Summer Camp is not just a place to send your kids to for 2–8 weeks. For me, it was more than that. It’s something that to this day holds a special place in my heart.
Camp Menominee is in Eagle River Wisconsin. My first year was in 2007 where I attended the first session. I had never done overnight camps, but that summer changed me. I grew to love the place like a second home. My cabin mates were my brothers. My last year was in 2016 when I was a counselor. I spent years yearning to go back to this special place. Driving through the front gates on the bus. Seeing the soccer pitches to the right with Al Lewis Baseball Diamond to the left. As you get further down the service road, you come across the Mike Dunleavy Basketball Courts. Then it hits you. You pull up to the heart of camp. All the counselors and campers from Father & Son cheering as you get off the best as the new session and camp season begins.
What happens as you get older and soon take on responsibilities? Yes, there is Fantasy Camp and Post Camp, but you won’t be able to relive Camp. All the sports and competitions that take place.
That is where Facebook comes in. The best camp in the Northwoods has a Facebook Alumni Group where Alumni can be updated on current events each summer. This includes posting daily photos of the campers, updates on competitions, and field trips. The group does a great job in engaging with the audiences. I remember when they tagged me in a photo as a TBT. To see the page do that and take the time felt special to me. I felt that I was still connected to Menominee even if I couldn’t make it back for another summer. The nostalgia really hits when you see pictures of events we used to do as campers and counselors. Even writing about this topic is bringing a smile to my face.
I think the overall group can do better when it comes to building conversations within the comments on posts. Many of the posts will show engagement like Likes but some may not have comments. It is usually the posts that talk about Alumni personal updates/causes that drive conversation. This is where Admins and moderators can step in. As there are 300+ people, we all experienced the same thing at the Friendly Confines. We all played the same sports, competed against the same camps, and traveled to the same places. No matter the age or year you went to camp, everyone can relate to one another. This is an opportunity Admins and Moderators can take.
We have a saying at Menominee that I grew up with that still holds true. There is no place, like this place, anywhere near this place. This is an absolute fact. Every time I visit my second home, I am not a visitor. I transform back into a camper. You can take the kid out of camp but never the camp out of the kid. This is the buy-in. It is the experience we all went through.
If you don’t believe me, this summer we played our rival for the first time in 2 years due to Covid. The entire competition came down to U16 Softball which was played at Camp Menominee. On the Instagram account, someone livestreamed the entire game and there was over 200+ alumni watching and cheering our family on. We were there when the final out was made. It felt like I was at Camp Menominee once again. This is what everyone remembers. Therefore, the group has been successful and only will become better as we move forward.
If there is something to take away is this. The best Facebook Groups are ones where the members share the same experiences. The ability to relate across multiple generations is something not many organizations can copy. If you have that ability, take advantage. You’ll be surprised how well it will go.