Preaching to The Choir !

Years Removed and Miles Away- Summer Camp Still Pays Dividends!

It will come to no surprise to readers of this blog, that our Storer community believes deeply in what our camp provides to so many.  Whether it is Outdoor Environmental Education or good ol’ summer camp, camp serves the greater good.  Our camp in particular has been providing character-building experiences since 1918.  Like I say in the Stoney Lake Reflection’s podcast opener, there are some pretty amazing people involved with YMCA Storer Camps.  That’s why I enjoy producing the podcast.  One aspect is recognizing some ‘amazing people’ and their contributions. Some of our guests are well known, others you may not be that familiar with.  But altogether, these people have been touched by camp and made great contributions to her history.  No matter the forte of the individuals, at the end of the day, it all benefits youth development.


The Stoney Lake Reflections Recipe

The recipe for the SLR Podcast is not exact and one that is hard to define, yet here’s a partial attempt to call out some of the ingredients for the SLR podcast:

1  part history lesson

1 part reminiscing

1 wink and a nod

Touch of dry humor- as needed

1 pinch of laughter

Sprinkle of tradition – to taste

A nod to history

1 spoonful of the present

1-3 parts philosophical musings

1 swig of zippy (oops, wrong recipe)

Lessons on leadership- as needed

Always stir in a healthy helping of Hope (for a prosperous and continuing future)



The Good

Throughout the Podcast, we also talk to specialists in their particular fields, from Naturalists to Outdoor Education teachers, Waterfront Directors, Citizen Archeologists to Equine Managers.  Specialties aside, the programs always should return to the central focus: serving children.  It doesn’t matter if the lessons are educational or vocational in scope, for the importance is enrichment of those we serve.  You’ll hear this theme time and time again.  And I believe it is not just one of a bygone era.

I’m hopeful current staff listen to these episodes and gleen at least one thing from them.  It could be an insight on history or the essence of what timeless principles ought to be practiced in the present.  As a young staff member I too was subjected to the tales of yore.  But as I matured, I came to realize that those ideals and principles weren’t half bad! 😉

Because of these amazing guests, other common threads surface from their stories: the power of love, community, faith, character development, and serving others.   It’s a great fraternity to belong to as our family spans many eras, but we have a common interest and principles we believe in.



Dr. Don Klotz- Future Guest & Special Friend    (this man can teach us all a lot!)

When the Nostalgic Clashes with the Present Day

So many times in my professional pursuits, I have looked around a boardroom table and had a pretty good guess who did and didn’t go to a summer camp!  In my professional life as an Advertising executive ‘ad guy’ in some ways I couldn’t of picked a profession farther than some of the ideals cultivated at camp (At times I amuse myself and imagine what Abimbola would say to some of the stuff I’ve seen).  I’ll spare you the war stories in this article.  But I can say without reservation that the corporate world can be a very cold place.

I often think, perhaps naively, how some people may be radically different if they learned about teamwork and leadership in an environment like YMCA Storer Camps.  Then I wake up to reality.  In the interest of eating, I have a job to do.  I can’t help some of these people, but I can put into practice some of what I learned at camp.  How to lead a group, how to navigate around difficult personalities or situations, bring common sense to the fore (stretch goal) and move forward with our assignments that will help us attain whatever goal is before us.  And dont forget about Gumby-like F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y.  To say at times I’m in conflict between professional goals and personal fulfillment is not a stretch.  I’m afraid this phenomenon is more prevalent than we think.  That’s the reality of facing bigger challenges as we progress through life (note: I think the challenge is better than the alternative).



                                         Present Day- habitat naturalis


At the end of the day, all I ask is that my fellow humans be decent. I was once praised for my politeness, but was also marked down by the same observor on a performance review for not being forceful enough and at times, too polite[?] Yes, really.  But considering the source, I wasn’t surprised.  So the message was clear, nice guys finish last?  Do I always practice this beau ideal of being the best human I can be?  No.  Do I get frustrated with traffic? Perceived incompetence? Inpatient? Testy between meals-YES, guilty as charged.  But in aims to be driven, yet fair, that’s why I’ve always provided my teams a book to read entitled “The No Asshole Rule’ by Robert Sutton.  So the title is a little crude and wouldn’t make a good chapel, but you get the point of the book from the title alone.  Don’t hire jerks, don’t work with jerks, don’t let jerks poison the well.  Furthermore, those working with me are clued in to observe and practice the following principles and guidelines for my teams:

√ Don’t approach me before I FINISH my first cup of coffee. OK, half joking.

√ I’m not the best in the morning. OK, not really joking.

√ Always ask before calling a meeting “Do we need this meeting?”

