Local camp has been changing lives since 1918

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Jackson, Mich. (WTVG) - A local camp is marking a major milestone this year. YMCA Storer Camps is in Jackson, Michigan, but it's owned and operated by the YMCA of Greater Toledo.

Many of you went there for summer camp or with your school. It's a place that continues to be part of generations of families in our region.

The camp has been along the shores of Stony Lake for 100 years. In this age of technology, it continues to be relevant and life-changing for many. Horses, sailing and swimming on the lake, outdoor games, nature walks and campfires are some of the long-standing traditions.

Lessons learned at camp as a young child helped propel Becky Spencer to where she is today as the Vice President of Camping, "It is the people here who taught me how to live the I Am Third life, putting others before myself. It taught me how to take the high road when there are controversies and it taught me how to work hard. My husband and I met here at camp, so when the job opened up in 2013 I jumped at the chance to come back here."

Long before today's high-tech world, the camp focused on helping children take a break from every day distractions. Becky says today that may be more important than ever, "They have a chance to unplug while they are here. They get away from the phones and computers and all the stress that comes with those things. That is very important. They're able to connect with nature, gain confidence and just have fun being a kid."

8-year-old Jackson Rice has been coming to camp for a couple years, and he loves it all, "I like to swim, ride horses, play gaga ball and broom ball. I like cabin time and eating with everyone. You've made good friends here? Yeah!"

Paul Thomas serves on the Advisory Board and the Scholarship Committee. He first came here as a young boy, "My first experience here was as a camper in the summer 50 years ago. This place was life-altering for me. It broadened my horizons and showed me things I was not able to see in the inner city of Toledo. A lot of the things I do today are because of my experiences here."

The horses made the biggest impact on Paul when he came to camp on a scholarship in third grade. That very first experience stayed with him and today he works to make sure other kids have that same chance, "It's the lake and the horses that were the highlights for me. When you talk to the kids who are able to come here from the city today, they say the same thing. Those are not things they get to do in their normal environments. Exposure to those simple things can help change the course of someone's life."

Paul passed his love of camp onto his son. This year Paul Junior will be a counselor in training, "It is telling of what this place is that it's been going for 100 years. Generation after generation can be inspired.We all continue to be enlightened here at camp. The heart of camp is in all of us and that is important to see. This is a place where I have learned to grow. I have learned to love myself and to love others. This place is very important to me." Celebrating a century of stories just like that along the shores of Stony Lake.

The 100th anniversary will be marked with a celebration at camp on June 30th. All camp alumni, former staff, family and friends are welcome. It will include tours, nature hikes, horse rides, boating and a campfire. It runs from 10am-9pm. We've posted a link.

On a side note, 13abc has a tie to Storer Camps. The founder of our station also helped the camp get it's start. According to camp leaders, George Storer gave the camp $1,000 to get things started.
The money was used to buy tents and dig wells so boys from Toledo could go to camp on the land.