Everyone has a talent. But how do you find it? Camp Moss Hollow excels at bringing the inner star out into the open, writes my assistant, Julia Feldmeier.
Daisha Hale loves to perform. Whether it's singing, dancing or cheering, the 12-year-old said she doesn't get nervous in the spotlight.
Her mother, Patrice, concurred. "Daisha's very outgoing," she said.
It's no surprise then that Camp Moss Hollow, a wooded symposium of talent shows and campfire singalongs, is the perfect stage for Daisha. She's had plenty of opportunities to shine: This is her sixth summer as a camper, and she usually attends multiple sessions.
On Friday, just after she returned from the first session of camp, she was already musing about the next talent show. She'll do a dance, for sure.
The campers in Daisha's cabin were going to choreograph a dance for the talent show, "but we didn't have enough time," she said. "We were always busy."
But between swimming, volleyball games and bouts of ConnectFour, they crafted a banner for Boxwood, the name of the cabin village that's home to 12- and 13-year-old girls. The Boxwood banner was pretty cool, Daisha said, "but [the judges] said they were all good, so nobody won the competition."
Fair enough, because the talent shows are really about "just enjoying yourself," Daisha said. Though she's not shy, other campers initially are reluctant to stand before the crowd.
"They don't believe in themselves," Daisha said. But it's part of Moss Hollow's mission to change that. By facilitating a supportive environment, Moss Hollow staffers imbue campers with the confidence they need, both on stage and in life.
Daisha's cabin ended up performing the Boxwood Butterfly, a tune that sings of the empowerment Moss Hollow brings its campers:
"Once I was a caterpillar, now I'm a butterfly/ I've been reborn, and the Hollow is the reason why . . . / I've been transformed, I've been reborn, and the Hollow is the reason why."
Daisha's mom, Patrice, knows this is true. The 30-year-old mother of three is a former Moss Hollow camper, and she plans to send Daisha's younger sisters when they're old enough. Her rule: "At least try it once, and see if you like it."
And in the warm spotlight at Moss Hollow, the kids often surprise themselves.
The Luxury of Laps
That's how much time members of the Wellington pool swim team in Manassas had to test themselves. How far could they swim in an hour?
The answer: a combined total of 9,236 laps, which translates to about 154 miles, or nearly as far as the Chesapeake Bay is long.
It was Wellington's annual "Swim-a-Lap," a paddlepalooza of an event held this year on June 29 that attracted 136 swimmers. Seven Wellington kids swam more than two miles, with the top swimmer being 14-year-old Kim Young, who swam a whopping 146 laps in one hour.
"It's always a good team spirit-building type thing," said Wellington swim mom Iris Turner. "And it's always for a good cause."
The cause? Send a Kid to Camp. As they have for several years, Wellington swimmers are donating some proceeds from the fundraising event to The Post's annual campaign for Camp Moss Hollow, a very much appreciated $2,000.
The cost of sending one child to Moss Hollow is $590, which means that Wellington's $2,000 donation will allow 3.4 kids to spend a week in a sylvan setting in Fauquier County. Anyone up for donating the $360 that will cover the remaining six-tenths of a child?
Groups such as Wellington are the vital backbone of our Send a Kid to Camp drive. Swim teams. Condo associations. Coffee klatches. Co-workers who lunch together. By pooling their resources, their members can make a big impact.
Why, Washington Post employees who took part in our corporate golf tournament in May even raised $800 by purchasing mulligans.
Here are other groups that are helping us:
Capital City Branch 87, Suitland, $50
Aspen Systems Corp., Rockville, $250
D.C. Ramblers, Fort Washington, $54
Women of Rock Creek Parish/St. Pauls Church, Washington, $400
Brownie Troop 3455, Annandale, $27.50
Women of All Saints Church, Chevy Chase, $500
Getting Started Inc., Chevy Chase, $50
Friendship Seniors c/o Dunn Family Trust, Falls Church, $25
St. Margaret's Young Senior Citizens Club, Capitol Heights, $500
Linda A. and Leonard K. Greenberg Charitable Foundation, Bethesda, $1,000
How to Help
Time is ticking down. If you've been meaning to participate in our campaign, now is the time to do it. Our goal by July 27 is $650,000. So far we've raised $134,435.99. Here's how you can make a tax-deductible contribution:
Make a check or money order payable to "Send a Kid to Camp" and mail it to Family & Child Services, P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237. To contribute online, go to www.washingtonpost.com/johnkelly. Click on the icon that says, "Make a Donation."
To donate by MasterCard or Visa by phone, call 202-334-5100 and follow the instructions on our taped message.