Letters from Camp
Janet Mpagi is a 12-year-old girl from Gayaza, Uganda who is excited to learn guitar, swim in the lake, play sports, and make friends this summer at Windsor Mountain. While it will be Janet’s first summer at Windsor Mountain, this is not the first summer a member of the Mpagi family has been a part of the camp community.
Janet’s father, Livingston Mpagi, was a staff member on the Green Team at Windsor Mountain in 2007, where he led campers in planting and harvesting vegetables in the community garden. In Uganda, Livingston farms and runs a children’s center, where community members can learn new skills and crafts, including music, storytelling, sports, farming, and basket making. Livingston said, “The experience and great memories from Windsor Mountain are too powerful that since 2007, not a single day that goes without me thinking of this great family in New Hampshire. I am happy that my children too are getting this opportunity of joining Windsor Mountain family. All this is possible because of the great friends I got through Windsor Mountain.” Livingston’s older daughter, Everlyn, attended camp in 2013. She took (responsible) risks on the ropes course, played drums under the bell tower, and made many new friends.
Every experience is a learning one, and my time at Longacre was not different. I got more out of my last year at camp than any other year. Before camp, my life was unstable and very uncertain because I was dealing with tons of family issues. When I went to Longacre I was able to express myself without feeling judged or the fear that someone would use my weakness to target me. Longacre is my utopia.
I was one of the older kids this year which meant that the younger campers looked to ne for advice. This was my biggest learning experience because I am the youngest of five boys- I was always the one that had to ask for advice and no one cared for my input. The time that stuck out to me was when a younger camper named “K”, who wanted to be a Mentor Kid like me asked for my advice. She didn’t just ask for my advice but she really listened and considered the things I told her. She started to open up to me and we spoke about other things, she trusted me and even better, she appreciated me. She made me feel like an older brother, a role I had no experience playing- but I did. During camp I was going through a lot of new experiences that made me a better person, and I thank all those who helped me.
Susan who is the director of Longacre isn’t just a staff member, she is a part of the community. When my father attempted to reach me while I was there, I broke down. She was there with advice but never forced her opinions on me, and she always made me think about any choice that I was going to make. Jake and Louise a couple who also live on the farm year round are so close to me- they are like parents to me. Jake, who I wrote my college essay about, has taught me the importance of balancing work and play this year. I can remember a conversation we had while chopping wood about how your life is your life and we can’t let others control it. He didn’t know it but at that point I decided that when I get to college I will take the course that I want to and not the one that my brother wanted. At that moment I made the choice that I won’t let my family issues hold me back. Louise is Jakes wife and I love her with all my heart. She has pushed me to take giant mental steps, she has seen me grow over these last 3 years. She has a fast motor which rubbed off on me and now everything I do… I do it with full force. This year was one that I will never forget. I went from having almost nothing to being a leader in my community at camp and now a college student.
We’ve had great success getting ready to send “D” and “A” to camp. I put out a nice note with pictures of the two girls to friends in my bookclub, work friends, my YMCA exercise class and tai chi group. On my front porch I’ve found bags of clothes and shoes for the girls, sleeping bags, towels, sheets donated by so many people and by their friends as well. For example, one friend forwarded my note to her entire synagogue congregation. We have also had some donated funds to pay transportation costs. The most wonderful contribution came at the bank. I went to my local Wells Fargo Bank to ask for advice on raising funds for a good cause. The bank opened a savings account for each girl and then passed the hat and collected $100 for each girl to start off the savings program. When I took the girls to the bank to sign for their accounts, they met all the bank employees, and thanked them all. It was very sweet. I have about $700 collected and think I’ll need another $600 to cover all the preparation costs. Needless to say, both girls are very excited about the possibility of camp and I am so grateful to EOF for helping to make these experiences possible!
— “D” and “A”’s sponsor “E”
Greetings from Evelyn.
