Secret Sauce

We received an email from one of our camp parents late last week. Kim Hester of Washington, DC gave us permission to share her email with our larger Keystone community. It is so humbling to be recognized in this way. We value our partnerships with our camp parents. Raising our children takes the entire village.

Every summer we begin the 500 mile trek home directly after pick-up (and a quick 2nd farewell with cabin mates at Dolly’s) and I spend the 8 hour drive hearing about the prior weeks and observing the changes camp has had on my daughter. During the tween years, I spent many nights wishing Keystone offered a year long program! Year after year I wondered why this place was special - what precisely is its “secret sauce?” Many reasons would come to mind - no phones/social media, a particularly kind counselor(s), creative and varied outdoor activities, opportunities to challenge oneself, etc. There are many camps that offer these same things. Not having been to summer camp myself I thought, perhaps, all camps are like this.

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This year leaves no question in my mind - your leadership is the key. Every great organization shares this key - a true leader who inspires others to be better, to take risks and persevere. There are many lessons my daughter has taken from her summers at Keystone; but I am most thankful for what you and your staff have taught her this year. This year camp offered much more than in previous summers - it provided a case study on what it means to be a Leader.

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Thank you for sharing your thought process leading up to the ultimate decision to open in such a transparent manner - while taking full responsibility for the final decision. Those weekly emails left no doubt in my mind that your final decision was the right call. Regardless of whether cases occurred during camp I had full faith in the plans in place to handle that scenario. Despite the loss of a dear friend and colleague, peer camps deciding not to open, increasing cases leading up to opening day, (the list of reasons goes on and on) you measured the risk and stayed true to your belief that the girls needed camp. Your communications expressed both courage and vulnerability - a truly unique style of leadership.

Your amazing staff is a reflection of your leadership. The example you set permeates through them into the camper community. Strong leadership is the core of Keystone and the secret sauce which makes it so special. I am grateful for what you’ve created at Keystone and hope you and your team know how much the hard work is appreciated!

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