Campership, Conistonian, and Current Camper Parent Gives Back

campership-parent-camper-giving-tuesdayKati “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.

The 2016 Summer Staff are Giving Back

2016-ymca-camp-coniston-staff-campership-1You may have read about this story on Facebook or perhaps watched a video on Camp’s YouTube channel, but what the 2016 Summer Staff accomplished must be re-told. During staff training this summer Program Director, Parker Olson was on a mission to educate his fellow Conistonians about the importance of giving back.


To educate the staff, Parker first found similar products which would cost the same amount as a campership — a pool table or a fancy laptop. He then asked the staff what value these material items had to them. He received the response of “little value”. Parker then let everyone know that these products are equivalent in cost to sending a child in financial need to Camp. He spoke about his personal memories of his camper days and how much Camp has meant to him. Working together as a group and donating the cost of coffee for a week the staff raised the $1650 in only a few days with a 96% participation rate.


Do you think a group of people from your office or school could join together like the 2016 Summer Staff to make a summer at Coniston possible for a child?

Nelson McLean Fund

nelson-mclean-coniston-campership-summer-campIn the spring of 2015, the YMCA Camp Coniston Board of Directors established and donated a $35,000 campership in honor of NELSON MCLEAN. Nelson was the longest employee in the history of Coniston and has always supported the campership campaign. He began his work in 1983 and retired as the camp’s bookkeeper in 2015. His 32 years of service to our YMCA were witness to many changes, including Coniston becoming known as one of the finest camps in the US.


Nelson’s life story is one of giving back. He spent his entire career working with youth through schools, his church and the YMCA. This campership is a testament to his generosity, compassion and a legacy to his life’s mission of helping “young people become worthy adults.” All children receiving this Campership have had struggles in their home life that range from single parent households to dealing with a parent with a brain tumor. Two weeks at camp is always a much needed and anticipated break for these children.


When a camper is awarded the Nelson McLean Campership, the cost of camp is paid in full so a child may make new friends and participate in the camp program that Mr. McLean believed in for over 30 years.

Catherine Malatesta: Heaven On Earth

A diagnosis of fast-spreading sarcoma didn’t change the fact that sixteen-year-old Catherine Malatesta’s spirit could light up a room. She was a natural leader in every aspect of her life and loved being center stage. She left the hospital to perform in her school’s musical, attend junior prom, and pass her AP exams. When she couldn’t leave her hospital bed, she recorded a campaign speech so she could be elected Student Council President. Through her resilience and strength, she set an incredible example for all who knew her and even for those who didn’t.


Catherine was a charismatic person, full of life. The friendships she made and the moments she spent at Coniston were life-changing. During the summers she was able to release from the rigors of her daily schedule and be herself, with no judgment from her peers. It was because of the amazing Coniston sisterhood she experienced that this was her heaven on earth.


On Catherine’s birthday in November her family visited Coniston to spend time at her most favorite place. The weather was beautiful and it was very special for them to be able to walk the grounds and experience places that meant so much to Catherine. That difficult day was made a bit easier by being surrounded by Catherine’s spirit.


Catherine-Malatesta-YMCA-Camp-ConistonThe Malatesta family has been overwhelmed by the support they have received in their daughter’s memory. With the funds directed to Camp Coniston an annual Campership in Catherine’s name has been established, and now a child who would otherwise be unable to attend Camp because of financial hardship will be able to experience the magic that Catherine lived for. Catherine’s parents expressed that she would have been over the moon to know that a child would receive this opportunity.


Catherine’s exuberance, infectious smile, fearless personality, steadfast loyalty, confidence, courage, grace and enduring love for others have left an indelible mark on all of our lives.


To all the donors of the Catherine Malatesta Fund
“This is my broken, but strong heart speaking directly to your generous and kind heart…thank you so very much for embracing my family and not turning your back during this terrible odyssey and for loving us as your own.”

— Jennifer Goodwin, Catherine’s Mother

Carl Witherell: Changing Lives Since 1984

Carl-Witherell-CampershipIt was not out for fame or recognition that Carl Witherell did what he did, but rather out of a deep love and affection Camp Experiences have on each child and their community. Through Witherell’s estate his dream of sending kids to Camp has been achieved by thousands—truly changing lives. His generosity and foresight inspires us all to leave a legacy to this world through the growth of a child.