Kristina Slottke knows a place that makes the rainy days seem so bright.
“I was only 7 when my big brother died and it felt like I had nothing to cling to anymore. But then Camp Neyati came into my life and it changed me forever,” said Kristina, now a 19-year-old counselor at the weeklong residence camp.
Camp Neyati is just one of 170 Greater Midland camps serving more than 3,000 children every summer. Whether it’s sports, robotics, cooking or theater, Greater Midland has a half-day or full-day camp for it.
“As a mom, I love seeing my kids happy playing, busy learning, and making new friends. When your kids are at our camps, you know they’re getting the best in the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Greater Midland CEO Kristen McDonald.
Registration is now open for Greater Midland Community Center camps. Families who register on March 15 can receive a one-day-only, early bird discount of $10 off every camp. (See ribbon below for details).
Camp Neyati is located on 187 acres of wooded acres on Crooked Lake, just 55 northwest of Midland. Campers get the chance to swim, fish, kayak, shoot archery, play arts and crafts, and more under the guidance of our experienced camp counselors.
This summer, Camp Neyati is open to Greater Midland campers three different times: July 9-12 (ages 5 to 8); July 9-15 (ages 8 to 13); and Aug. 3-6 (families).
Kristina Slottke said Camp Neyati has been her happy place since that first summer in 2004.
“We lived in Alabama at the time. My mom and my aunt, who lived in Midland, thought Camp Neyati would be a good way to keep my mind off my brother’s death,” recalls Kristina. “I really wasn’t into the whole outdoors thing at the time. So when my mom drove me up here from Alabama that summer, I thought I’d really hate it.
“But I loved it. Camp Neyati was my safe haven when I lost my brother and it’s still my safe haven today.”
Kristina loved it so much that her mom drove her the 900 miles to Midland every summer after to visit her aunt, Connie Murphy, and to spend the week at camp.
And for 12 of the last 14 summers, Kristina has visited Camp Neyati and made lasting friendships. After graduating high school in Alabama in 2015, she again came north and spent the summer working at the Greater Midland Community Center day care center. The following year, she packed her bags and moved to Midland for good.
Now she’s working at Greater Midland as an assistant caregiver in the infant classroom, splitting her time between school sites and infants. One day, she plans to teach high school history.
And for that one precious week each summer, she now returns to her happy place – now as a camp counselor helping other children just like her.
“There’s no place on earth like Camp Neyati,” she said.