Stories from around the campfire.

Discover fresh insights from our staff members, friends, and partners.

Thankful for YOU!

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Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays at North Star Reach, so we wanted to take a moment to share with you what we are most thankful for. 2014 has been such a monumental year for our camp and we are excited for what the future holds for our campers. The resounding message from our team is that we are exceptionally grateful for all of our supporters – whether you are a donor, a volunteer, a camper family or a board member. We humbly thank you for all you have done to help make our dreams of camp a reality – we know that we would not be where we are today without you. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family and look forward to keeping you posted on our progress as we build camp.

Doug Armstrong (Founder, CEO):
I am thankful for the volunteers, donors, board members, staff, camper families and everyone who shares the belief that children with serious health challenges deserve a chance to go to camp!

Cathy Blankenship (Director of Development)
I am thankful for the positive energy and enthusiasm of my peers, who make it a pleasure to come to work every day. I feel privileged to work for an organization that makes such a positive impact in the lives of our campers. I am grateful to our donors, volunteers and friends that are making it possible to build camp!

Jessica Doletzky (OutReach Coordinator):
I am thankful for the incredible campers and families that I get to work with through the OutReach Program. Their courage, strength and resiliency inspire me every day!

Deb Kern (Annual Giving Coordinator):
I am thankful to be a part of a dedicated and passionate staff. I am inspired and thankful for our volunteers and supporters.

Deb Richards (Executive Assistant): I am thankful for the total strangers that call North Star Reach to say they just heard about us and want to know how they can become involved. I am thankful for the energy and creative minds of the staff at North Star Reach. Their love for the kids is contagious.

Patrick Smith (Camp Director):
I am thankful for campfires and cabin chats.
I am thankful for amazing volunteers.
I am thankful for our camp design and construction team.
I am thankful for a great CEO.

Laura Tomassi (Event Specialist):
I am thankful for our amazing event committee who works tirelessly year-round to put on a unique event for friends of North Star Reach in order to raise funds for our campers.

Dawn Whitford (Office Manager):
I am thankful for our campers, who share their stories of personal growth and victory, keeping the mission alive and well for all of us who are working towards making camp a reality.

Marji Wisniewski (Marketing and Communications Director):
I am thankful to be able to share the stories of our North Star Reach campers with others. I am thankful for our media partners who have helped spread the word about camp this year far and wide. I am grateful for the amazing marketing committee that supports our efforts by bringing their expertise and passion for marketing and camp together.

Thank you again for all you have done to help build camp, raise awareness and inspire our campers. We are so happy to have each of you in our North Star Reach family.

Groundbreaking Magic


“Camp is magical” was the resounding message that guests took with them from the North Star Reach ceremonial groundbreaking. On July 30, 2014, founders, sponsors, volunteers, campers and friends all gathered to celebrate the start of construction and to commemorate all of the success the camp has seen in its fundraising campaign. The event was hosted at the Polo Fields Golf and Country Club in Ann Arbor on a beautiful summer day with plenty of sunshine. Decorated in a creative camp way, guests were reminded of the beauty and simplicity that camp offers.

As the event started, warm welcomes were given by Sean Byrne, the Board of Directors gboverview.inddChairperson and Doug Armstrong, CEO of North Star Reach. Doug shared the story of camp and reminded the audience that they were all there because of a dream – a dream to enable children with serious health challenges to experience all of the joys of a camp. “Everyone here has had a role in making this dream come true – together we have gotten to this point,” said Doug. The speeches of the day were filled with thanks to each and every person who has given a helping hand – from board members to volunteers to family members, all who have assisted North Star Reach in raising $21 million so far.

One of the most memorable speeches came from Jenna, a camper who has been able to attend Victory Junction, through the Camp on the Move program, four years in a row. “Those four weeks at camp changed my life. – Before camp I was always embarrassed of my scar. It was at my first camp that I realized I’m not the only one with a scar,” recalled Jenna. She also shared, “I made life-long friends at camp. They have created a support system that I can lean on.” Since Jenna will be too old to attend North Star Reach as a camper when it opens, she hopes to serve as a counselor. “North Star Reach will provide the opportunity for kids in Michigan to make friends who are similar to them. I’m excited for them to get to experience the magic of camp.”

The big moment of the day was when veteran and future campers revealed the renderings for the buildings at camp. This was the first time the public has been able to see what the buildings will look like when camp opens in fall 2015. The buildings have been designed to honor traditional camping and the natural beauty of the camp’s pristine surroundings. Most importantly, North Star Reach is a barrier free camp and is being constructed to empower the children to just have fun without having to worry about restrictions.

The event was concluded by a unique celebratory ceremony. Instead of the traditional “shovel in dirt” groundbreaking ceremony, the event was finished by lighting a campfire and throwing “wish chips” for the campers into the fire.

All in all, nearly 250 supporters attended the event and over 1,000 more have viewed the broadcast online. The day left people feeling inspired and with high anticipation for the opening of camp. Construction has officially started and we are well on our way to making those camp wishes come true… After all, Camp IS Magical.

-Amanda Washburn
Owner, Rough Draft Solutions and North Star Reach Marketing Volunteer

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