At age six, Duane arrived at Camp Wediko for the first of many summers that he would spend in Windsor, NH. Experiencing the loss of his mother and the jarring life changes that came after her passing had left him in turmoil and a state of deep grief. The team at the school he was attending at the time witnessed his emotional and behavioral struggles and referred him to The Home’s Camp Wediko program.
As a first-time camper, Duane was very withdrawn and closed himself off to the opportunities camp offered to try new activities and meet friends. Opening up to others did not come easily to him.
Over the years, Duane’s schools continued to refer him to camp. As he entered his teenage years, his quiet, indifferent personality took an aggressive turn. Duane came from a background where this was required to protect himself and his siblings. Staff worked with Duane to help him develop coping strategies and branch out in a way that could help him grow and heal. Each new summer, Duane softened to his surroundings and started to find enjoyment in forming new relationships.
By the time he was 17, Duane was a veteran camper and was accepted into a leadership program that gave him more independence and mentoring opportunities. He lit up at the sight of other “returners” and took pride in helping younger kids, assisting staff during activities like fishing (his favorite) and working in the kitchen. The despondent child and easily angered teenager was gone; in his place, stood a jovial young man who looked forward to serving as an example to others.
For an individual whose life was turned upside down at an early age, Camp Wediko became a reliable constant. It was an unwavering source of support and a place that gave Duane permission to put his guard down. Camp became a safe space. Camp became a reunion. Camp became family.
Duane’s transformation over the years is a testament to the power of Camp Wediko, yes, but more importantly, to the potential that all campers have to evolve while in Windsor. Duane and his Wediko journey hold a special place in our team’s hearts, so much so that they hope he comes back as a staff member someday. After all, he has the skills, he has the patience… and he is truly family.
Learn more about The Home’s Camp Wediko Summer Program here.