ on staff.  It was quite wonderous in the 1990s to have Jim & Judy as true examples of what we were there for.  It was amazing to think, we were fortunate enough to work along side with these two ‘legends’ who preceded us (at that time) by a few decades.   It was such a solid example of respecting what had come before us, it gave many of us a phenominal touchstone to the past and present with hope for the future.  And when it came for final campfires, Judy & Jim gaves us a great dose of the historical and traditional import of the procedings.  On our tough days, they gave us strength.  On great days they contributed (sometime caused) and shared in the laughter.


Show Notes:

Part III Mohr’s

  • Judy reflects on lessons learned
  • Judy also details her work on many campership committees that send kids from all backgrounds to camps throughout Michigan, including YMCA Storer Camps.
  • What it was like raising a family at camp
  • Directing the Girl’s camp was a big challenge, but they both worked together and that worked out very well
  • What it was like at Girl’s camp
  • Challenging times on trips and as a kitchen girl- great fun and hard work.
  • Land management is a modern day challenge
  • Jim Mohr dressed as a daffodil
  • Father Nature, Opera star!

 

 

‘Lands for Learning Project’  Prescribed burn on North Side of Stony Lake

 

Episode: 05 Jim & Judy Mohr


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 Editor’s Note: There were some great challenges with audio quality on this episode…apologies in advance!

Show Notes

Episode: 05 Jim & Judy Mohr

In this second episode I spoke with Jim ‘Father Nature’ about the natural environment at camp and what makes it special.

  • Jim details the diverse and unique ecosystems found at camp, some of them that are rare globally. Examples of varied ecosystem on nearly 1400 acres. Boasting 17 different types of soil lead to such a diverse environment. From fens, sedge meadow, rich Tamarack forest (almost gone) wet meadow to Black Oak barrens to Savannah.

 

  • South Fen is Jim’s favorite place at camp since it is such a unique blend of plants and every time he visits he seems something new. And this is after viewing it for 57 years!  What is a Fen? 

 

  • The benefits of prescribed burns are discussed as well as clearing buckthorn swamp giving way to new growth after the invasive species were addressed.

 

  • Jim outlines unique flora and fauna, in and around Lake Stony…Including jellyfish…Yes, jellyfish! 7 out of the state’s nine species of turtles. Stony also boasts 15-20 species of fish.

 

  • The three areas of Stony: Big, Little & Petite. Formed from glacial waters. Reportedly it boasts some of the cleanest lake water in Michigan. Camp has been noted to have what scientists call ‘extensive undisturbed wetlands’. Jim discusses how to preserve this resource.

 

 

  • Jim details the rich history of naturalists at Camp. When Rodney Ferrar left the position, Jim stepped in around ’64 –‘93

 

  • Jim shares the history of the famous naturalist and ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson’s time at Storer (please see RTP Combined files from Doc Miller and the first naturalist offering Roger Tory Peterson a position at camp.  These feature phenominal historical documents from the archives!

 

  • The history of Cubbage Trail and how this was originally on Jim’s dad’s property (came to camp through Hyatt Purchase in the 1930s)

 

Jim drives the bus for a Long-termer Trip!

 

Jim takes well deserved break from said Long-Termers!

 

 

Stoney Lake Reflections- The Road Show

Greetings from Boston! After experiencing a lot of February and early March winter weather, I’m ready to return to San Diego. Tomorrow I’ll be wearing shorts on principle! 🌴

My Trip

As many of you know, for the past two weeks I undertook a SLR Podcast road show of sorts (on top of visiting family). This trip has been magical and filled with serendipitous events. 🌈  My journey started from San Diego to Detroit and Idrove up to camp via Ann Arbor (Trader Joe’s) then drove the ‘back way’ through country roads and very heavy fog.  It was the perfect night for a Mona sighting or perhaps even Green Eyes.  Luckily neither showed their faces on this drive around the lake.  When I arrived on the east side of the lake it was raining sideways and the wind was impressive.  On a night like that, even a katyak would be responsive!

 

I stayed at Camp the folowing few days interviewing many within view of Ol’ Stoney.  You will soon hear those podcasts and be treated to many stories in the blog…More to Come!

Some of my amazing guests:

 

Dan Wymer

                 Tom Brown

                                Bill Sonnett

                                           Pam & Jerry Sine

                                                        Judy & Bryce Harbaugh

                                                                     Abimbola Fajobi

                                                                                  Don Klotz

                                                                                       Emerson Maniac

 


Hey wait- Where’s the new episode?

Being an army of one on this project is a blessing and a curse. The great thing is being nimble. The negative is when schedules get crunched, there’s little production time wiggle-room. If this was a for profit venture it would be different. But as a volunteer, unpaid endeavor, there is only so much time. (I don’t get paid by Camp Storer or the YMCA…and to be clear, I Don’t make any money on this either)!

Due to technical difficulties (discovered on the road)    I felt that the episode to be published had audio quality issues that did not reflect my standards.

Perhaps many would not notice, but I did ! Suffice to say, I’m learning a lot along the way. I will post those new episodes ASAP.


Snapshot: 2 Week Odyssey
❄️✈️🌦🚙☀️🐎☁️

As my two two week trip winds down: 5,300 miles flown, 9 interviews recorded, 9 states visited, 2 rental cars, guessing 1,300 miles driven(?) and 2 nor’easters. Tons of gorgeous souls along the way and quality family time.

Looking forward to 4 days at home with Jen before she goes to SEA for the week. She underwrites this ‘project’ and as a friend recently reminded me ‘encourage your audience to donate’.

This same friend also turned the tables on me and he became a guest host of the SLR podcast and interviewed me. That was fun and a bit terrifying- stay tuned!

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