YMCA CAMP CONISTON

"No matter who you are or where you come from, when you arrive at Coniston you know
that you have a friend looking out for you who loves you with every breath in her body because
if you're willing to put yourself out there and really engage with new people there will always
be a warm and welcoming friendship to form at Coniston."
                                                                                                                      Catherine

YMCA Camp Coniston meant the world to Catherine.  She described it as her 'heaven on earth'.  It was a place without judgement where Catherine could truly be herself.  She could take risks, experiencing life in a different way than she could in Arlington.  Catherine particularly enjoyed the summers when she was a mentor to a "little sister" and acting in the camp plays.  She loved the food, apparently creating her own chant to get more rolls, as well as single handedly setting a record for the most potstickers consumed during dinner.  Catherine loved to dance at the Ice Cream Social (ICS) and she loved the special CIT ceremony of running into the lake.  It was important to her to write letters to her CIT friends to open on their trip.  Catherine dearly appreciated the ceremony and traditions of Coniston. She loved being part of a community with such deep roots and was looking forward to carrying on those traditions so that all the campers who followed her would experience the magic of Coniston just the way she had.

Before attending her second summer at Coniston, Catherine completed her 'Dear Cabin Counselor Camper Letter' form.  In the prompt, "What I don't want to do at camp is:",  Catherine wrote, "to not take every opportunity and to not act like it's my last."  Catherine truly walked the talk.  She lived every day like it may be her last.  She took every opportunity like it could be her last.  She truly lived life to the fullest, especially at Coniston.

In a letter Catherine sent home from camp during her last summer there she wrote, "I couldn't be happier to be at camp again.  I love waking up in the morning knowing that I'm going to have such a wonderful day because of the people around me.  Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to come here."

One of Catherine's greatest accomplishments was winning a coveted West Coast CIT spot.  We often joke that it is easier to be accepted at Harvard than it is to earn a spot as CIT at Coniston.  When the much anticipated letter arrived and Catherine opened it, she shrieked, immediately dropping to her knees in tears of relief and joy.  It was one of Catherine's best days.  On the contrary, when Catherine arrived at the realization that she was too sick to fulfill her role as CIT, it was one of her darkest days.  She was so crushed.

At Coniston Catherine forged such incredible bonds and created lifelong friendships.  The Coniston sisterhood is very strong, dynamic, fun, caring, smart, passionate, generous and ambitious.  While Catherine was sick the support was incredible. Her Coniston friends made videos, sent cards, visited often.  Her CIT class was wonderfully supportive even though some had never met Catherine.  After Catherine died the heartbroken Coniston family embraced us as their own.  They showered us with love and affection.  One former counselor and friend even wrote Catherine a CIT letter that we placed at her grave. In a very sweet display of devotion, Carly and Emma wore Catherine's prom dress to their senior proms.


When Catherine died, in lieu of flowers, donations were asked to be made to Camp Coniston in Catherine's memory.  Incredibly, enough money was raised to establish a Campership in Catherine's name that will be awarded to a camper each summer.   Catherine would love that someone who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend camp will be given this magical opportunity into perpetuity.

Reid attended Coniston for the first time last summer.  He was able to experience firsthand what was so vitally important to Catherine.  We hope he felt her vibrant spirit while he was there.  Reid's cousins Connor and Jane also attended Coniston for the first time last summer.  Catherine would be thrilled knowing that Coniston now runs through the veins of her family members.