We are now a couple weeks out from concluding another summer with our campers at Sherwood Forest, my first as Camp Director, and I am still buzzing with excitement. This summer brought a range of emotions for me – at times nervous to be leading our program, but even more thrilled and grateful to experience the magic of camp with our kids and staff.

This summer, we hosted a 5-day co-ed mini-camp session for 1st and 2nd graders, and two summer sessions for 3rd-5th graders and 6th-9th graders (those in our Leadership Training Program) – one for female-identifying and one for male-identifying.  Altogether, we were able to provide an enriching camp experience for 212 campers this summer, including our Mini Campers (the first time since 2019!). Seeing Sherwood Forest for the first time through their eyes is something you never forget. Campers were able to choose from a wide range of camp activities. They went swimming and canoeing on our beautiful Buder Lake, embarked on hikes and overnight camping with their cabin groups on our 475 acres of forestland, braved to climb the 45-foot Tango Tower, and even produced a play on our main stage.  The opportunities for challenging oneself at camp and finding new strengths are endless at Sherwood Forest and it’s amazing to see our young people flourish before our eyes.

As I turn my focus to the future, I have so many aspirations for my role at Sherwood Forest and how we will continue to best serve our campers. Above all, I hope to truly instill a culture of kindness at camp that all else centers around. For kids these days, they are so often surrounding by negativity and criticism that it begins to go unnoticed by them. Camp is a place to feel welcome, safe, and accepted for who you are and I intend to do everything in my power to provide that experience to every child. By being surrounded by screens every day and influenced by people online, so many form unhealthy mindsets that prevent them from finding community with others, developing confidence, sense of self, and just being happy. Finding a way to stay relevant in an increasingly tech saturated world will be a challenge, but it is so crucial to reaching kids and showing them the grounding effect and sense of connection the natural world has to offer. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are working toward it.

Thank you, as a friend of Sherwood Forest, for continuing to believe in our mission and allowing us to do the work we do. Even as we evolve through each new era, your support means the world to us and our campers. We deeply appreciate that you trust in our abilities to make the right choices for our programs and understand the complex needs of the children we serve each year. Because of you, kids come home from camp with an abundance of knowledge and countless stories to tell. They build confidence through learning and begin to let go of their fears of the unknown. The sense of accomplishment they feel after a 30 mile river trip or a 28 mile hike is unmatched. The skills they acquire extend past being in nature and are transferable to those they will use as young adults. The experience they have at Sherwood Forest readies them for life, gives them a place to take safe risks, teaches them to speak up for themselves, learn to live in community, and take care of others. Even now, all these years later, I still think of all the things I learned as a camper and how they continue to shape how I move in the world today. Your support of Sherwood Forest goes far beyond this summer. Thank you again for helping give the youth we serve the incredible experiences that last a lifetime.

-Alexis Newsome, Quest Program Manager and Camp Director