Memories made again at Camp Hertko Hollow

Guest Column
Macy Spensley
Former Express Intern

     If you know me at all, you know that a huge part of my childhood was Camp Hertko Hollow. I recently got to relive that part of my childhood, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

     Camp Hertko Hollow is a camp for kids with diabetes. I began attending when I was 7 years old. I had to take a break from going when I was 15 for other obligations. I was not planning on attending this year, but I decided to apply when I learned they did not have enough female counselors.

     I was nervous about my first year back after four summers. It was camp’s 50th anniversary and none of my closest friends were attending. I was volunteering during teen week. What if my cabin didn’t get along? What if I had no fun?

     I am happy to say I worried for nothing. From the minute my first camper walked into the cabin, I knew it was going to be a great week.

     The girls in my cabin were 12-14 years old. Several of them were at camp for the first time. They all instantly clicked and giggled the entire day.

     One of my co-counselors had been a counselor when I was still a camper. She taught me so much about teaching young girls about diabetes. My other co-counselor was non-diabetic and was there for the first time. She learned quickly and was a great asset to our cabin.

     Many of my fellow counselors were campers when I was there. I had not seen many of them since my last summer as a camper. We all picked up right where we left off and I felt like a happy, carefree kid again.

     It was incredible to experience a place I loved so much as a kid, as an adult. I got to walk freely throughout the camp and at meals. I hung out with old friends without structure. I helped with night rounds, where counselors test all the kids in the middle of the night to avoid bad blood sugars. I learned a new appreciation for how fun camp still is.

     My favorite part of camp was watching my girls form new friendships. I still talk to some of my camp friends every day. It made my heart full to know camp is still providing for young diabetics to find friends who understand what they are going through. I know they will last a lifetime.

     The leaders from the y-camp, where camp is held, gave my girls bracelets to give to someone who has made an impact in their lives. Several of them gave their bracelet to new friends they had made that week. I knew they had truly become friends when they all screamed Disney songs for an hour on our porch.

     A great part about Camp Hertko Hollow is that kids get to learn about their disease while also having fun. This year, one of the programs was called “The Real World” where we discussed actual problems the teens might face in their lives. I got to teach them how I dealt with my diabetes my first year of college. It felt great to make an impact in their lives.

     On our last night of camp, we sat in a circle and talked about our favorite moments of the week. One girl told the story about how she was nervous when unpacking because it was her first year at camp.

     “I looked at Krystine and we both instantly smiled at each other and I knew it was going to be okay,” she said.

     This is the magic of Camp Hertko Hollow. I will always cherish the weeks I spent here as a kid, and I can’t wait to go back. 


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