We are proud to host international Campers every year at Foley…
And it is especially exciting when they are referred to us by current Foley campers and alums. On this next installment if Refer a Camper Month I talked to Kristin Dennewill, a mother of 2 past campers. She also helped refer Aina and Amanda Pocalles Puig from Spain! I asked her how she talked about camp to non-American parents and what she loved about her daughter attending camp with her 2 international friends.
What is your connection to Foley?
I actually went to Camp Foley when I was in 6th grade. My school visited the camp for a week. We did some environmental education things and I remember loving the camp. (Kristin is referencing our Outdoor Education Program, where school groups from around the state of Minnesota join us for a week or 3 days at a time to learn about their impact on the environment, sustainable energy, and nature appreciation. It is the 2nd longest running Environmental Education Program in the state!)
And then it was so funny, I am the oldest of 6, so years later my younger sister’s time to come Foley in 6th grade I was about 19, and my friend and I volunteered to be her chaperones! So we got to go back and help out with her class for 3 days, I loved it. I think I always kept Foley in the back of mind after that. Also I’m part of the Mankato Country Club, and there are tons of Foley people you run into there. So after I had my kids I was reminded about Camp Foley all the time. Everyone always loved it and had great things to say.
Why do you send your own child to camp?
Honestly one of my biggest motivators was the break from technology. My son Harry went first in 2018 and loved it. My daughter Maya has tried lots of different camps, mostly Y camps. When Harry came back after his summer at Foley, I was really impressed with the structure and routines. And some other camps did things I didn’t love, like access to lots of candy at the camp store, or not super structured free time for the majority of the day. I really liked that Foley challenges kids to try new things and gain that independence.
I do have to be honest that my kids, especially my daughter were not thrilled when I first told them they were going to camp. But sometimes as the parent you just know this will be so good for them and get them to try it. I wish we could figure out a way to crack the nut of WANT to come. Because once my son and daughter came back from their first summers they absolutely loved it.
How did you refer camp to Aina and Amanda? What did that look like with their parents?
I’ve known their mom Pilar for many years, we met when I lived in Spain. I lived there for several years with my husband and kids. That’s how Maya got close with the girls. Their mother was always looking for American summer camps to improve Aina and Amanda’s English skills. We started with Camp Trout Lake for Maya and the oldest sister Aina. They were both 9 or 10. Eventually like I said, Harry went to Foley, and the girls all went to Camp Warren, a YMCA camp in Eveleth MN. And I just felt like my son Harry got so much more out his summer than the girls did. So I talked to their mom Pilar and said I would be sending Maya to Foley and that I think the girls would really enjoy the Foley experience. I will be honest it was a significantly larger investment for them then Trout Lake or Camp Warren. But I told them essentially you get what you pay for and this experience would be worth it.
What tips would you give another family or parents referring Camp Foley to someone?
I think a big draw for international parents is the “American Summer Camp experience”. It’s a unique thing and hard to find. I told my friend Pilar about the activities and skills they will learn and how they will be exposed to so many new things. They would have Maya there as a friend but would make lots of connections with other campers from all over the USA and other countries.
It worked out very well because Aina and Amanda could fly into Minneapolis and stay with our family for a day or two and then we could all travel to camp together. If I were an American family trying to refer an international family, I would think through the logistics of what getting the kids to and from the states, it might be helpful to offer to host their campers.
A note From Pilar Pollaces Puig
I reached out to Aina and Amanda’s mother to ask how their 1st summer went…
From Pilar: Amanda didn’t want any present for Christmas but to be able to go back to Camp Foley. Amanda loves it and so does Aina, but she turned 17 years old!
Because Kristin helped Maya refer the girls and they all 3 joined Club Paradise last summer, they earned a 10% camp credit. Kristin received hers as a check, because Maya aged out last year and cannot return as a camper. Pilar chose to use both the credit earned by Aina and Amanda towards Amanda’s tuition and managed to save over $1000! Pilar mentioned this was huge reason Amanda would be able to return this summer and it extremely grateful for the opportunity.