As an 8-year old, Toni came into camp as a first-year camper timid and uneasy, and a whole week away from her family seemed daunting. But she was anxious and excited to see what camp was all about. After exploring nature, tie dying, swimming in the lake, cooking over a campfire, and riding the horses – right along side all of her new friends – she didn’t want to leave!
For years to follow, Toni continued to enjoy horseback riding, dances, trench ball, and everything about camp. She loved making new friends and running around with them in towels and flip flops, while playing in the grass and on the water front. Becoming a counselor-in-training (CIT) at age 14 and then a counselor at age 17, Toni has learned responsibility and leadership at camp. Her self-esteem improved and she was able to experience camp from a totally new perspective. Now at age 23, Toni is returning to camp for her 2nd second season as the assistant cook (and her 14th summer overall!). She loves preparing meals for the campers and also working with them on campfire cooking skills and healthy eating choices. She loves being an influential role model to her campers and watching them make friendships with each other that last long past camp.
Toni, a recent elementary education graduate from Bemidji State University, attributes her passion for youth development to her time at Camp Cormorant, both as a camper and staff member. She hopes to become a teacher in the fall in a community in which kids may need extra support, either financially or behaviorally. “I am so thankful for the experiences I was able to receive at camp,” Toni says. Little did she know as an 8-year old, that Camp Cormorant would have changed her life in such a positively impactful way and that she would have the opportunity to return those gifts as an adult.