by Sara Rastoder
It is a well-known fact among the campers, counselors, and VAMPY alum that this camp experience is one that draws people back year after year. What is it about VAMPY that makes it stand out in people’s minds and continues to bring in more people for the fun? I asked one of my returning campers, Lee-Lee Knupp of Russell, and a new camper, Olivia Harwood of Scottsville, to weigh in on what brought them to VAMPY and, for Lee-Lee, what made her come back. Lee-Lee is a 3rd 4th camper, meaning she has attended camp for three years and this is the fourth (and final year) she is eligible to attend; Olivia is a 1st 3rd, meaning that this is her first year at camp and the third year she is eligible.
Like many devoted campers and even like me when I first began attending VAMPY, Olivia heard about the program by word of mouth. As she looked further into all VAMPY had to offer, she thought it sounded fun and made the decision to attend. When it comes to making the decision to keep coming back to camp, Lee-Lee hit the nail on the head with common reasons why so many campers come back: it is a chance to reconnect with friends from your first year — especially when you live too far away from many of them for frequent visits — and an opportunity to take interesting classes. Attending a new camp can be daunting, but all of the VAMPY campers make sure that no one feels left out. When I asked what she liked the most about camp so far, Olivia smiled and said, “The people, definitely.”
There is so much room to learn and grow at VAMPY, and many reasons to keep coming back. The camaraderie of the camp body is Lee-Lee’s favorite aspect of camp, and she cited community time and lunch as being some of her favorite times of day because “everyone’s together.” New campers also have hopes of what they would like to get out of camp by the three weeks’ end, and Olivia said she hopes to learn more of a new language —she is taking the Arabic class — and make lots of friends.
Once students take the plunge into the VAMPY experience, it stays with them for a lifetime — it is all a matter of sticking their toes in the first year. As her third and last year of camp unfolds, Lee-Lee reflected on what words she has for new campers and those thinking about coming to camp. “Well, there are a lot of returners, if that tells you anything,” she laughed. “You don’t know anything until you try it, and there’s something for everyone, whether it’s the classes or the activities.” Whether it’s a camper’s first year or their fourth year at VAMPY, the three weeks students spend here are impactful and engaging, definitely making for the “best three weeks of summer.”