Unexpected Gifts: How offering gave in return


Nothing makes my heart happier than having a full house, sharing good food and fun. When I set out to offer a few select summer camps at our home, I wanted to create something fun my daughter and I could share in together, and share with some of our friends. I never could have imagined what it would give back to us…

They say it takes a village. Sometimes, we have to create what we need (especially if there’s no immediate family nearby). I’m a firm believer in shaping our own paths by the energy we put out there. And by doing what we’re passionate about with our whole hearts, organic growth will come back from the good we’re sharing.

I just had no idea what that would look like until I saw it at our first summer camp. I feared it would be chaos with drop offs of 11 kids, possible crying from separation anxiety…but it was none of that. Because my daughter and I created and shared our love and passion for making beautiful fun, our friends gave back the most peaceful positive energy while they played happily. The backyard was strangely quiet for having 12 kiddos age 3-5 running around playing with our pretend farmers market, camping set ups complete with s’mores and an inflatable fire, blowing bubbles, sidewalk chalk drawing, sandbox play, swinging and making tea parties with woodland animals and friends. And it gave me so much joy to see that, so much that I am still smiling the next morning. My back is tired, but I am still smiling.

Because I do believe in hard work. And it does take hard work to pull off what we did yesterday (I couldn’t have done it without my mama helpers). But when it’s your passion, it’s a fire in your heart you do with gumption and ease because you have to…because no one else will…


I created these camps because there was an opportunity I wanted my daughter to have and it was missing in our community. I wanted her to explore the world beyond little ol’ Lancaster. I wanted her to learn languages, so I learned them and taught them to her from the time she could sit up. (Okay I already knew Spanish, but I had to teach myself French.) And she now counts to 10 in both languages and knows most of her colors at age 3 (proud mama moment for sure). But I am not bragging. And not shaming other moms who may not have the passion for this. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I want to share our love for learning, language, reading, crafting and making beautiful fun. I’ll not share all my weaknesses now, that’s a whole other topic!

But one weakness that all artists/creative types seem to share is a feeling of anxiety or being unsure that what you’re putting out there is actually good. In my career as a writer, I can tell you we rarely hear back unless we get a fact wrong. With event planning, and most things in the business world, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets oiled – and sucks the life out of the soul.

The exact opposite of that was having a home full of other mamas who saw value in what I wanted to create and appreciation for my vision as it came to life through their children – one of the most amazing, fulfilling experiences. I have spent a career creating…editorial content and corporate events…for more than  12 years and always found that to be very rewarding, but I never could have imagined what creating something for children would feel like.


As they sat, criss-cross applesauce in front of me on brightly colored blankets, eyes looking up as I read Strega Nona and talked about my own family’s origins in Calabria (and of course they all lit up talking about pasta – carb loving starts young!) my heart was so full and my mind, amazed, at how attentive they were as we talked about global concepts with our felt map of continents.

We had children with families from Brazil, Japan, Vietnam and Italy…and we’ll learn more when they come back Thursday to talk about where their families are from. We painted “trees” with broccoli stamps. We read The Hungry Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear and then worked on our knife skills (plastic of course) cutting strawberries and “eating them all up, yum!” Then we made pasta primavera for a veggie-filled lunch and sent the recipe home to help mom and dad make it again. Two stamps in our Summer Food Passports down, a world of exploring to go!

Just a few spots remain in June, July and August, friends, please contact me soon to reserve your little ones’ spots!


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