Winding through the gravel drive on a cool spring morning, visitors can almost hear the sounds of summers past: The laughter of children playing capture the flag, the zing of basketballs missing their swoosh and the snap of arrows impaling bales of hay holding brightly colored targets.
This is the symphony of summer at Fitch Camp.
In a place where time has nearly stood still, among picturesque hills and trees, a sandy beach and a quiet lake, you’ll find a humble man who is making a difference in the lives of children and teens all year long.
Chris Cox spends his summers away from his full-time job — teaching — doing the exact same thing here, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nestled between the homes along Cable Lake in Dowagiac, Michigan, the 75-year-old camp plays host to campers a little more than six weeks every summer. And Chris is there for every day of it.
The veteran teacher has a few weeks’ break from his fifth-grade teaching job before it is time to meet the staff and get things going for this year’s group of campers. Admittedly one of his favorite things, Chris enjoys mentoring the young adults as they embark on their first real “job” away from home.
Many of the counselors start in the kitchen at the age of 14 and work their way up to being a counselor. Most of them stay until they graduate from Dowagiac Union High School, and some last through four years of college.
“A lot of those kids are interested in the same things I’m interested in,” Chris says. “Sports or education, and they go on to become coaches and teachers. I can’t tell you how many — 50 or 75 or more counselors — have come through and they’re all off to adulthood now, making a difference in their communities.”
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