Thank you to guest blog writer, Elizabeth Trenk Pruzinsky, Vega camper 1995-2002, Vega staff member 2006-2007, Vega leadership team 2008, 2018-present.
Twenty-five years ago my parents decided it was time for me to start sleep away camp. As they looked at various Maine camps, they immediately picked Vega for only one reason. It wasn’t that the facilities were the most gorgeous or that the staff seemed the most dedicated (although both of these things were true), it was the fact that Dick Courtiss was the director. He had been the water front department head at my mom’s camp years earlier, and she knew I would be required to swim every day. This deciding factor has shaped my entire life. Not only did I become my high school Varsity swim team captain, Vega quickly became my second home. I have grown up at Vega, I have become myself here.
As my first summer began in 1995, Dick and Linda Courtiss not only required me to swim but quickly became my summer parents, fostering friendships and pushing us to be better people. Looking back, I can not believe that Dick is no longer here with us, however, I am so fortunate to still have Linda and gained even more summer family in Kyle and Emily. It has been so special to watch them become summer parents to the next generation of campers, including my own daughter. They instill the same passion and values in current campers that I remember being so engrained in myself and my friends years ago.
Although nothing will ever be able to change the beauty of Echo Lake, new floats and slides have transformed the everlasting pictures of the waterfront. The bunks have been revamped from red to tan, a beautiful indoor facility (the field house) has redefined the landscape of the “kick ball field”, a two story ropes pagoda now stands towering over a challenge course, and mounting biking, spinning, and cooking have been included in options for daily activities. These additions have only made the landscape of Vega even more beautiful and enhance the Vega experience for hundreds of campers every summer.
The biggest difference since my days as a camper and counselor lay outside the gates of Echo Lake Road. It might be hard to imagine for some of you, however there was no social media. There was no constant communication with camp friends throughout the school year, there was no planning your Tamary theme before arriving for your final summer. Fortunately, social media and technology have allowed bonds to form and grow stronger throughout the year, however the flood of technology has also increased cyber bullying and superficial communication. In removing these outside forces, Vega remains a safe haven to learn and grow and communicate and solve problems like it always has, allowing girls to have a place they can truly be themselves.
If Vega has ever meant anything to you, nothing can ever change that. The Vega community will always be there for you, the friendships that you have made will not disappear, the lessons that you have learned will not be forgotten, and the growth that you have achieved will not be lost. People will come and go, buildings will be knocked down and built and the world will continue to transform. But, the memories, the friendships, the lessons, and the joy, will remain forever. No matter how long you spend your summers here, or how long you stay away, your memories and future camper and counselor’s memories will become part of the Vega history forever.