November 2017 E-Newsletter

This is new! Why an E-newsletter?

Some of you may be feeling a little blue that you didn’t receive a colorful newsletter, chock full of updates and information in our recent mailing! Having a newsletter to hold in your hand is a lovely feeling, and I’m sorry to deprive you of that joy. But, tuck this in your heart, moving to an e-newsletter allows us to live two values that we hold dear at Camp Kum-Ba-Yah:

1) Being environmental stewards, and

2) Streamlining our efforts to provide a camp experience to as many children as possible.

Rather than spending money on printing and postage we are able to provide more children with the CKBY experience. It also allows us the opportunity to reach out more frequently with exciting updates about what we are up to and invite you to join us in the process and the celebration.

So sign up to receive our updates. I promise not to overwhelm your inbox, but I think you’ll be quite pleased with all the news we have to share and you’ll want to be in the know!


A Vision for the Future

October brought cooler weather, hints of color to campus and crunchy hiking trails covered in leaves. It also brought the CKBY Board of Directors together for a strategic planning retreat. We spent the day sharing personal stories of what connects each of us to CKBY’s mission and why we are called serve and give back to this organization. The sharing was heartfelt, inspiring and motivating. At the end of the day we left with a unified vision and mission for CKBY that will lay the foundation and strategic plan for our future. We look forward to sharing this vision with you and the exciting work that lays ahead. Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay informed and join us in our efforts.

Grayson’s First Camp Experience

My husband and I were nervous before our 7-year-old’s first Camp Kum-Ba-Yah experience this past summer. He was not a great swimmer and can be shy around new people. My husband even called the Camp Kum-Ba-Yah staff prior to signing him up to ensure that he would be monitored closely in the pool.

The first day of drop-off my son and I were both nervous. He was mostly concerned that he would find something he likes to eat at lunch, and I was worried about him being safe and having a good time. I picked him up that afternoon and he was hot, sweaty, and beaming.

“I jumped off the diving board!” he told me as he got in the car. “We sang songs and went on the trail and my counselor is super funny.” I was so relieved. Each day he came home bursting to tell me all the fun he had. By the end of the week he was swimming the pool with ease and had made new friends.

When I asked him about what he thinks about Camp Kum-Ba-Yah today, he smiled and said, “It was pretty great because I liked the zipline and archery. The counselors were nice and helped me when I needed it.”

When I think about what we will be doing this summer, Camp Kum-Ba-Yah is at the top of the list. It was an invaluable experience for my son and I’ve seen its effects on his self-confidence long after summer has ended.

International Counselor

During the summer of 2017, our family had the great joy of hosting Pelle Jongen — a Camp Kum-Ba-Yah counselor visiting from the Netherlands — in our home for several weeks.  We hadn’t met him before he arrived with his suitcase, but we knew that if he had been hired at Camp Kum-Ba-Yah, he would be a kind, caring, and fun-loving young man.  He was all of those things, and so much more; he became a part of our family.

Our older son, Oliver, is a camper and loved having a “celebrity” (a.k.a. KBY counselor) included in our home life.  And our younger son, William (not yet old enough to go to camp), was equally enthralled with the newest addition to our household.  Pelle was extraordinarily kind to each of them, not just tolerating their constant attention, but welcoming and returning it.  He cooked and ate with us, played soccer and did puzzles with the boys, talked to us about his life in the Netherlands, met and spent time with our extended family, and connected with each of us deeply and personally.  On the day we took him to the bus station to say our final goodbyes, the boys and I all cried watching him go.

But it wasn’t long before we started getting pictures and messages, and boxes of puzzles and treats from the Netherlands.  Pelle left Lynchburg, but he’s not really gone – he’ll be part of our family forever.  I know other international counselors will be looking for host families next summer, and I hope many of us will welcome them into our homes and hearts.  If your experience is anything like ours, you’ll get much more than a houseguest.

— Emily Crowder, Camp Kum-Ba-Yah Board Member

Counselor Award Recipients

Raise your hands to “Camp 5” our counselor award recipients!