√ Communication is fantastic (as things move very fast in marketing), but if you have an issue to report (problems), make sure you have solutions to offer, don’t just dump off ‘Problems’

√ Courteousness and decency go a long way.  I’m not looking for saints, but I am looking for decency amid a stressful environment filled with demanding clients and quick deadlines. Work is stressful enough.  Don’t negatively contribute to the team dynamics.

√  Be responsible for your work and comportment.

Today’s Goals… You are only as good as you were yesterday

What Everyone Should of Learned

With camp in mind, the attached article spells out what this choir already knows.  If everyone had a place like Camp Storer in his or her lives, humanity might be more humane!  Or at least people would be more rounded and in tune with productive teams and beautiful souls.  The headline extolls what I learned long ago- The Summer Camp experience is better than SAT prep.  In fact, my college essay was written about my experience on Storer’s high ropes course.

So here’s some external validation to what Storer Alumni Know….Read On!

Overnight summer camps are better for your kids than SAT prep classes




Quick Look: Storer’s Outdoor Environmental Education Program

Quick Look: Storer’s Outdoor Environmental Education Program

I wanted to invite Curt Reigelsperger, Director of Curriculum at YMCA Storer Camps, to discuss some of the important work-taking place in Storer’s nationally recognized outdoor environmental education program.

Some quick facts: The Storer Outdoor School is a hands-on total immersion learning center serving more than 120 elementary and middle schools each year. From it’s very beginning; YMCA Storer Camp’s Outdoor Environmental Education program has provided elementary students an amazing introduction to nature by leveraging camp’s natural assets, including Stony Lake and Camp’s 15 distinct bio zones.  “The Great Outdoors” makes science and related curriculum come alive, and significantly more relevant, for each student.  Moreover, take a gander at these quick factoids about YMCA Storer Camps OOE program.  You’ll certainly agree that the results are measurable and significant:

  • Each year, more than 10,000 students and teachers spend 3-5 days and nights on-site at our Outdoor School. Storer’s staff of educators offers more than 30 courses that teach natural sciences, environmental issues, cultural history, and team building through active participation.


  • The importance of outdoor experiences reported in independent studies that show OEE programs raise science scores by as much as 27% and that OEE programs have a positive effect on student achievement in general.


  • Studies show that outdoor educational experiences positively impact student behavior and interaction with peers as shown through improved conflict resolution skills.


Many have heard about STEM as an education movement and most definitely as a buzzword over the past decade or so, and if you may have missed what it stands for, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Those fields of education are being focused on now more than ever because of the economic trend that manufacturing and skilled labor is being overtaken by a wave of automation and robotics based workers. This means the ability to problem solve, code, and program are going to be prioritized in the job force. Our curriculum is working to reflect those movements by helping campers explore and become problem solvers. Children working through our program often will observe and hypothesize about why certain phenomena happen. The power of children playing and observing can be seen at Storer Camps everyday.


Our campers come from varied backgrounds, from the farm to the city and everywhere in between. We develop all students to become stewards of our earth. The environmental programming precedes me by a large amount of time, but it is possibly my favorite part about camp. The enthusiasm which students learn about renewable energy, preventing food waste, and local ecology is inspiring. There is a camp garden which is managed by Tia Black that helps us show how to farm responsibly and how to use compost from our dining hall that becomes the feed for the plants that will then nourish consumers.

We have a classroom, The Net Zero Experience, managed by Kevin Knapp, that walks students through various energy ideas including the carbon cycle, circuit building, latent water and energy usage, energy conservation, problem solving for world situations, and career opportunities in energy. The Net Zero Energy Experience is fun for students because it is completely hands on and interactive. My personal favorite activity in the Net Zero Experience is an interactive display that features a bike pedal and three types of lights, all which require differing amounts of electricity to power. The participants get the chance to use the bike pedal to see which light takes the most of their mechanical (pedaling) energy to power. It is a lot easier for students to then quantify how it takes more energy to light an incandescent light compared to an LED light. This makes a lot more sense to a child than reading a home energy bill. We often hear from the leaders of schools that attend Storer Camps who speak about how their students continue to limit their energy use and food waste in school and at home long after their visit.




An aspect to my job that is new is developing an advisory board for our STEM outdoor environmental education program. February has seen the finalization of who is involved as founding board members and the scheduling of our first board meeting in June. The goal of the advisory board is to include other educators from the surrounding community and abroad to help guide our program. We have selected highly thought of professional educators with various specialties to lead our program. Storer Camps strives to be on the leading edge of educational change and with this group we will have the tools needed to provide continuing excellence.





Thanks Curt Reigelsperger for sharing this piece.



  • David 'Stoney' Stoneberg

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Storer's 100th CelebrationJune 30, 2018
The big day is here.

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