‘When We Love Something, We Go Back’

One metro Detroit mom is so happy with her daughter’s summer camp experiences, attending YMCA’s Camp Ohiyesa has become a summer ritual.

Tamieka Porter is a working mom who wants to offer her daughter, Mia, the best summer experiences available. Over the years, Mia has tried sports camps and other day camps, but when Mia turned 9, Porter suspected her daughter would love the traditional camp experiences she remembers from her own youth.

They registered for the day camp option at Camp Ohiyesa, a YMCA summer camp for kids ages 4 to 16 on the shores of Fish Lake in Holly. “That first summer, we tried the day camp and she loved it. Loved it,” Porter says, adding that the convenience of YMCA transportation to and from camp each day was a big bonus. “I was attracted to the fact that they transport your child from a pickup location that was close to home,” she says.

Parents and kids have so many choices for summer enrichment, including day camps at local YMCAs in metro Detroit, day camp and overnight camp at Camp Nissokone near Lake Huron in Oscoda, summer swimming lessons at the YMCA and so much more.

But 12-year-old Mia is ready to head back to the century-old Camp Ohiyesa to build yet more memories, connect with camp friends and counselors and just relax in the summer sun. This summer marks Mia’s fourth year attending YMCA Camp Ohiyesa, where she’ll participate in a two-week overnight camp experience.

“When we love something, we go back again and again,” Porter says.

Building connections that matter

At a time when even young kids make the majority of their connections through electronics, Porter loves the fact that summer camp gives kids the chance to interact with peers face-to-face, against a backdrop of nature and activities they can’t do anywhere else. And she has proof that Mia is engaging and having fun.

“I get the most amazing pictures of my child just enjoying herself all day long,” Porter says, adding that she loves to be able to see Mia having summer fun. “She’s swimming, paddling, canoeing, climbing the rock wall, doing archery, all the things I loved to do as a kid.”

Mia comes home enthused about swimming, of course, but also about connecting with counselors and friends. Porter is thrilled when Mia reconnects with friends she sees only at camp because it means that other parents also value the experience enough to send their kids year after year.

“The staff all have a ton of experience with kids and there are lots of opportunities to grow and engage in things that kids might not get to do on an everyday basis,” Porter says.

Achieving personal goals

Working up to her fifth year at Camp Ohiyesa, Mia is excited to be recognized with her very own paddle, the mark of being a camper who attends year after year. She’s also interested in eventually participating in the Leader-in-Training program that will give her the opportunity to build and strengthen leadership skills in the camp setting.

“I love the fact that Mia is taking the joy she is receiving from the summers at Camp Ohiyesa and wants to give back and become a leader for other kids so they can do amazing things as well,” Porter says. “It’s a great experience for her and a thumbs-up for Mom.”

Add these personal development opportunities to all the fun summer camp activities Mia experiences as a camper at YMCA Camp Ohiyesa — like campfires, s’mores and lots of swimming — and it all adds up to a very fun experience worth repeating each summer.

“Giving your child the opportunity to attend camp is an amazing experience your child will remember as a lifelong memory,” Porter says. “I know parents have options, but YMCA camp, particularly Camp Ohiyesa, is an exceptional experience. I don’t think you can go wrong with that.”

Learn more about YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit — and about how you can Join, Give, Serve — at ymcadetroit.org. Find out about camp at ymcadetroit.org/camp/overnight-camp.

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