Camp was the best and best of my life experience. I loved the way people talk to each other, the care and the peace and safe environment. All this was great learning experience. I learnt alot from my counselors, the way they treat all the children. The caring and helpful hearts they have. The power and high spirit of always making us happy. They always believe in us and told us to do our best. I learnt many songs and games, making cups, plates, flowers and other things from clay. I learnt many songs like Wanted Soldier, many camp songs, rock songs and learning how to play music instruments like guitor, reggae dancing, perform drama, learnt alot about art eg stained glass, making many useful things out of glass, drawing, painting, rope course, waterfront, green team, sports, fishing and many more activities. I made many friends and learnt many useful things from them, like making hats, writing songs, fishing, swimming, sail boats, how to play drums in many drumming traditions and many more useful activities. I got to play more sports like volleyball, tennis and many more sports from different people at camp.I got new great ideas of how to live a better life and how to love people and the environment. Windsor mountain is a great family. I learnt many leadership skills like giving my best, make the best of each day that comes my way and learnt that any place can be home only if you set your eyes and mind on it in a friendly and ready to learn direction. I learnt a lot about how people from different parts of the world live together. I learnt more about being myself and not to judge other people of who they are. I learnt many great things that I can not forget. This is a great development in my life.
Windsor Mountain the home of all friendly people and ready to learn people. Thanks alot for welcoming me to this great supporting and caring family. I love to come back next summer and many more summers as LIT and Staff. Am also very much interested in seeing my young sister Janet getting this opportunity to come to camp with me next summer. Am request EOFUND for two scholarships next summer. One scholarship for me and one for my sister Janet. I have told them many interesting stories about camp and they are interested in coming to Windsor Mountain international summer camp.
My experience at Windsor mountain can go on and on. Allow me to stop here for now.
Thanks to all the friends that made it possible for me to join Windsor mountain international summer camp.
Looking forward to see you again and to hear from you.
Nakimera Evelyn Nabagesera
This summer the Educational Opportunities Fund provided a matching grant to a teenager to attend Longacre Leadership Program. There were three partners here: EOF, the Longacre Foundation, and the family. “K” would not have been able to have this experience if not for the generosity of EOF. We are deeply grateful for your support of this young man and of our program.
“K” lost his mother at a young age is being raised by his older sister. When he arrived at Longacre, he was a shy and withdrawn boy. As the summer progressed, he was encouraged by our nurturing community of adults and teenagers. He began to trust more and express his feelings, most notably in poetry and music that he wrote and shared with us. Here is one rap he wrote and spoke in front of 80 people at our talent night:
basic principles are north any additionals are south
not many mouths to feed
yet so many willing to take the lead
to put food in hungry bellies
not with just food but with knowledge but only if you’re ready
to take up a steady living
like hard work gets natural tipping
smiles & thank yous from people who appreciate it
work & play it seems in perfect harmony
which seems so unrealistic in our not so perfect economy
We are so appreciative of the support EOF provided.
I just got back from visiting “M” and “G” at Windsor Mountain. They say they have never been at a place where they’ve “seen such kindness”, and that they learned “not to judge”– to take people as they are, and drop the pre-conceptions. Based on what I know of “M”, this is a very big and important shift in thinking. When I arrived, “G” introduced me to a boy who was waiting with him as “my very awesome new friend.”
I marvel at the things they took away from their experiences and am SO glad that your scholarship board made it happen. I’ll be closely following their progress through this school year.
Many thanks for everything!
Last year my favorite thing to do was proudly making new friend and how kind some people where. The atmosphere at Windsor Mountain Camp is amazing because everyone is always doing something but their always happy. The people their always have smiles on their faces, too. I honestly would love to go back because I love the feeling I get when I’m here it’s just so happy. Also I REALLY, REALLY want to go back because I would love to see all my friends again and see how badly they missed camp after they left.
On the first day when I came to this camp, I was a bit scared. Didn’t really want to talk to anybody but about five minutes later I’m talking and socializing with other kids in my cabin and why they’re here. I learned a lot from this camp and if I had to tell all of my friends it would take days. But the two main things I have learned was not to lie under any circumstances and don’t ever, ever judge people for who they are, people are all different and all come from different cultures and respect them. There were a few things I never did in my life that I got to experience at Windsor Mountain Camp like canoeing, zip lining, kayaking, stenciling, and bike riding on hard turns and staying away from technology.
In the end this camp is amazing and you can’t really get the same experience anywhere else. This might sound crazy but it is okay to have dreams about this camp, I know I’m not perfect but if you guys could please take me back I would be the happiest kid in the world.