Sydney Presbytery Camping Program, formerly known as Mira Pines, is the same camp I've attended since I was nine years old. When I was sixteen and seventeen, I volunteered my whole summers there and then the past two years I've worked there. This year will be my third. As a camper, the week I spent there was easily the best week of my summer. Some of my most favorite memories are of the many nights I spent at the camp. There is no greater feeling than at the end of the week you get when you hear the campers tell their parents how much of a great time they've had and that they can't wait until next summer.
There was a huge controversy so blown up into the realm of irrationality that I can't even tell you what it was about. Something along the lines of a contract and lack of money made "them" (whoever "they" are) force us out of the campsite that held a home in our hearts for years. We had to basically move to another campsite. We were at two different ones the last two years, and our original campsite has been torn down to the ground. The same bunks I slept in and chalked my name across with crayon no longer exist. Mira Pines Campsite, which was once full of the anticipation of camp to start, has been put to rest.
"Different Site, Same Spirit" has been our slogan for the past two years but we've attended many meetings in which the existence of camp in the future was debated. The camp registration fees for our camp have increased brutally, therefore, the registration numbers are at a standstill. The price has risen from $150 to $360 for one camper. We've been getting parents calling outraged by the increase (obviously). The staff has nothing to do with it and we've done everything in our power to try to get the fee to decrease back to a rational one. The cost is so high because the camp didn't make any profit in a very long time. But since WHEN is it about money? Kids have nothing these days to keep occupied and the access to drugs/alcohol is so much easier than we were kids so a lot of them are resorting to this as a means of entertainment. Camps are one of the only things we can count on; People don't realize how important they are... especially the people who only want to make money from them. It's not about the money. At all. It's about helping kids have an unbelievable summer.
I've tried contacting the local newspaper, radio stations and TV ad agencies to help promote the camp. I've gotten little to no feedback, therefore, I'm very disappointed in the community who doesn't seem to want to help Mira Pines. I've made an online website for the camp so kids can register online - a lot more convenient than in the past : www.sydneypcampingp.com and we've printed many posters to advertise.
With a campsite that holds about 35 campers, there are only 5 registered for the first week of camp. This is unbelievably heartbreaking and it seems my only wish is lingered on the hope of winning the lottery so I can buy back the original campsite and help campers (new and old) to continue to spend their summers at their favorite place.