Kati “Koehler” Kelley grew up in Newport, NH in a strict, protective family and didn’t have many experiences outside of her small town. In 1979, Kati and her older sister received camperships through Coniston from the Catholic Women’s Club of Saint Patrick’s Church in their town.” Being able to attend Camp Coniston was a true gift as my family didn’t have the financial means to send us,” said Kati.
Camp was Kati’s first time being away from home and meeting children from other states and countries who had different backgrounds. “I felt very fortunate being given the opportunity to have so much independence at such a young age,” said Kati. She was able to choose her own activities and it was her responsibility to get there on time. “I loved being able to choose my own path.”
The most memorable part about Coniston for Kati was standing in line waiting for meals — singing, dancing and just being overall goofy with her new and old friends. “Camp gave me a positive approach on life and taught me the importance of making choices that make me happy. It was these early years where Coniston gave me the opportunity to be self-reliant and build my confidence. Camp allowed my relationships to come alive and taught me not to be afraid to try new things. I always knew I wanted to give my kids the same experience someday.”
Today Kati is the Vice President of Marketing at HarbourOne Bank in MA and she sends her two daughters Ava (13) and Emily (12) to Coniston each summer. “As a mother, I appreciate Camp’s policy on having no electronics. My girls are able to learn how to form new relationships in person not online.”
“The values Camp Coniston is creating for youth are incredibly powerful and life changing. I not only want this for my own kids, but for as many kids as possible no matter their financial ability. This is why I donate to Coniston. Coniston helped shape the person I am today, is helping to nurture my children and I am happy to give this gift to any child.”
We know the Coniston Experience can be enormously transformative in Campers’ lives as we have seen with Kati’s story. Support from people like you — those who have experienced firsthand the great change Coniston brings to young people — makes this growth possible.