For the past seven years, sisters Kylee and Kiersten Johnson have spent their summers together at WinShape Camps for Girls at Mt. Berry — and neither can imagine spending their summers any other way.
“Out of anything I’ve ever done in my life I can 100% say that WinShape has impacted me the most,” said Kiersten, high school senior.
Kylee, 10th grade, started coming to Mt. Berry the summer of her first grade year, after hearing her older sister Kiersten tell stories of her amazing time at WinShape. The two spent the following summer together in the Chippewa tribe — the youngest tribe of girls at WSC for Girls at Mt. Berry.
“We LOVED it!” exclaimed Kylee. “We were so little, but we loved it, we didn’t miss home and didn’t get homesick.”
Since then, the girls have spent summer after summer coming back to reconnect with friends and counselors who have impacted their lives.
“You don’t find those kinds of girls anywhere else,” said Kylee. “Being able to have those friendships that stay with you is something that makes camp so special.”
To describe how remarkable nature of these friendships, Kiersten recalled an experience from this past summer during her time in the Creek Tribe.
“We had just finished writing our own ‘screwtape letters’, based on the book by C.S. Lewis, and got to read them to one another. All of the girls began to speak truth and pray about them together,” she said. “We all got to read out our biggest insecurities out loud and prayed and spoke truth over one another. That is something that doesn’t happen anywhere other than WinShape.”
The relationships that these girls have formed at camp have affected the way they approach relationships outside of camp as well.
“You see the Lord work more clearly in each person around you when you’re not at camp because you see it so clearly when you’re around everyone at camp,” explained Kylee.
Kiersten has also experienced a change in the way she views others because of what she has learned at WinShape.
“Before the summer I was a Catawba, I would always try to love people on my own strength. I wouldn’t fill myself up with reading the Bible or praying about it, and it was literally, physically and emotionally exhausting me.”
She recalled a conversation with her counselor Haley Hawkins, who now serves as a Logistics Specialist for WSC for Girls at Mt. Berry.
“We talked about how we have to fill ourselves with the love of Christ if we are going to be able to love other people,” she explained. “The way I love people now compared to before with what I have learned at WinShape is completely different than before — and it leaves me feeling filled up and not empty.”
Kiersten describes this feeling of fullness as the joy of the Lord that she experiences while at camp.
“I actually wrote about WinShape for one of my college essays, and I used the word ‘joy’ to define it originally,” she said. “Joy is a forever amount of happiness that comes only from the Lord and a forever amount of peace that comes only from the Lord. And that is what WinShape provides for campers and staffers.”
When asked what WinShape means to her, Kylee responded with one word: Love.
“It is a place of love that means home and means love”
Both Kylee and Kiersten are grateful for the friendships they have formed through their experiences at Mount Berry and could not help but express their gratitude for different staffers that have affected them.
“Jenna Johnson, is the sweetest — she’s my rock and still checks in on me all the time,” exclaimed Kylee. “Anna Tidmore and Lily Steck are just incredible. And you can’t forget Abigail Reed — she even brought me Dairy Queen the other day!”
“I’ve loved every single counselor that I’ve ever had at camp,” said Kiersten. “All of the Creek staff were so incredible this summer — so shout out to the Creek Tribe!”
While Kiersten and Kylee couldn’t help but overflow with their love for WinShape, we here at WinShape Camps would not be a place that fosters remarkable relationships without incredible campers like Kiersten and Kylee!
Campers just like these girls are the reason we do what we do — and are the reason that we love what we do!