Camp Joy creates new bonds for students and staff

By Hannah Emmons

Underclassmen students have returned to Oyler with closer bonds after another year attending Camp Joy.

Oyler freshman Aureale DeBruce says she gained new friends during her time at the camp. “I started talking to people that I didn’t talk to at all,” she said. 

Aureale also said she became a better communicator by taking charge in different team building activities like trying to balance the whole group on a giant teeter totter and transporting a marble from one end of a basketball court to the other using only PCP pipe halves.

Tiffaney Hamm, Oyler’s enrichment coordinator, said from her perspective, the lesson learned was that we can do hard things.

“It was fun to watch our kids overcome challenges and I feel like the benefit of just getting away after the last two years of COVID created a strong dynamic for a great start to the school year,” Tiffaney said. Even students she didn’t know before the trip stopped to say hi after Camp Joy. “I think that was definitely achieved.” 

“I did something I would never do, walked on a thin-thin wire 30-feet in the air and I talked to people I never talk to,” said Aureale.

Camp Joy was not overnight this year due to COVID-19. Usually Camp Joy is an overnight camp for Oyler students. But this September, students spent 10 hours at the camp. Sophomores went on Tuesday, Sept. 28, and Oyler’s freshman attended on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Campers at Camp Joy participated in traditional camp programming that included activity sessions, ziplining, team building games and high ropes experiences. 

“I wanted to create something where the freshman class could really bond. Entering high school, sometimes we have new students,” said Tiffaney. Her role at Camp Joy was to make sure that everything goes smoothly. She said “It’s important to stay in good standing for the campers.” 

Oyler students have been able to go to Camp Joy for three years now. She says over the next four years, Oyler students become a family. “We didn’t want to leave anyone out, or make anyone feel like they weren’t as much of a part of our school as anyone else.”

The first year they took students to Camp Joy they took them for three days. “Watching the growth and the friendships over the course of those three days was super impactful. It almost took a day or two just to figure out the swing of things,” said Tiffaney. 

But this year Oyler students didn’t have an overnight experience. Tiffaney originally worried that the camp not being overnight would not make their time as impactful, but even one day at Camp Joy was an amazing way for them to connect with students. Sleeping and cabin arrangements made it a little more difficult than they have planned and staff coverage at Oyler has been low. So unfortunately they shifted the plan to a full day at Camp Joy. Tiffaney said, before the trip, “we will squeeze in as much as we can but still ensure the safest environment for the kids.” And that’s exactly what happened.

The freshman and sophomore wrote thank you notes to Camp Joy staff to finish off the week. Thank you for letting me have this experience, I had a great time!