One component of our mission at the YMCA is to strengthen the communities in which we live. To help us fulfill that promise, we must live our cause every day by intentionally thinking, acting and communicating in a way that helps us do just that. One way we do this is by having staff and volunteers share their "My Y story."
Through these stories, staff and volunteers share what inspires them, what motivates them to do what they do every day and how they feel about the YMCA. Check back regularly as we add more "My Y stories.
"When I was young I loved using my imagination. My favorite things to do were explore, draw, make crafts, play board games, and build things with Legos. The rest of my friends enjoyed very different hobbies like sports and video games. I wasn’t athletic or coordinated, so I despised sports. I always felt like my interests were the opposite of everyone else’s interests and so I spent a lot of my free time alone. When I got to college I had a similar experience. Everyone had traditional majors, like business and marketing. None of the majors sounded fun to me, and I didn’t want to do something for the rest of my life if I didn’t find it enjoyable. Then I found out about the Parks and Rec major and it sounded awesome. I could have fun in my career and change lives all the while. Now I just had to find a job that went along with it. You guessed it! I came to camp that next summer and I loved it! I finally found people that enjoyed the activities I enjoyed. I got to teach kids skills that I had to teach myself and I had a blast doing it. Camp has given me a place where I could be around people like me and people that would encourage me in everything I do. That’s why I keep coming back every year. Every time I left, I felt how I did when I was younger: like I was different than everyone around me. But here at camp, I’m just like everyone else. And that’s a great feeling. " -Rusty
"I started coming to camp as soon as I was old enough. I’ve always had trouble feeling like I could relate to other people and being comfortable in large groups. Coming to camp changed that for me, there was a place where I was safe and could belong. Camp is the only thing on Earth that has ever brought me peace. I feel so blessed to be able to supply that same feeling and experience for campers." - Meeko
One component of our mission at the YMCA is to strengthen the communities in which we live. To help us fulfill that promise, we must live our cause every day by intentionally thinking, acting and communicating in a way that helps us do just that. One way we do this is by having staff and volunteers share their "My Y story." Through these stories, staff and volunteers share what inspires them, what motivates them to do what they do every day and how they feel about the YMCA. Check back regularly as we add more "My Y stories."
"I had my first summer at Lakewood when I was seven years old. My mother had gone to Lakewood when she was younger and wanted us to have the same opportunity she had. My family moved around a lot and camp became the steady thing in my life to go back to every summer. I started staying for more sessions each summer and eventually entered the leadership programs. I first decided I wanted to be a counselor when I was a Ranger, I had the most amazing counselor who got all of us to really open up. After two years of not being at camp, I became a counselor in 2013. I didn't love it at first, it wasn't until session 3 that I realized the impact I'm having on these campers’ lives. Giving campers a break from everything going on in the "real world" is the reason I keep coming back." - McFly
"Before I came to the YMCA Camp Lakewood I worked at Camp Cedarledge, a Girl Scout camp. I thought about going to camp my whole life but never really got the chance as a child. When I got old enough I decided to go have my first camp experience, but it wasn’t the camp experience I always pictured in my head. When I finally found the YMCA I felt like it was the camp I always wanted to be a part of and it soon became a part of me. I’ve been a part of YMCA Camp Lakewood for four years." - Tweety
"From the very beginning, I have been in a hospital setting and around children. One of my younger brothers has a non-treatable disease, Sickle Cell Anemia. I've been in & out of the hospital with him since I was 4. I started volunteering at St. Louis Children's Hospital because I wanted to give back the same way people have to my family and I. I ended up on the Volunteer Leadership Board and volunteered for the United Brachial Plexus Network Camp at Trout. That's when I started doing research on Trout Lodge and Camp Lakewood. I thought and still think of this as my way of giving back and grooming the minds of our future leaders and explorers. Which is why I'm going on my second summer here." - Simba
"I decided I wanted to come to camp as I absolutely love working with children and I thought this would be a fun way to be able to both work with children and see a different country! After being invited for an interview with KC, I did research into the camp and was really drawn to the fun and friendly nature of Camp Lakewood- it offers such a broad range of activities to really allow children to grow! I was also really touched by the motives and stories behind the YMCA and the people they have helped along the way in their mission, so I knew this would be the right place for me!" - Moff
"When I decided to take part in the Camp America program over the summer, I was secretly hoping to be recruited by a YMCA camp. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about a Y summer camp, is having fun, playing by the lake, doing arts & crafts and trying new activities. You can sense that these camps are safe and inclusive of everyone, as it’s built right into the ethics of the organization. Traveling thousands of miles to be here was an easy decision for me. I knew that working as the photographer would be a challenge, but getting to play a part in creating an amazing summer for every child is definitely worth it. Making new friends and visiting new places is an added bonus. I was so excited to arrive in the USA to start work at Camp Lakewood this summer. After only a few days, I realized that this is a place where you can be yourself without any judgment. You get the chance to meet new people, make new friends and have so much fun doing it. There is no better place to spend your summer. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to come here!" - Sal
"After many years of making this place my home, what keeps me coming back is the love and support my camp family provides for me. My father was in the military growing up so my real family moved around a lot, and it was hard making friends at new schools. Having camp as that one place I could come back to every summer was very important for me as a child. For 16 years now, I have never doubted that this place was my home." - Zenon