My Camp Journey

Hello everyone! My name is Mads, and in summer of 2018 I was a girl side counselor for YMCA Camp Benson, but it was way back in the 3rd grade when I experienced the summer camp for the first time. I did my first year as a day camper (Yes, back in the olden days when day camp was a thing) and was scared of new places. Looking back I didn’t realize how lucky I was, and little did I know that I was becoming apart of a family and a place where I now call “my second home.” Growing up, most my classmates look towards summer and pictured themselves at a beach or on some kind vacation, while I only looked forward to camp. Camp Benson gave me opportunities that I would never find in my small hometown. Thanks to Camp Benson, I found my love for nature, hiking, and adventuring out. Most of my camp memories don’t include 1 of the 5,000 times I’ve gotten the chance to zip line, but the mud fights, dance parties, and most importantly the people that have impacted my camp career. The friends and staff I have met through YMCA Camp Benson are insanely important to me, the counselors I had each summer were some of the biggest role models growing up. I remember each one by name and how they have impacted my camp life. They taught me the core values and how to better me by treating others. A lesson I’ll never forget is the Platinum rule. I’m sure most of us of heard of the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”, but camp goes above and beyond with Platinum Rule, “Treat others BETTER than the way you want to be treated”. Camp sets the important standards for the real world. Summer camp may not teach your child about math or science, but we can teach them integrity, kindness, and compassion. Camp has taught me more about these elements than any school, team, or club. I was the quiet kid, I still am. You couldn’t pay me to raise my hand in class! Yet if you walked into Camp Benson anytime during the summer, you could find me singing at the top of my lungs or trying out my latest dance moves to make a camper smile. Summer camp has taught me individuality and ways to be confident. Flash forward to 2014 when I entered as a sophomore to the Staff Development Program (SDP). Those two years I got as an SDP, was a foot in the door for staff, while still enjoying the magic of camp. In 2016, I was asked to be apart of the YCB staff and I knew I was ready to be apart of the positive impact Camp Benson has on everyone. I got to work with amazing people, some whom I’ve looked up to for years. The next three years as specialty staff and as a counselor has taught and changed me so much in such a positive way, and ended in

me changing my major to pursue the camping field. I found some of my best friends and people who I can count on, while discovering what I love to do. So here we are in 2019, going on to my 4th year on staff. I am very excited to step up and be the SDP Director. I already lived my dream growing up, going through the SDP program and as a staff member, and now can’t wait to provide my knowledge to the future of our camp staff. I’m counting down the days til Summer 2019! Camp on! - Mads “Perhaps best of all, Camps offer kids a chance to feel like they belong. All those goofy chants and team songs, a sense of purpose and attachment to the identity that camps promote go a long way to offering children a sense of being rooted”- Dr. Michael Ungar

Mads - Summer 2019 SDP Director

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YMCA Camp Benson

16355 Scenic Palisades Rd.

Mount Carroll, Illinois

Have Questions?

Please contact Gwyn “Mama G” Bemis”

Camp Director


Madison “Pawz” Vandersee

Assistant Camp Director


YMCA Camp Benson