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A reunion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our beloved summer Camp, first known as Ropioa and now as Owatonna, seems like a pretty big deal. Is it a big deal? I certainly think so! The past six months have been a lot of fun for me as I have turned my attention to the Reunion. I’ve pulled out boxes from the back of a closet and have unearthed some treasured camp photos and mementos. I know Camp has been reaching its typical audience through electronic and paper mailings that mention the Reunion, and I have also been reaching out through emails and calls in an effort to encourage attendance and support. “The Reunion Coordinator is well pleased” with the progress we’ve made so far. How fitting that we just recently crossed “the century mark” in number of registered attendees, and there is a palpable excitement about what we are planning. I expect enthusiasm will continue to build over the remaining months as we prepare for what is sure to be a phenomenal Labor Day weekend. 

Imagine all of the lives impacted by our first century. I was incredibly blessed to have been able to spend summers on Long Lake learning from the staff who served as role models and were examples of men of Christian character. Plenty of fellow campers also conducted themselves in a way that had a positive influence on me, too. I may not have won either a White Feather or a Black Feather, but the qualities recognized by those awards are admirable, and I do make a conscientious effort to live my life today in a way that would be worthy of those awards. I strive to consistently express the qualities that were recognized in those who have their names on the lodge wall plaques. I’m looking forward to seeing some of these people in person after so many years. Some of them were older campers or CITs when I was just starting out in Cabin 16, so they may not have any memory of me. However, I look forward to letting them know that I certainly remember them.

I’m fired up to reconnect with so many of our outstanding alumni. I have lots of camp friends and former counselors to thank for so many meaningful things in my life. Camp is obviously where I learned many skills that we all associate with Camp like waterskiing, canoeing, archery, building a fire, cooking over a camp stove, and more. Less obvious is the tremendous impact that Camp had on my love of music. I was introduced to many bands that I had previously been unfamiliar with as a result of sharing cabins with guys who had unique tastes. The same is true regarding my introduction to great books, comics, and games. While I had good friends back home, I didn’t spend three days with them hiking in the White Mountains, paddling down the Saco River, or sailing the length of Long Lake where deep, formative conversations took place. Counselors’ repeated requests to be quiet during rest hour didn’t prevent me from receiving first-class wisdom and knowledge from my bunkmates. I’m often transported back to Camp when I hear certain songs, think of certain movies, or play certain games. I can honestly say that an activity at Camp helped to set the trajectory of my educational pursuits and ultimately my professional career, so I’d say that Camp had a very profound effect on my life.

I loved my nine years as a camper and three as a counselor, and I’m grateful to have made it back to Camp for a handful of occasions over the years since. I’m looking forward to sights, sounds, and smells that we experience when walking around the camp property. How much fun it will be to also relive some of the traditions of Camp that we all bonded through over the years. When was the last time you heard a lodge full of voices start breakfast with Psalm 118:24 or heard the subsequent cacophony of all of those wooden chairs being pulled out simultaneously? When was the last time you had a Congo Bar? When was the last time that you eagerly awaited announcements at the end of dinner to find out what you would be doing for Evening Activity? I could continue listing things, but I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises.

We want everyone who has a current or past affiliation with Camp to feel welcome to join us for the Owatonna/Ropioa Reunion in September. Everyone is welcome. Wherever you are in your life journey, we’d love to have you. The 100 year anniversary of Owatonna/Ropioa is certainly worth celebrating, and a Reunion of past campers, counselors, trustees, and friends is the perfect way to mark the occasion. We hope to see you there!

– Terry Coolidge, Reunion Coordinator

To learn more, visit our reunion page


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