Bev Cosby Leadership Award:

Sadie Friend & Katie Ruehle

Sadie Friend 

Sadie is a sophomore at Radford University studying anthropology. She has had a positive impact on the KBY community since 2014. Sadie derives her energy from watching the children experience joy at camp. A lesson learned from camp that she carries with her each day is to be loving, understanding and always be curious!


Kate Ruehle

A sophomore at Bard College, Kate studies sociology. 2017 was her fourth year at camp including positions as the Arts and Crafts Director and CIT Co-Director. The energy she finds at camp stems from the knowledge that she creates a meaningful experience for the campers. Every year she learns more about herself and the world. While at school she carries around the reminder from camp to slow down and look up at the trees and a sense of responsibility to create community.

Charles Watson Jr. Spirit Award:

For the second consecutive year – Sophie Smith

2017 was Sophie’s 11th summer at CKBY as a camper, CIT or counselor. You will find Sophie and all her energy greeting campers at drop off and enthusiastically leading camp songs at opening and closing.

Patrick H. Haley Scholarship Fund

Pat’s final season at camp was celebrated with a video recapping Pat’s three decades of history with camp and short clips from counselors past and present thanking Pat for his care and service to CKBY. Without Pat’s knowledge the camp staff collected $1,500.00 throughout the season to establish the Patrick H. Haley Scholarship Fund in his honor.

School Programs

As summer programs wrapped up and early fall arrived three local colleges, Sweet Briar, Randolph and Lynchburg, visited campus to complete service projects as part of their orientation program. We are always grateful for the opportunity to connect with college students and for their hard work helping CKBY with maintenance and program preparation so we can serve Lynchburg City and Bedford County schools throughout the academic year.

Our experiential and place-based, education programs use environmental and adventure education to foster a connection with nature and to encourage environmental stewardship. In October, Rivermont Pre-K learned about woodpeckers and Peakland Pre-K explored our woods in search of tracks. This winter and spring we look forward to hosting a group of young men from Fort Hill Community School participating in a mentorship program. Students and mentors will visit twice a month for team building programs offering challenges that require critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, collaboration and creativity.

We are thrilled to have all Lynchburg City first graders returning to campus this spring for hands-on, placed-based science programs and look forward to hosting students from the New London and Huddleston Elementary’s gifted program for the first time.

An Update on KinderWoods 

Our loyal followers have been hearing about our plans to develop a nature playspace on campus. The momentum began in 2015 through the vision of a Church of the Covenant mission group in partnership with CKBY. A working group invited Rusty Keeler, one of the pioneers in the movement to reconnect children to nature, to guide us through the initial stages of developing a nature playspace. Our working committee has been hard at work in 2017 and we look forward to opening the gates to KinderWoods: A Nature Explore Space, for the 2018 camp season.  

The mission of KinderWoods is to connect children’s hearts, minds and bodies to nature through playful exploration in the woods. Within the perimeter of KinderWoods children, ages seven and younger, will find design elements that incorporate nature in ways that support children’s natural interests. The space and elements encourage hands on, child-centered, nature play that will foster opportunities for children to value their role as caretakers of nature, experience natural consequences, learn problem solving and discover childhood joy.

Our young 2018 campers will be the first to experience the creative elements of KinderWoods, but we look forward to announcing how this intentional space fits into our school programs, Keeper of the Woods membership program and public use this spring!

Volunteers Needed!

Love camp? Love Common Grounds Cafe? Commit to serving as a dishwasher and benefit both organizations. Common Grounds Cafe graciously sponsors Camp Kum-Ba-Yah every other month. In turn, each Friday we provide a volunteer dishwasher to assist behind the scenes. We hope to build a group of committed volunteers who are willing to sign up in advance to help us partner with Common Grounds Cafe. If you are interested in volunteering one, or more, Friday morning(s) in December, February, April, June, August, or October between the hours of 8:00 and 11:00 am please email

Keeper of the Woods
Be on the lookout thing spring for more information regarding our Keeper of the Woods membership program. If you love CKBY, you will not want to miss out on this news!

Special Events

Needing to host a special event? Consider CKBY’s 45 acres, picnic shelters, playfields, swimming pool (seasonal) and custom programming. Please contact the office for availability and possibilities!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *