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The Impact Garden at YMCA Camp Silver Beach

For those of you who were with us in 2012, you will know a little something about our Impact Garden. I want to take a little time here to explain the concept to you, and our vision for the future with it. The first, and most important principle here, is that… Camp impacts lives.

It is that simple, but how do you quantify that impact? How do you measure it? How do you visualize it? Sometimes we can forget just what we are doing here, what we are achieving every day. The Impact Garden is a physical expression of the impact we have had, and are having, on lives here at CSB.

Within the garden, there are many sculpted rocks, known as Cairns. Each Cairn represents a year of CSB’s operation and impact. The size of each Cairn is dependent on three factors. How many staff did we have, how many campers did we have, and how many impact stones did we lay. The first of those factors is simple. Each staff member lays a foundation stone in the Cairn. This is a larger sized rock, that builds a solid foundation for the impact they will have on the lives of the children they work with that summer. This is a valuable tool in the training of the staff at the start of the year, to help them understand what has gone before them, and what part they will play in the lives of the children they will be serving that summer.

The second aspect, is also a simple one. Each camper receives a small stone at the start of the week, which they are asked to hold on to for the length of their camp session. This stone is to be the symbol of their impact here at camp. Not only of the impact that camp is having on them, but the impact that they are having on their cabin mates, their friends, their counselors, the environment, and the wider camp community. At the end of their camp session, they place this stone on the Cairn, leaving behind their impact, and helping the greater impact of camp grow for that year. The third aspect is even more special. An impact rock is laid on the Cairn when a counselor feels like they, or one of the campers in their cabin, had an impact on an individual, or the community, that was above and beyond the norm. An example of this is when a child arrives at camp and simply doesn’t want to be here, cries because they are homesick at the start of the week and can’t make any friends, but leaves camp with a set of new friends, a huge smile on their face, and a statement of intent to come back for longer next year. We hear stories like this all the time, and some that are far more drastic than that, far more life changing.

Some of these stories will be highlighted in future camper spotlight segments. One can never truly measure the impact we have, or how the seeds we plant will grow and blossom, but the Impact Garden is our attempt to do so. As the years go on, and camp’s impact grows, so will the Impact Garden, growing larger, covering more ground, being beautified in dedication to those who chose to donate to our cause. As it grows, and expands over the years, those who have been a part of helping it grow will be invited back to remember the impact they have had. This includes a time capsule, buried beside each cairn, that will be opened 10 years after it was buried, and contains the hopes and dreams that each counselor had for their summer at camp, and the memories they had at the end.

The Impact Garden is a symbol of the great work that is done here at camp, and the countless lives that are impacted here.

The YMCA of South Hampton Roads is dedicated to putting Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.