GREEN A group of future leaders at Camp Y-Noah recentely took on more than the usual horseback riding, swimming, crafts and climbing the rock wall during their stay. Instead, they got to work, remodeling two bathroom facilities.
For the Leadership In Training (LIT) campers, their experience was special as they helped to improve the YMCA-ran camp for future campers. They dove into a project that took them beyond what most summer campers do. They tore out toilets, knocked down walls, painted, did concrete work and cleaned out buildings that had not been used in more than 30 years. They even made sure a family of skunks moved on their way to a different home.
Noah Kittle, 15, of Green, said he has been coming to the camp for three years and it is a great and safe place to make new friends, be yourself and have fun.
"Working on something like these mini-bathrooms will make a difference for many years to come, even when we are older and we are not supposed to come here anymore."
The young leaders spent two weeks at camp planning out their project and carrying out what needed to be done. They put together a proposal of everything needed to complete it, including a time frame, man hours and supplies. Then, the campers reached out to local businesses to advocate for their project.
"It is easy to impassion the people that are directly attached but, to go out and share that passion with someone else and get that person on board, that is a pretty big deal, especially for 14 and 15 year olds," said Camp Director Carl "Rocky" Wargo.
"We walked around camp and looked at what really needed to be done through the eyes of a parent who would be dropping their child off for the first time. We looked at what needed to be repaired or what may be unsafe. We all agreed on the bathroom project," said 14 year old Meghan Falkowski, of Northfield
Overall, everybody on the team thought this project was important.
Jack Basinski, 15, of Copley, explained that the two smaller bathrooms have been sitting there "collecting dust" and the project was to make those bathrooms usable. The reason the team chose this project was because the bathhouse and restroom are quite a distance away, especially for little campers, and the newly renovated facilities are at the lake.
"We needed more bathroom accessibility and that would be inclusive to kids in wheelchairs or kids who might be confused about their gender. It will make kids more comfortable," said Kittle.
The Leadership in Training campers learned many skills, inclucing how to work with people, knock down walls, operate power tools and many others throughout their two week endeavor. Billy Krills, camp properties director, said this project is really cool and the future leaders took care of everything along the way, including the clean up. He added that Goodyear had put new roofs on the buildings earlier in the year, Lowe's came in and did the plumbing and Gauer Tools had been "very generous" in helping with the project.
Alexis Santora, who along with Chloe Muir were lead mentors, said they both were absolutely blown away by the group's decision making. Muir added that she was impressed with the decision-making and the finished work.
"I have never seen a group that has worked as cohesively together as this group. There has never beeen arguing and no one is vying to be the head of it," said Santora, adding that the project is all about the kids.
Annie Tarnowski, 15, of Northfield, said the program has helped her decide that she wants to work at the camp in the future. She has been coming to the camp for 10 years and said she really liked this project.
"This camp means a lot to me and it is really important to help fix the camp," she said.
"What camp does is amazing," said Wargo. "We are good at fun, but fun is not what we do. What we do is work with parents and schools and help develop kids into good human beings. We help to make better people."
Camp Y Noah, which opened in 1930, is located on Mt. Pleasant Road in Green and consists of 250 acres with a 30-acre lake.