Retiring Camp Mini-Yo-We Board Chair Reflections

Andy MontgomeryBlog

Andy Montgomery recently retired as chair of Mini-Yo-We’s board of directors. Andy and his son, Connor, raised over $100,000 for camper sponsorships last summer on their Brent Run — a 162-km canoe trip through Algonquin Provincial Park!

A Rocky Start

I was introduced to Mini-Yo-We as a camper at the very first session of Junior Camp. It was the summer of 1981 and I was 8 years old. Back in those days, sessions were all 2 weeks long. To say I was incredibly homesick would be an understatement. I vividly remember that we were all required to participate in a “morning dip”. The lake water was cold and I really hated swimming! Most of all, I missed my family and my summer routine at the cottage. For me, the mid-session visitor day was pure torture! I had convinced myself that I would be able to persuade my parents to get me out of that place. Well, my plan didn’t work out and I was forced to stay for the second week. The last thing that me or my parents could have ever imagined was that not only would I come back to Camp in future years, I would also really never leave. It’s now 42 years later and I still find ways to stay connected and involved.

Why Did I Stay So Involved?

  1. Camp Mini-Yo-We changed my life! That’s the plain and simple truth. Camp is where my faith developed, where I gained my confidence, where I learned to take risks, where I chose to serve and where I found my voice. I chose to stay involved because I love seeing this type of life-change in others.
  2. The mission at Mini-Yo-We is to develop tomorrow’s leaders, which I am extremely passionate about. People sometimes question whether the next generation will “have what it takes”. I’ve seen firsthand how incredible the young leaders at Mini-Yo-We are. It’s such a gift to see these leaders grow and develop. I’m encouraged and believe our future is in good hands.
  3. It doesn’t just happen! Camp exists because people give of their time and resources. Look back at our history and it’s clear that many people have made sacrifices for Mini-Yo-We. It’s such a great part of our history and I’m convinced it’s a significant part of what makes Camp great. I count it a privilege to be a part of this.
  4. We live in a world that can tend towards being unintentionally self-absorbed. Life gets busy and it’s easy to find yourself left with no margin to help others. While I have by no means perfected this, I have tried my best to leave space to give back. It’s brought joy and been personally rewarding to know that I’m helping and making a difference.
  5. Mini-Yo-We is family! My friends from Camp are my closest and most important friends. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this community! 

I’ve stayed involved with Camp in a number of ways over the years, for example by volunteering in the summer and at work parties. With the exception of a one year break in the middle, I’ve spent a total of 20 years serving on the board. As I write this blog post, I’m preparing the agenda for what will be my last board meeting. While there have been times that were a lot of work, and there were also times such as during Covid when there was additional stress, I can honestly say that I’m so thankful I had the opportunity! It’s been an incredible honour to serve on the board and I already know that I’m going to miss it immensely.

My Mission

Three years ago I created a personal mission statement. It took me 47 years to learn enough about what makes me tick to be able to capture this — perhaps I tick more slowly than most. My mission is to spend my life learning, guiding and giving! Serving on the board has been a way for me to live this out. I’ve learned so much over these 20 years and am truly grateful. Looking back, I know that I’ve received so much more from Camp than I’ve given! 

“He who is not busy being born is busy dying.” Bob Dylan